Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
University of California
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Steven M. Worker PhD

Photo of Steven M. Worker PhD
4-H Youth Development Advisor
Marin County
1682 Novato Boulevard, Suite 150B
Novato, CA 94947-7021
smworker@ucanr.edu Create VCard

Also in:
Sonoma County
Napa County



4-H Youth Development Advisor for Marin, Sonoma, and Napa counties
Dr. Worker conducts extension, education, and applied research around youth development, informal STEM and computer science education, and volunteer development. His emphases are adapting, piloting, evaluating 4-H program models to be culturally relevant and engage marginalized youth; empower youth through consequential STEM and computer science learning; and support volunteers in improving their practices to improve program quality.

Dr. Worker provides academic leadership to 4-H Youth Development clubs, camps, and programs facilitated by 600 adult volunteers serving over 3,000 youth in Sonoma, Marin, and Napa counties.

Previously: 4-H Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Coordinator (2009-2016): Worker managed professional and volunteer development for science educators, coordinated program and curriculum development and evaluation, and resource development. His work drew upon inquiry and experientially-based pedagogies grounded in a positive youth development approach. Worker co-authored two nationally peer-reviewed and published curricula, There’s No New Water! and Junk Drawer Robotics, along with a California curricula, iThrive: Leadership, Science & Me! 

State 4-H Program Representative (2001-2009): Worker provided leadership to the 4-H State Leadership Conference, 4-H State Ambassador program, 4-H Record Book, 4-H Technology Leadership Team, and other statewide 4-H adolescent leadership development and recognition programs. 

4-H Alumni
Worker is a 4-H alumni from Santa Barbara County (1991-1999). He served as a 4-H All Star (1996-1998; 4-H County Ambassador), earned his Emerald Star (1995), was a 4-H camp counselor, attended the 1998 National 4-H Conference, and served as a State 4-H Diamond Star (1998-1999; renamed now as "4-H State Ambassador"). In 1998, Worker founded the 4-H Technology Leadership Team, a group of youth and adults working to integrate technology into 4-H programming. 

Professional Affiliations

Leadership Philosophy

  • “None of us is as smart as all of us.” - Kenneth H. Blanchard
  • "A community is like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm." - Henrik Ibsen


Ph.D. Education (Learning Sciences), University of California, Davis. 2016
M.S. Community Development, University of California, Davis. 2007
B.S. Computer Science, California Polytechnic State University. 2001
A.A. Liberal Arts, Allan Hancock College. 1998


  • Meritorious Service Award
    Presented by National Association of Extension 4-H Agents,  https://nae4ha.com/page/ServiceAwards,  2018
  • Distinguished Service Award
    Presented by National Association of Extension 4-H Agents,  2014
  • Achievement in Service Award
    Presented by National Association of Extension 4-H Agents,  2006
  • Distinguished Alumni Award
    Presented by Allan Hancock College,  2000


Educational research; design and research of out-of-school (informal) learning environments; positive youth development; science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education

Areas of Expertise (click to see all ANR academics with this expertise)


Peer Reviewed

  • Kok, C. M., Espinoza, D. M., Worker, S. M., Go, C., & Miller, J. C. (2020). Identification of priority skill areas for volunteer professional development. Journal of Youth Development. 15(4), 51-67. doi:10.5195/jyd.2020.876  

  • Worker, S. M., Espinoza, D. M., Kok, C. M., Go, C., Miller, J. C. (2020). Volunteer outcomes and impact: The contributions and consequences of volunteering in 4-H. Journal of Youth Development, 15(4), 6-31. doi:10.5195/jyd.2020.847

  • Worker, S. M., Janeiro, M. F., Lewis, K. (2020). Youth in 4-H Latino Initiative programs achieve similar outcomes to youth in 4-H community clubs. California Agriculture, 74(1), 148-150. doi:10.3733/ca.2019a0027 

  • Horrillo, S. J., Bird, M., Worker, S. (Eds.) (2019). Camp activities with a science twist: Enhancing your camp program with fun STEM experiences. Monterey, CA: Healthy Learning (American Camp Association). 

  • Worker, S. M. (2019). Development of an artifact-based evaluation framework for assessing 4-H learner outcomes. Journal of Extension, 57(1). Article 1RIB2

  • Schmitt-McQuitty, L., Worker, S. M., & Smith, M. H. (2019). Lesson study model of 4-H professional development: Data-Driven improvements to educator practice. Journal of Youth Development, 14(1), 131-154. 

  • Worker, S. M., Iaccopucci, A. M., Bird, M., & Horowitz, M. (2019). Promoting positive youth development through teens-as-teachers programs. Journal of Adolescent Research, 34(1), 30-54..

  • Janeiro, Maria G.Fabregas; Worker, Steven M.; Soule, Katherine E.; Mariscal, Diego (2019). Toolkits for engaging Latino youth in 4-H programs. ANR Publication 8640.
  • Worker, S.M., Fabregas Janeiro, M. G., Diaz Carrasco, C. P., & Soule, K. E. (2019). University of California 4-H Latino Initiative: Experiences of bicultural and bilingual staff. Journal of Youth Development, 14(3), 31-44. 

  • Smith, M., Worker, S., Meehan, C., Schmitt-McQuitty, L., Ambrose, A., Brian, K., & Schoenfelder, E. (2017). Defining and developing curricula in the context of Cooperative Extension. Journal of Extension, 55(2).

  • Neelon, M., Brian, K., Iaccopucci, A. M., Lewis, K. M., & Worker, S. M. (2017, February). Development of a health survey instrument for 5- to 8-year-old youth. Journal of Extension, 55(1). Article 1TOT9..

  • Worker, S. M. (2017). Volunteer educators bring their own ideas about effective teaching to a 4-H curriculum. California Agriculture, 71(4), 208-213. Available from http://calag.ucanr.edu/Archive/?article=ca.2017a0021

  • Worker, S. M., Schmitt-McQuitty, L., Ambrose, A., Brian, K., Schoenfelder, E., & Smith, M. H. (2017). Multiple-methods needs assessment of California 4-H science education programming. Journal of Extension, 55(2). 

  • Smith, M. H., Worker, S. M., Schmitt-McQuitty, L., Meehan, C. L., Lewis, K. M., Schoenfelder, E., Brian, K. (2017, August). Prevalent approaches to educator professional development in state 4-H programs. Journal of Extension, 55(4).

  • Worker, S. M., Ouellette, K. L., & Maille, A. (2017, May). Redefining the concept of learning in Cooperative Extension. Journal of Extension, 55(3). Article 3FEA3.

  • Worker, S. M. (2016). Examining tensions among youth, adults, and curriculum as co-designers in 4-H STEM learning through design programs. In C. K. Looi, J. L., Polman, U. Cress, P. Reimann (Eds.), Transforming Learning, Empowering Learners: The International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS) 2016, Volume 1 (pp. 322-329). Singapore: International Society of the Learning Sciences.

  • Lewis, K.M., & Worker, S.M. (2016). Youth and adult perceptions of a new technology in California 4-H: The online record book. Journal of Youth Development, 11(2).

  • Lewis, K., & Worker, S. (2015). Examination of attitude and interest measures for 4-H science evaluation. Journal of Extension, 53(3).

  • Worker, S.M., Hill, R.D., Miller, J.C., Go, C.G., & Boyes, R.J. (2015). Exploring the effectiveness of a retreat method for Extension staff. Journal of Extension, 53(6).

  • Smith, M.H., Worker, S.M., Ambrose, A.P., & Schmitt-McQuitty, L. (2015). Including civic engagement as a competent of scientific literacy. Science Education and Civic Engagement: An International Journal, 7(2), 23-27.

  • Lewis, K., Horrillo, S., Widaman, K., Worker, S., & Trzesniewski, K. (2015). National 4-H Common Measures: Initial evaluation from California 4-H. Journal of Extension, 53(2).

  • Smith, M., Worker, S., Ambrose, A., & Schmitt-McQuitty, L. (2015). Scientific literacy: California 4-H defines it from citizens’ perspective. California Agriculture, 69(2), 92-97.

  • Worker, S. (2014). Bers’s theory of Positive Technological Development. Journal of Youth Development, 9(1), 170-174.

  • Worker, S.M. & Smith, M.H. (2014). Curriculum and professional development for OST science education: Lessons learned from California 4-H. Afterschool Matters, 20, 21-27.

  • Worker, S. (2014). Design-based learning in a community-based youth program: Affordances for youth learning and development. In J.L. Poman, E.A. Kyza, D.K. O’Neill, I. Tabak, W.R. Penuel, A.S. Jurow, K. O’Connor, T. Lee, & L. D’Amico (Eds.), Learning and Becoming in Practice: The International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS) 2014 (Vol. 3, p. 1762). Boulder, CO: International Society of the Learning Sciences.

  • Chin Young, J., Manton, L.M., Worker, S.M., & Martin, A.C. (2014). Effective, efficient online training in cooperative extension. Journal of Youth Development, 9(3), 58-65

  • Worker, S.M. (2014). Evaluating adolescent satisfaction of a 4-H leadership development conference. Journal of Extension, 52(2).

  • Worker, S.M. (2013). Embracing scientific and engineering practices in 4-H. Journal of Extension, 51(3).

  • Smith, M., Heck, K., & Worker, S. (2012). 4-H boosts youth scientific literacy with ANR water education curriculum. California Agriculture, 66(4), 158-163.

  • Mahacek, R. & Worker, S. (2011). Extending science education with engineering and technology: Junk drawer robotics curriculum. In A. Subramaniam, K. Heck, R. Carlos, & S. Junge (Eds.), Advances in youth development: Research and evaluation from the University of California Cooperative Extension 2001-2010 (pp. 46-57). University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Non-Peer Reviewed

  • Worker, Steven M. (2019). How 4-H Contributes to the Development of Thriving Young People. Sonoma-Marin Farm News.
  • Worker, Steven; Smith, Martin (2016). "4-H Promotes Bio-Security and Animal Welfare." Sonoma-Marin Farm News
  • Smith, Martin; Meehan, Cheryl; Brian, Kelly; Schmitt-McQuitty, Lynn; Schoenfelder, Emily; Worker, Steven; Ambrose, Andrea (2016). "Animal Welfare Education in California 4-H." California Classroom Science
  • Worker, Steven (2016). Volunteer educators’ influence on youth participation and learning in 4-H STEM learning by design programs (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from PQDT Open (ISBN 9781369201710). University of California, Davis.
  • Worker, Steven; Stein, Marissa (2014). "Cooperative Extension Invites Participation in Day of Science and Service." California Classroom Science 26(8)
  • Worker, Steven; Mahacek, Richard; Wheeler, Tara; Frerichs, Saundra (2014). Engineering for Everyone: 4-H's Junk Drawer Robotics Curriculum. The Go-To Guide for Engineering Curricula PreK-5: Choosing and Using the Best Instructional Materials for Your Students.C. Schneider.
  • Smith, M.; Schmitt-McQuitty, L.; Ambrose, A.; Worker, S. (2014). "Professional Development in 4-H: A Case for Reform." California Classroom Science 27(2)
  • Worker, Steven; Smith, Martin; Ambrose, Andrea; Schmitt-McQuitty, Lynn (2014). "The California 4-H Science, Engineering, and Technology (SET) Initiative: Using and Informing Best Practices for Science Education in Non-formal Settings." California Classroom Science 26(5)
  • Worker, S.; Mahacek, R. (2013) 4-H Out-of-School-Time STEM Education. Children's Technology and Engineering 18, 16-20
  • Worker, Steven; Miner, Gemma; Horrillo, Shannon (2013). iChampion 3 and iThrive 3 in science, engineering and technology curiculum. University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, 4-H Youth Development Program.
  • Worker, S. (2012). History of science education in the 4-H Youth Development Program. Monograph. University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. http://www.ca4h.org/files/135384.pdf
  • Worker, S.; Smith, M.; Schmitt-McQuitty, L.; Mahacek, R. (2011). "4-H programs focus on science." California Classroom Science 22(7)
  • Mahacek, R.; Worker, S.; Mahacek, A.; al., et (2011). 4-H Robotics: Engineering for today and tomorrow – Track 2: Junk drawer robotics. Chevy Chase, MD, National 4-H Council.
  • Smith, M.; Worker, S.; al., et (2010). There's No New Water! Curriculum. Chevy Chase, MD, National 4-H Council.
  • Worker, S. (2007). Factors influencing risk perception: A housing development case study. Thesis, M.S. University of California.

California Agriculture Article Contributions

ANR Workgroup Associations

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