October 6, 2010

4-H - Get together and have fun!

Get Together to Have Fun and Learn!
Clubs are one of the most popular aspects of the 4H Youth Development Program. While today’s 4H offers many options for young people, clubs provide opportunities for
them to get together to learn by doing, make new friends, and develop teamwork and
leadership skills.

Youth ages 8 to 18 can belong to 4H clubs or groups and choose projects and activities that match their interests. Five to eight year olds who want to participate in organized clubs belong to Cloverbuds, which is designed to meet their developmental needs. Cloverbuds emphasizes cooperative learning and excludes competitive events. More and more clubs Bonner County are making Cloverbuds part of their 4H programs.

What Kind of Club Could We Have?
Clubs can be either general 4H clubs or they can focus on interest topics, such as the
environment, pets, photography, or other 4H subject areas. They can be organized in a
variety of ways:
• Neighborhood Club—Youth and families in the same neighborhood
• Community Club—Youth and families in the same or nearby communities
• Child Care Program—Kids in the same daycare or afterschool
• Interest or Project Club—Young people who want to learn about a specific interest or
• Cloverbuds—Families who live close together and have children ages 5 to 8
• Community Service Club—Youth who want to concentrate on doing community
service projects in their communities, schools, etc.
• Church Group—Families and youth who attend the same church
• Home School Group—Families who educate their children at home
• Other—Any group of youth who want to come together to form a club
Be Creative!

4H groups can operate in virtually any way that meets the needs of kids as long as
positive youth development is the foundation of the club.
Think of All the Possibilities!

Here are some examples of 4H clubs based on a variety of interests:
• A daycare provider works with the local Extension staff to set up a 4H
club in an after school daycare program. The daycare provider meets every week with Katie’s Kids to carry out fun, learning experiences around a variety of interests and projects at their club meetings. They even made a project to exhibit at the county fair.
• The River Rangers, young people interested in the environment, enjoy activities related to environmental issues and activities. Advised by volunteer leaders (a science teacher and a forester), they formed a club that canoes, builds bat boxes, and coordinates an environmental fair, among other projects and activities. Some members of this club also participate in other events and activities in a general 4Hclub.
• The Jackson Action Club meets once a month during the school year and twice a month in the summer. Youth leaders each plan and conduct one meeting. Ten minutes are set aside at each meeting for business. Activities include visiting a nature center,
constructing bird feeders for the elderly, and touring a bank where they learned a
lesson on the time value of money—and more! All of this happens with less than two
hours of business during the entire year.
• Twelve high school students formed the High Impact Club based on their interest in
agribusiness careers. At the start of the year, they chose twelve learning projects and
assigned someone to plan each one. Every month the club gets together for their
program: touring a poultry facility, chatting with Chinese exchange students, or
searching the World Wide Web for information on agricultural careers and training.
• In the Flower Ridge 4H Club, leadership is shared among all adults and youth. A list is
devised at the beginning of the year, and each leader signs up for one area of
responsibility. The leader recruits parents and youth to help. Areas of responsibility
include monthly meetings, new families and promotion, liaison with the Extension
office and county meetings, project work, Cloverbuds, enrollment, and county

What About Rules?
4H club rules should create a flexible and adaptable framework, not stifle kids’
growth or interests. Any rules should contribute to positive youth development and focus on such fundamental issues as safety and mutual respect. Kids must be in charge of making the rules. That’s leadership development!

How Should 4H Club Meetings Look?
Club gatherings can look however the kids choose for them to look—it’s their club.
They can change in format. Think about why members are involved and stay involved.
What are they looking for? Help the kids plan club gatherings to meet those needs.
Business meetings may be useful at times, but they shouldn’t be a focal point of every

How Do We Recruit Members and Adult Leaders?
First, how many members will be in the club? Clubs can have as few as five members or as many as the leader feels can be included effectively in the group. Six to 10 members per adult leader may be best. However, it depends on the number and variety of activities in your club. It also depends on how many other leaders will be working with you. Limit your first group to a number with which you and your co-leaders feel comfortable!

Recruiting members is seldom hard to do. Contact your county Extension office — they usually have names of kids who want to join a club. Your Extension staff may have a recruiting program or ideas for recruiting club members.

You may find it helpful to recruit other adults to help with advising the group. Interested parents, 4H alumni, or friends are often willing to help. This gives the leader much needed assistance and provides continuity for club meetings. An older, experienced teen member can help teach younger members and lead activities. In recruiting, be sure that programs are equally open to all people without regard to race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, marital status, disability, or veteran status. Diversity enriches our lives and builds our communities!

How Do We Enroll My Group as a 4H Club?
Enrollment is required for participation in a 4H club. The Bonner County Extension office has the necessary enrollment forms. These forms can be downloaded from the Bonner County Web site at http://www.uidaho.edu/extension/bonner.

The 4H year starts October 1 and runs through September 30. All 4H members must reenroll every year. It’s a good idea to enroll early so you and your members stay continually on the mailing list and receive notices of all events and activities. Some of the larger Bonner County clubs have a deadline for enrollment.

Do 4H Members Pay Fees?
Bonner County members pay an enrollment fee of $13, or $15 for members taking the horse project per year. This fee helps to pay for materials for up to three projects, insurance and state fees. Addition projects may be added for $3 per project. 4-H is still one of the least expensive youth programs in our area.

Where Will Our Club Meet?
The number and location of members may determine where your club meets. Clubs meet in Extension offices, schools, community halls, churches, even car dealerships and banks! It may be easiest to meet at the leader’s home, which may be the only available location. Many clubs rotate meetings to give each family an opportunity to host a meeting.

How Often Will Our Club Meet?
Work with your club members to find the best time for them to get together.
Possibilities for choosing a day and times for club meetings include the following:
• Once a week, after school (This works well for elementary age members.)
• Every 2 weeks, after school or on a weeknight
• Once a month, on a weeknight
• Once a month, on a Saturday or Sunday
• Other variations, determined by the needs of your club members

What about Project Materials?
Project materials, such as publications and other support materials, can be ordered and picked up at your county Extension office.

As with any youth organization, there is a process to become a 4-H leader, including an application, interview, background check and training. This is for the childs safety as well as the adults. Once the registration process is done, the reward of working with youth and being a positive role model can be very fulfilling.

Contact the Nancy Wright at the Bonner County Extension Office, 263-8511,
niwright@uidaho.edu, or on line at http://www.uidaho.edu/extension/bonner for more information about becoming a leader and forming a club.

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