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, without regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital or family status.
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:
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.
- 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.
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.
Helpful 4-H Project Books & Other Publications
4-H uses a variety of appealing, hands-on curriculum materials to help make learning fun for youth. Many necessary materials for 4-H projects, such as member and leader guides and project record books, can be obtained from your county 4-H office or the Publications page of this web site at nominal cost.
South Carolina relies especially on 4-H project materials from the National 4-H Cooperative Curriculum System (4-HCCS). To view the many choices or to place an order, visit the Shop 4-H Store.
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:
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 selection of 4-H awards and recognition, usually at the club/county level.
- Learn how to organize themselves
- Learn how to set reasonable goals
- Appreciate what they’ve learned this year from the goals they reached
- Recognize what they learned in your 4-H project
- Explain what they’ve 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.
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.