4-H Age Categories

4-H Age and Participation Divisions

4-H programs are offered on an age-appropriate basis to youth, ages 5-19. This is the general age requirement for 4-H participation. On occasion, multi-state and national 4-H programs and events may use different age criteria and will be adhered to as necessary to qualify for participation.

Age classifications for 4-H club members are:

  • Cloverbud Member: ages 5-8
  • Junior Member: ages 9-13
  • Senior Member: ages 14-19

Ages are as of January 1 of the current 4-H year, which spans from September through August.  Here are some examples for clarification:

  • If a child is age 5 on January 1, she can join 4-H for the entire 4-H year as a Cloverbud member.
  • If a child turns age 5 on January 2 or later, she must wait until the next 4-H year to join.
  • If a member is 8 years or under as of January 1, he is a Cloverbud member. 
  • If a member is 9 years or older on January 1, she is a Junior or Senior 4-H club member.
  • If a teen will be age 18 on December 31, he can join for the entire 4-H year.
  • If a teen is age 19 on January 1, he cannot join 4-H but is encouraged to serve as a 4-H volunteer.
  • Collegiate 4-H Clubs are available at many colleges and universities for those wishing to continue 4-H activities into their early twenties.

4-H is always looking for new volunteers and 4-H alumni make great 4-H leaders. Once someone ages out of the participation ages, a wide variety of 4-H volunteer opportunities await them.

Age Appropriateness and Competition

All 4-H programs and activities shall be offered on an age-appropriate basis that should consider the mental and physical readiness of youth, availability of suitable curriculum materials, adequate supervision, and the health and safety of participants.

4-H Cloverbuds are limited to participation in non-competitive activities. Ideally, separate, age-appropriate learning activities should be offered to 4-H Cloverbuds that may eventually lead to their participation in full-fledged competitive events when they are at least nine years of age. However, if Cloverbuds are part of a competitive event involving older youth, they shall not be judged and will receive only recognition of participation (such as a green ribbon, small prize or token).

For more information about 4-H Age & Cloverbud Participation Policy, refer to 4-H Cloverbuds: 4-H for Younger Members in the 4-H Leader Training Series (PDF 449 kB).