N.C. 4-H Horse Program Digital Survey Results

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Results of the N.C. 4-H Horse Program Digital Resources Evaluation Study

From November 2018 to January 2019, a research study was conducted to examine and evaluate how current digital resources that are shared via the North Carolina Extension Equine Husbandry website and social media are being utilized and if they are meeting the needs of the N.C. 4-H Horse Program stakeholders: 4-H members, parents, Extension agents, and adult volunteers that participate in, lead, and advise 4-H Horse clubs in North Carolina. Lori Stroud served as the researcher for the project, with the main goal of obtaining feedback from stakeholders about how the current resources offered by the program are or are not meeting their needs.

The first part of the study consisted of three, qualitative, focus-group interviews, with 9-11 active stakeholders in each group (n=30). The interviewees provided positive and negative feedback on the website and social media pages. The participants also voiced recommendations for improvement and expansion of existing content, identified potential barriers to usage, and ideas for future content and services not currently provided. Focus-group participants also provided feedback on the layout and design of the website menu, and they overwhelming recommended a more concise list of main topics. Participants also expressed support of the development of a YouTube channel with instructional videos, and an app to communicate with state 4-H horse show participants during the show. The perceptions and suggestions by the focus-group participants were utilized to develop a quantitative, electronic, census survey that was distributed state-wide to all 4-H horse program stakeholders.

Over a twenty-one day period, n=277 Qualtrics surveys were completed (4-H’ers 11-18, n=91; parents, n=99; club leaders, n=69; Extension agents in charge of county 4-H horse clubs, n=18). 86.11% (n=217) of survey respondents had accessed the Extension Equine Husbandry website to obtain information about the 4-H Horse Program; the pages containing the Rules and Regulations Manual, State 4-H Horse Show information, and Horsemanship camp information were visited the most frequently.

Have you accessed the Extension Equine Husbandry website to obtain information about the N.C. 4-H Horse Program within the last 12 months?
Stakeholder Group Yes No Total N
% n % n
4-H Horse Club Member (age 11-18) 85.14% 63 14.86% 11 74
4-H Horse Club Adult Leader 93.94% 62 6.06% 4 66
Parent of a 4-H Horse Club Member 79.79% 75 20.21% 19 94
Extension Agent with 4-H Horse Club Responsibilities 88.24% 15 11.76% 2 17

In regards to social media, Facebook and Instagram topped the survey list of most utilized social media platforms.

Do you follow the N.C. 4-H Horse Program on this social media platform?
Platform Yes No  
% n % n Total N
Facebook 81.40% 210 18.60% 48 258
Instagram 43.95% 98 56.05% 125 223
Twitter 9.62% 20 90.38% 188 208
Pinterest 14.62% 31 85.38% 181 212

Survey respondents answered similarly to the focus-group participants when asked what made them dissatisfied with the ease of use of the website (n=24); open-ended responses referred to a difficult menu structure that made it hard to navigate and search for particular topics or items. Only 4.28% (n=7) of respondents indicated dissatisfaction with the content on the website, with a recommendation to include more information for club leaders and sample curriculum. When asked to rate their satisfaction with the ease of use and content of the social media sites, 42.66% (n=93) and 39.45% (n=85) of respondents said they were extremely satisfied, respectively. Horse judging, hippology, and horsebowl were ranked as the top three topics of interest for videos for a new YouTube channel.

Based on feedback from the survey, the following improvements to digital tools will be made over the next twelve months:

  • Maintain and promote existing social media platforms
  • Employ Constant Contact to send website update alerts
  • Develop an app to house state 4-H horse show information, that will also send messages and deliver alerts during the show
  • Create a North Carolina 4-H Horse Program YouTube Channel with content to initially focus on horse judging
  • Expand teaching resources (open a Moodle project page with contest preparation materials for leaders)
  • Add links to frequently used forms to the website (project record books, portfolios, 4-H enrollment)
  • Research best methods for creating and maintaining a “request for information” page to the website
  • Simplify the existing menu structure of the website to include the following headings: rules, contests, shows, forms, results, calendar, workshops, and a new members’ corner
  • Update existing references to the Rules and Regulations Manual so users are directed to the pages in the manual where the rules for that event are located

In conclusion, as a result of this process evaluation study, Extension Equine Husbandry staff will be able to reflect on the stakeholders’ interview and survey responses to focus time and resources modifying the identified troublesome aspects and creating digital materials that will benefit stakeholders and grow the program.

If you are interested in viewing the full thesis and report for this project, it is available through the NC State University Libraries.