- Bring together a group of young people with similar interests and two adult leaders to guide the club.
- Choose a project of interest to your club. “Do less, better.” You do not need to do 100 projects, do a few projects well.
- Enroll a club at the Cornell Cooperative Extension office by completing enrollment and background check paperwork.
- Meet and learn together to complete projects. Explore other 4-H events, activities, and trips. 4-H takes you as far as you want to go.
What is a 4-H Club?
A 4-H Club consists of five or more youth, who are guided by two or more adult volunteers. Youth must be age 5 by January 1 of the current 4-H year and not turn 19 before January 1 of the current 4-H year. The 4-H Club’s goal is long term youth development, which encourages its participants to learn life skills that will help them grow into competent, caring, contributing members of our society.
A 4-H club is an informal, educational youth opportunity, which serves as a “hands-on” laboratory for helping youth grow. Adults and 4-H members work together to plan the club calendar. 4-H clubs provide opportunity for leadership.
The 4-H year runs from October 1st to September 30th and a club meeting is recommended at least monthly. Club meeting times and locations are varied.
Types of 4-H Clubs
Traditional 4-H Clubs – Groups of five or more youth that are led by at least two adults volunteers (often parents/guardians). Clubs meet in schools, churches, community centers, or homes to complete a variety of 4-H projects throughout the 4-H year. Some clubs are countywide and some include members from mostly one community.
4-H School Clubs/After-School 4-H Clubs – When 4-H curricula are utilized within the classroom during regular school hours or in an after-school program; the group of children who participate on a regular basis are considered to be a 4-H Club. The classroom teacher and/or other resource people who teach the subject matter serve as club leaders.
The Club Charter identifies a group as an organized 4-H club that is authorized to use the 4-H name and emblem for educational purposes. The Charter stays with the club as long as it is in existence. All chartered clubs are expected to operate within the framework of the 4-H program. The charter does not have to be renewed when leaders change or minor revisions are made in the club structure. A charter application should be submitted soon after the club has met the eligibility requirements. All 4-H clubs must be chartered.
What a club meeting looks like
The way club meetings are structured depends largely on the size of the group and the age of the members. In general 4-H meetings are divided into three segments.
- Business Meeting – through which members learn how to conduct a meeting and practice democratic decision-making.
- Educational Program – usually project work, but may involve special presentations or activities conducted by resource people, parents, or older members.
- Refreshments and Recreation
New Club Organizational Meeting
The very first meeting of your club will set the framework for all your future activities. Here are some things to decide at the first meeting.
- Where to meet.
- When and how often you will meet.
- How parents will be involved (who will help in what ways).
- What the first 4-H project/activity will be an potential future projects/activities.
- Which countywide 4-H activities the club will participate in.
- Estimation of the money needed to cover costs of projects/activities and how money will be raised (club dues, individual member purchases and/or club fundraising).
The First Few Meetings
It is very important to get off to a good start. There is a lot to be accomplished during the first two meetings of a new club. Everyone should leave these meetings feeling that they have had a good time, that they understood and contributed to what went on and that they know what will happen next.
- Select a Club Name – Your club’s name should be unique within your county, should include “4-H” and should be able to stand the test of time, something acceptable as member’s grow older.
- Learn what the four H’s are and what the clover symbolizes.
- Learn the 4-H Pledge and Motto.
- Learn the responsibilities of club officers and conduct elections.
- Start work on a project.
- Club officers conduct the club’s first business meeting. Teach the basic rules of order as the meeting progresses.
- Be sure to take time to work on an activity/project and have some sort of refreshments and a recreational activity…keep it fun!
Proceed with project work, meetings, and activities according to the club’s plan.
Involve Junior Leaders
Junior Leaders are 4-H teens who partner with adults to provide leadership for 4-H clubs and countywide 4-H activities. Depending on the age and experience a junior leader can serve as a general assistant, teach a project, mentor individual members, coordinate activities or assume almost any other 4-H leadership role under the supervision of an adult.
Involving junior leaders in your club program not only “lightens the load” for you, it also adds a spark of energy and enthusiasm, provides role models for your members, and gives teens a valuable opportunity to practice their leadership skills.
Everyone benefits when parents are involved in the 4-H club program.
- 4-H members need their own parent’s support and encouragement to attend meetings, complete projects, and fulfill responsibilities to the club.
- Parents have an opportunity to spend time with their children, and enjoy activities together. In many ways 4-H is a “partner in parenting.”
- 4-H leaders have a lot to juggle. Being able to delegate some of those responsibilities, even the smallest ones, can be a big help.
- The community benefits when families support community-minded organizations like 4-H. Involved families are more knowledgeable about community issues and therefore more likely to support community efforts as well.
- Maintain good communications. When you need help, ask an individual, basing your request on that person’s interests, skills, and abilities. Be honest and specific about the time time commitment and time frame. Ask well in advance of when the job needs to be done.
- Express your appreciation appropriately. Regardless of how much or how little a parent has done he/she deserves a “thank you.”
So Now What?
Contact Emily Roach, 4-H Resource Educator: 607-865-6531 (extension 107); firstname.lastname@example.org – to set a date to meet, start filling out required background check paperwork and to learn more about starting your 4-H club.
Please have your club make a banner so that you can display it in the Youth Building during the Delaware County Fair and/or use it in local parades. We will provide your club with the background felt pre-cut to the correct size and shape. You can select the color felt for your club design.
Banners, once completed, will be kept at the Extension office, but you are welcome to borrow them at any time.
If you’d like your banner displayed at the Delaware County Fair, we would appreciate having them in the Extension office by July 31.
Benefits of Being in a 4-H Club
A statewide study was conducted during the fall of 1998 of all 4-H clubs in New York State. In addition, several focus groups were held around the state. The following is a sample of what was learned.
- Like being involved in 4-H over a period of several years (2 to 5)
- Belong to general type clubs, (not limiting your experiences)
- Like exploring a broad range of interesting topics
- Like 4-H a lot (as opposed to finding it to be just o.k.)
- Were somewhat interested in doing things for other people
- Were very interested in the values learned in 4-H that help guide their lives
- Have been able to practice what they learned in their daily lives
- Were interested in having a career related to what they learned in 4-H
When asked what was most important in their club experience, their highest rated responses were:
- Having fun
- Having interesting things to do under good adult leadership
- Making new friends
- Being active
Finally, the majority of respondents in each category said that 4-H helped them to learn the following skills:
- Setting goals
- Keeping records
- Resolving conflicts
- Making decisions
- Planning and organizing
- Accepting people who are different
- Nutrition and food safety
- Feeling confident about themselves
- Solving problems
- Communicating ideas
- Working as a team
- Making healthy choices
For More information, contact Emily Roach
4-H Resource Educator