Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 40, Issue 9, pp 1254–1270 | Cite as

Engagement in School and Community Civic Activities Among Rural Adolescents

Empirical Research


Involvement in civic and community activities is a core part of positive youth development. Adolescents involved in voluntary civic activities have greater academic engagement, enhanced well-being, less involvement in problem behaviors, and they are more likely to value connections to their community than those who are not involved. The current research examined involvement in school and community civic activities as well as religious youth groups among 8th and 9th graders (N = 679, 61.7% female, 85.9% White) from small, rural schools in the Midwest U.S. and linked involvement to religiosity, well-being, problem behavior, academic engagement, and perceptions of parents and peers. Half of the adolescents in the sample reported involvement in civic activities or, more commonly, in religious youth groups. Adolescents who participated in religious youth groups reported more extracurriculars, less problem behavior, higher grades and motivation, and more support from parents and friends than adolescents who did not. The most frequently reported school civic activities were student council and Future Farmers of America, and 4-H was the most popular community civic activity. Those who were involved in school- and community-based civic activities reported more religiosity, academic engagement, and positive perceptions of parents and peers than uninvolved youth. The results support and extend research on rural youth by documenting civic activities across contexts and examining how involvement is associated with positive youth development.


Civic engagement Rural adolescents 4-H Future Farmers of America Extracurricular activities 



This research was made possible through grants from the Spencer Foundation (Small Grant #200300040), University of Missouri, and Oak Ridge Associated Universities.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentCollege of the Holy CrossWorcesterUSA

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