The Routt County Extension Office has sent out a survey to gauge for the first time quantitative benefits of youth programs, specifically 4-H.
The survey should give the extension office a look at how much residents value youth programs and whether such programs encourage participants to be community leaders and servants.
"Our advisory council is always talking about how we can capture some of the impacts that we make in 4-H and tell that story better," said Debbie Alpe, an extension agent in 4-H and family consumer science.
These survey results should provide a more objective measure of the value of these youth programs, she said.
The survey asks about 10 percent of registered voters to detail their perceptions of their community involvement and what sort of leadership roles they have taken on, and then to include whether they have been involved in 4-H or other youth programs.
After the survey is complete, Alpe said the office plans to do more extensive interviews with participants and leaders of some youth programs to "dig a little deeper."
Such interviews would add qualitative information to the quantitative results of the surveys.
The county has been planning to do such a survey for a while, Alpe said.
"I think (this survey) is indeed a first step, and always in good research you raise some questions that you want to explore further," she said.
The survey, which was mailed to 1,074 randomly selected Routt County registered voters, was based on an Oklahoma State University survey. The effort was organized by the extension office's intern, Daleena Babcock, who will return this winter to help analyze the survey results. Results should be available next year.
This survey is being conducted at the same time as a survey about the value of open ranchland in the area, which aims to update a survey from 10 years ago. The first survey has played a key role in decisions to preserve such lands, extension officials have said.
Alpe said that about 26 percent of the ranchland surveys have been returned, and she is urging residents who did not complete the survey to send it back in so the county will get representative answers.