Human and Community Development: Positive Youth Development


A significant portion of New Jersey youth are at substantial risk for negative outcomes: poor health, substance abuse, teenage pregnancy, school failure, abuse, neglect, crime, violence. Poverty multiplies risk factors. Youth need to be in environments where they have opportunities to acquire the basic skills they need to become responsible family members, participants in the work force and contributing citizens. Youth need knowledge, skills, and behaviors to lead fulfilling lives.


When environments include sustained opportunities for young people to gain a sense of belonging, independence, mastery and generosity, youth can: master skills to make positive life choices; effectively contribute to decision-making and act responsibly; and positively influence their communities and beyond. Ongoing and caring relationships with adults are essential to positive youth development. Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) Cooperative Extension will meet local needs through Rutgers Cooperative Extension county faculty and staff, while participating in regional and state-wide programs focusing on positive youth development in key subject matter areas, as well as universal issues including Essential Elements (life skill development), Experiential Education, Youth /Adult Partnerships, and Volunteer Development and Leadership. Extension specialists and NJAES researchers will provide leadership and support to county faculty and staff in related programming.

Expected Outcomes

Short Term
Individuals will gain awareness, knowledge, skills related to:

  • Youth will increase their awareness, knowledge, attitudes, and skills related to essential elements, workforce development, life skill development, and relevant subject matter.
  • Volunteers will increase their knowledge and awareness of practices fostering positive youth development, including youth/adult partnerships.
  • Youth development professionals and stakeholders will increase their awareness and knowledge of problems and solutions supporting positive youth development, including policies that need to be addressed and community resources and support.

Medium Term
Educated youth and adult clientele, both professional and residential, will utilize their newly gained knowledge and skills to implement and make changes such as:

  • Youth will apply knowledge, attitudes, skills, and behaviors needed to become competent, caring and contributing citizens by: taking on leadership roles in their youth organizations and schools and working in partnership with adults in a variety of settings.
  • Youth and adults will demonstrate effective partnerships through increased youth participation on advisory committees and other governing bodies.
  • Volunteers and youth development professionals will apply practices fostering positive youth development.

Long Term

  • Youth will demonstrate mastery and competencies needed to become engaged citizens by assuming leadership positions in communities; developing and implementing action plans to address community needs; and serving as productive members of the workforce.
  • 4-H youth are active and engaged partners in decision making regarding Rutgers Cooperative Extension programming, including but not limited to 4-H youth development programming.
  • 4-H alumni and volunteers will be engaged citizens by assuming leadership positions in communities.
  • Youth development professionals and stakeholders will influence decision makers in policy development related to youth development needs and issues.

  1. Rutgers
  2. Executive Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources
  3. School of Environmental and Biological Sciences