The Perceived Importance of Youth Educator’s Confidence in Delivering Leadership Development Programming

A successful component of programs designed to deliver youth leadership develop programs are youth educators who understand the importance of utilizing research-based information and seeking professional development opportunities. The purpose of this study was to determine youth educator’s perceived confidence in leading youth leadership development programs. Study objectives included describing types of youth leadership development training received by youth educators, describing the number of hours of youth leadership development training received by youth educators, describing the perceived importance of youth leadership development training received by youth educators, describing youth leadership development training delivery mode preferences of youth educators, determining if the addition of hours of training received and the perception of the importance of youth leadership training improvedthe prediction of perceived confidence beyond that provided by differences in selected demographic variables (gender, age, years of service, education level, office location). The target population for this study was southern region 4-H youth development educators. Results of this study indicate that perceived importance of youth leadership development training is predictive of youth educator’s confidence level in teaching youth leadership development. Youth leadership development programs are a cornerstone of many youth serving organizations. The importance of youth leadership development to the core goals of programs is illustrated by its explicit inclusion in program logic models as well as its implicit presence when older youth serve in teaching and mentoring roles for younger youth. The success or failure of a youth leadership development program may be linked to many factors, one of which is the educator who leads the program. Youth educators influence program success in many ways. The focus of this study is to explore educators’ prior experiences as well as their perceived confidence in delivering youth leadership development programming. Given the strong connections between a person’s beliefs and behaviors, it is important to understand youth educators’ beliefs within the context of their prior experiences (Ajzen, Joyce, Sheikh, & Cote, 2011). This study seeks to expand the literature about youth educators’ youth leadership development training beliefs. It has practical implications for developing professional development trainings for youth educators as well as theoretical implications for advancing a deeper understanding of educators’ core beliefs about training specifically related to youth leadership development.