Honors Program


Date of this Version

Spring 3-13-2023

Document Type



Reed, J. (2023). Examining the Role of 4-H Youth Development in Developing Young People’s Spirituality. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


The intended final publication of this research is with the Journal of Youth Development. The following research was performed in association with 4-H.

Copyright Jessie Reed 2023.


Youth Development research concerning physical, mental, emotional, civic, and social processes has produced a dense narrative about the means youth take to develop into well-rounded, resilient adults. The same field has historically overlooked the role of spiritual development in this goal (Benson & Roehlkepartain, 2008). Spiritual development concerns itself with the role of purpose and meaning in the lives of youth and young adults (Benson et al., 2012). While spiritual development is traditionally associated with institutions of organized religions, the rate of participation in the United States has fallen in recent decades (Pew Research Center, 2015). The resulting outcome is a rising concern about where youth are receiving socialization surrounding this idea of purpose and meaning in their lives. 4-H Youth Development has taken the first steps to meet this need in U.S. households by connecting their current programming with concepts of purpose and meaning (Arnold, 2018). The following study examines how youth perceive the contributions of 4-H Youth Development on their spirituality.