Animal Science Department


First Advisor

Dr. Lena Luck

Second Advisor

Dr. Lisa Karr

Third Advisor

Dr. Jill Lingard

Date of this Version

Winter 12-2022


McCarthy, E. (2022). The Nebraska 4-H Equine Advancement Level Program’s Role in Positive Youth Development Using the Five Cs Model: An Exploratory Study. M.S. Thesis. University of Nebraska. Lincoln, NE


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Animal Science, Under the Supervision of Professor Lena Luck. Lincoln, Nebraska: December, 2022

Copyright © 2022 Eunhye McCarthy


Positive youth development (PYD) focuses on developing the strengths of youth through positive activities and behaviors rather than reducing negative tendencies. A well-researched model of PYD is the five C’s model that is popularly used in youth development organizations such as 4-H. The Nebraska 4-H Equine Advancement Level program was intended to serve as a guidebook for instruction and assessment of youth as they learn more about horses and horsemanship skills. Each of the four levels has an emphasis in developing a 4-H member’s responsibility, self-discipline, self-reliance, patience, and pride of accomplishments. The program was started approximately 30 years ago but has not been evaluated using the five C’s PYD model. This study aims to evaluate the impacts and identify relationships between students’ involvement in Nebraska equine advancement level program and the six C’s of PYD. A survey was developed using modified Likert-like scale questions and multiple-choice. Response options to questions were geared towards topics or scenarios specific to the Nebraska 4-H Equine Advancement Level program. Respondents were between the ages of 10 to 18 years old and were enrolled in the Nebraska 4-H Horse project. A total of 55 responses (6 male; 49 female) were collected. Results indicated the PYD constructs highly correlate with each other, specifically competence and contribution and connection with all other constructs (apart from confidence). Overall mean scores of youths indicated positive trends in increased PYD scores as youth progress through advancement levels and development in the six constructs (excluding caring construct with a slight decline in mean scores from advancement level1 to 2). Competence and character revealed significant differences in means between levels 1 and 2 and levels 1 and 3 predicting that youth scores tend to increase through the program. Due to low participation, results are specific to the 47 youth that participated in the study.

Advisor: Lena Luck