Communication Services & Information Technology
University of California
Communication Services & Information Technology

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
415-761-1020 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.

Research activities focus on adapting, piloting, and evaluating youth development program models that integrate culturally relevant practices to engage culturally diverse youth, empower youth through consequential STEM and computer science learning, and support volunteer educators in improving their pedagogical practices to improve program quality. Recent projects have included youth participatory action research, developing curricula to strengthen young people’s computational thinking and positive ethnic-racial identity through computer science education, and promoting high school student college readiness through mentorships with college students and professionals.

Programmatically, Dr. Worker provides academic leadership to 4-H clubs, summer camps, college readiness, teenagers-as-teachers, and youth participatory action research programs facilitated by 600 adult volunteers serving over 3,000 youth. Dr. Worker also chairs the North Bay Science Discovery Day, a free annual festival to spark young people’s curiosity for STEM learning.

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. 

University Service

Professional Affiliations

Other Service and Affiliations


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


  • Scholar Award (for Outstanding Research) – Out-of-School Time Special Interest Group
    Presented by American Educational Research Association,  2022
  • Diversity and Inclusion: Expanding the 4-H Audience Team Award
    Presented by National Association of Extension 4-H Agents,  2021
  • Meritorious Service Award
    Presented by National Association of Extension 4-H Agents,  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

  • Smith, M.; Worker, S.; Meehan, C.; McCambridge, J.; Maille, A.; Malone, C.; Mondl, A.; Stevenson, A. (In Press). Comparisons of professional development approaches for out-of-school time educators. University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • Marshall-Wheeler, N., Miner, G., Worker, S., Kok, C. M., Espinosa, D., & Miller, J. (In Press). The UC 4-H Volunteer Educators’ Guide: For volunteers facilitating 4-H educational experiences. University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources. 

  • Worker, S.; Kok, C. M.; Vega, L.; Moncloa, F.; Fábregas Janeiro, M.; Gunn, M. (In Press). Welcoming culturally diverse youth into 4-H: A handbook for 4-H professionals. University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources

  • Worker, S., McCambridge, J., Stevenson, A., Fields, J., Maille, A., Meehan, C. L., Mondl, A., Malone, C., & Smith, M. H. (2022). Sustainable Polymers: New 4-H STEM Curricula. The Journal of Extension, 60(1), Article 5.

  • Lewis, K. M., Kok, C. M., Worker, S., & Miner, G. (2021). Exploring the relationship between program experience and youth developmental outcomes. Journal of Human Sciences and Extension. 9:3, 68-106. 

  • Worker, S. M.; Fábregas Janeiro, M. G., et al. (2021). Latino volunteerism in the 4-H Youth Development Program. Journal of Human Sciences and Extension. 9:3, 206-219.
  • Worker, Steven (2021). Online learning fact sheet for the 4-H youth development program: Integrating experiential education into the digital realm. 4-H Fact Sheet Series. 8699.
  • Worker, Steven (2021). Online learning fact sheet for the 4-H youth development program: Promoting positive youth development. 4-H Fact Sheet Series. 8698.
  • Worker, Steven (2021). Online learning fact sheet for the 4-H youth development program: Supporting productive educator practices for out-of-school time. 4-H Fact Sheet Series. 8697.
  • 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., et al. (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

  • 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 (2021). 4-H programs help youth improve their public speaking confidence. Sonoma-Marin Farm News.
  • 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, et al. (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, et al. (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., et al. (2014). "Professional Development in 4-H: A Case for Reform." California Classroom Science 27(2)
  • Worker, Steven; Smith, Martin, et al. (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, et al. (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.
  • Worker, S.; Smith, M., et al. (2011). "4-H programs focus on science." California Classroom Science 22(7)
  • Mahacek, R.; Worker, S., et al. (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., et al. (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.

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