When most people think of 4-H, they think of 4-H clubs. Although 4-H clubs are the most commonly known and a meaningful long-term experience, there are six other ways 4-H reaches youth. Each “delivery mode” serves a different purpose but all are potentially useful for serving youth, ages 5-19, and meeting their diverse needs. 4-H staff also use these as categories to report participation in 4-H to government agencies at local, state, and federal levels. Here is how the seven 4-H delivery modes are defined and how participation in them are reported.
Members of an organized group of youth, led by an adult, with a planned program that is carried on throughout all or most of the year. 4-H clubs may meet in any location and typically have elected officers and a set of rules approved by the membership to govern the club. Standard 4-H clubs involve youth, ages 9-19, and focus on in-depth learning of one or more projects. 4-H Cloverbud clubs provide youth, ages 5-8, with an introduction to 4-H in a non-competitive environment. 4-H clubs might meet in the community, on military installations, in schools during school hours, as well as in school age child care settings after school. Refer to the 4-H Honor Club information sheet, or your county 4-H office, to learn details of what an ideal 4-H club is expected to do. See "How to Start a 4-H Club" in the 4-H Leader Training Series for guidance.
Groups of youth meeting for a specific learning experience that involves direct teaching by extension staff or trained volunteers, including teachers. The program is not part of the school curriculum and not restricted to members of 4-H clubs. Multiple-day meetings, such as conferences, are reported as short-term programs. The direct audience contact hours should be at least six for enrollment to be reported. This delivery mode does not usually continue for as long as a 4-H club. Examples might be a three-week babysitting course or a weekend-long state 4-H teen conference if they are open to the public.
Youth taking part in an Extension-planned educational experience of group living in the out-of-doors. Overnight camping includes being away from home at least one night (resident, primitive, or travel camping) and is not restricted to members of organized 4-H clubs. Day camping consists of multiple-day programs, with youth returning home each evening. This experience is not reported if restricted to members of organized 4-H clubs.
Groups of youth receiving a sequence of learning experiences in cooperation with school officials during school hours, to support the school curriculum. It involves direct teaching by Extension staff or trained volunteers, including teachers. An example might be a volunteer visiting a school to present a special program on science to youth during classroom hours and promoting 4-H while doing so.
Planned learning which occurs independent of a formal group setting such as a club, as an individual, paired, or family learning effort. Self-directed, usually with limited adult involvement except for parents (or mentor). Examples include self-study, home study courses, mentoring or shadowing with an “expert,” and whole families learning together.
Educational programs offered to youth outside of school hours, usually in a school or other community center and incorporating 4-H curricula. The primary purpose is to provide care for youth while parents are working or unavailable. (Youth who are members of 4-H clubs in school age child care settings are considered members of “organized 4-H clubs”.)
Youth offered learning experiences through Extension via broadcast or closed circuit television, including satellite transmission, web-based learning, pod-casting or videotape replays of such series.
Written by Keith G. Diem, Ph.D., October 2005.
Reference: Cooperative Extension Service Annual 4-H Youth Enrollment Report