Sanchez Juarez, Diana (2016-05). Let's Hear from Them: Youth Practitioners' Experiences Working With Low-Income Youth. Master's Thesis.
This study stems from an Urban Food Desert Pilot Project evaluation report funded by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. The evaluation report revealed key questions to examine as the 4-H Youth Development program develops new efforts to provide services to low-income youth. The purpose of this study was to identify solutions to effectively address the issues that arose from the evaluation report by interviewing nine youth practitioners in the state of Texas. The project's evaluation data was juxtaposed with the perspectives from the youth practitioners to create more effective options for addressing the challenges posed by the participants and staff of the Urban Food Desert Pilot Project. The analyzed data reveals that the perspectives of practitioners and stakeholder groups in the project shared similar concerns, e.g., low retention of participants, lack of parental involvement, and miscommunication among partner organizations. The results signify attributes of successful programs, e.g., building relationships, mentoring, and creating an inclusive environment for the youth, all of which were felt to be essential in youth programs. In addition, challenges identified were as follows: low-income students lack college preparation, more training needed to work with at-risk youth, keeping staff and program participants' motivated, low parental involvement, and better communication among collaborating organizations. The study confirmed that youth practitioners are essential for ensuring youth benefit from program activities, thus their experiences are valuable for enhancing such programs.