- What is a 4-H Club? The Official Definition
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. 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.
- Why 4-H Clubs?
Being in a 4-H club provides important opportunities for youth to learn subject matter and life skills while working with a caring adult and other youth. Once youth are 4-H members, they become eligible for a variety of benefits of belonging to 4-H, including awards, trips, special events, etc. Of course, it's meant to be fun for the kids and the leaders too!
- Different 4-H Clubs for Different Ages
4-H has lots to do no matter what you're interested in or where you live. Membership in a 4-H club is offered to all youth, ages 5-19, on an age-appropriate basis. Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to people of all ages, regardless of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital or family status and is an equal opportunity employer.
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.
- Expectations of 4-H Clubs and Members of 4-H Clubs
In general, all 4-H club members are expected to meet the following standards each year:
- Attend at least 70 percent of regular club meetings.
- Complete a 4-H project, doing one’s own work with minimal assistance from parents or others.
- Give a club, community, or county 4-H presentation.
- Complete a 4-H project record book.
These are the minimum expectations. Each club may have additional requirements. All club rules and policies should be contained in its club constitution. To join a 4-H club or find out more about what 4-H has to offer, contact or visit the Extension Office in the county where you live. Most counties also have local 4-H information on their own web sites. You can find out what types of 4-H clubs are available and when and where they meet.
- Starting a 4-H Club
If the type of 4-H club you're interested in doesn't exist in the area where you live, it only takes a helpful adult to be a 4-H leader and a small group of kids who want to learn and have fun together. Your county 4-H staff can help with the rest!
Most 4-H clubs are led by volunteers, which may include staff in after-school sites, military installations, etc. Starting a 4-H club isn't difficult and you are encouraged to seek help from parents or other volunteers. Local Extension/4-H staff can help you get started.
Be sure to identify your 4-H club as a 4-H club!
Create a constitution for your club.
- Be an Active and Successful 4-H Club
- Learn how to elect officers and run business meetings.
- Field trips can be a great contribution to the 4-H philosophy of "Learning by Doing". 4-H members can observe and participate in a real-life 4-H project-related experience.
- Your club can promote 4-H to attract new members and let the public know how important 4-H is to the community.
- Let the public know what your 4-H club is doing by sending a news release to local media.
- Help others in the community by conducting a service project.
- Successful clubs result from all members and leaders working together.
- 4-H Project Record Books
4-H club members are expected to complete an annual 4-H project record. Keeping a 4-H record book will help youth:
- Learn how to organize themselves
- Learn how to set reasonable goals
- Appreciate what they have learned this year from the goals they reached
- Recognize what they learned in their 4-H project
- Explain what they have learned
- Keep track of costs of their project
- Gather information needed to apply for awards and scholarships
- Complete applications and resumes for jobs and college
- Meet requirements to participate in some county, state, or national 4-H events.
4-H project record books are often used as an indication of the quality of a 4-H member’s work during the year and to help with the selection of 4-H awards and recognition, usually at the club/county level.
- Becoming a 4-H Club Leader
4-H has a responsibility to provide a safe and healthy environment for youth. Therefore, all 4-H volunteers complete a screening and orientation process before being appointed. To register to be a 4-H volunteer, complete a 4-H Volunteer Registration Form and the Extension Volunteer Status Form (authorizing background and references check). Please contact your County Extension 4-H Office for more information on the needs for 4-H volunteers where you live.
- Training & Resources for 4-H Club Leaders
The 4-H Leader Training Series is the official source of orientation and training materials for all 4-H volunteers in South Carolina. It is especially valuable for 4-H club leaders and contains a wealth of information from how to start a club to planning field trips to how to work with youth.