Nonprofit Leadership students evaluate Wabash Valley Cub Scout programs

By: ISU Communications and Marketing Staff, ISU Communications and Marketing Staff
February 26, 2013

Indiana State University students have evaluated the Wabash Valley's ScoutReach program and found it is making significant progress in achieving key developmental program goals for Cub Scout-aged youth.

Students in the university's Nonprofit Leadership Alliance program worked with nine ScoutReach Cub Scout packs in the Terre Haute area to evaluate the effectiveness of the scouting program. By using scientific research methods, the evaluation team determined that the ScoutReach program is positively impacting Scouts' lifestyle behaviors.

ScoutReach is a Boy Scouts of America National Council initiative that strives to provide all youth with a quality scouting program regardless of their circumstances, neighborhoods or backgrounds. ScoutReach focuses on five of the eight areas of youth development: physical, cognitive, emotional, character and citizenship.

From Sept. 1 through Dec. 10, the program evaluation team collected data related to the intended Cub Scout developmental program goals. Data revealed an improvement in PDF healthy behaviors in all five targeted areas of youth development by the Cub Scouts, according to the student team's report.

Surveys found statistically significant improvement - ranging from 2 percent to more than 15 percent - in the areas of physical health, cognitive health, and civic health during the 100-day period. The findings confirm that the Wabash Valley ScoutReach program is making progress towards developing local boys into healthy, ethical citizens, said Nathan Schaumleffel, ScoutReach chairman for the Wabash Valley district and campus/executive director of the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance Certificate program.

Scouts were also found to have increased their civic engagement by more than 12 percent during the period.

In addition to surveys, Indiana State students conducted focus groups during which the youngsters indicated they had become more active in such physical activities as riding bikes and scooters, practicing sports at home, walking, jumping on the trampoline and playing outside more. The scouts also reported improving their dietary habits by eating more fruits and vegetables, eating oatmeal for breakfast, eating more chicken and less red meat and eating less per meal.

"Most notably, the Cub Scouts shared that they (would) rather be at Cub Scouts with their leaders and friends instead of going home after school," the students wrote in their report, noting that the youths indicated they feel safer at Cub Scouts.

Tony Doyle, district ScoutReach specialist for the Crossroads of America Council, said he is grateful for the opportunity to evaluate and improve ScoutReach programming.

"The partnership with the ISU-NLA chapter and my district ScoutReach team has been an amazing opportunity to really do an in-depth evaluation of our program's effectiveness," Doyle said. "Budgetary constraints prevent most nonprofits from being able to undertake such a venture, but thanks to these cooperative efforts, we are well along the path of making our program even stronger and more effective for the youth of the Wabash Valley."Schaumleffel, associate professor of kinesiology, recreation and sport at Indiana State, started the collaboration with the Boy Scouts organization two years ago.

"Over the last two academic years, through President Bradley's Presidential Student Employment Funding Program, we have been able to hire seven Nonprofit Leadership Alliance students to plan and implement a formative program impact evaluation process for the Wabash Valley District ScoutReach Program," Schaumleffel said. "With the support of Troy Fears of the United Way of the Wabash Valley, this project was partially funded by Indiana Campus Compact."

ScoutReach and the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance program at Indiana State have partnered in program development for the past five years and in evaluation for the past two years. The partnership has proven beneficial for both entities, Schaumleffel said.

"Not only has this program evaluation validated the success of this program for 6- to 10-year-old boys, but it has provided a community engagement and service-learning experience that is career-shaping for our students," he said.

Janessa Wolf, a senior recreation management and youth leadership major and vice president and community services director of the Nonprofit Leadership Student Association, said the experience she gained as a member of the program evaluation team is invaluable. "I have enjoyed working for ScoutReach on the program evaluation team" she said. "It is interesting to hear what the Scouts enjoy most about Cub Scouts. It is also a good feeling to know that the program is improving results as it continues."

Indiana State students joining Wolf on the evaluation team were Khrita Beliles, team leader, Christina Boehm, Nicole Coomer and Clarissa Jones. Tina Kruger Newsham, assistant professor of applied health sciences, served as statistician for the project.

Download: PDF Wabash Valley District ScoutReach Program Impact Evaluation Results

Contact: Nathan A. Schaumleffel, associate professor of recreation and nonprofit leadership and campus/executive director, Nonprofit Leadership Alliance Certification Program, Indiana State University, 812-237-2189 or nathan.schaumleffel@indstate.edu.

Writer: Chelsea Brinegar, assistant director of public relations, Nonprofit Leadership Alliance, Indiana State University, cbrinegar@sycamores.indstate.edu.