Of the almost six million youth reported as 4-H members in 2014, only 610,161 were listed as students in grades 9–12, compared to 1,941,406 in grades 4–8. This great disparity has been a long-held concern of 4-H professionals. Identifying both barriers to and contributing factors for continued 4-H membership is critical in understanding membership trends. This study employed the theoretical framework of Ajzen’s Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) to uncover such barriers and contributing factors. Qualitative analysis showed that a desire to terminate 4-H membership during the middle school grades was common, yet perceived behavioral control among 4-H members had the largest impact on whether or not a 4-H member continued involvement. These findings suggest that parents have a large impact on whether a youth continues 4-H membership. Thus, parental education programs related to the importance of 4-H dosage and duration as it relates to positive youth development are key to retaining 4-H members. The researchers conclude with recommendations for putting the findings of this study into action to increase 4-H member retention.



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