4-H club leaders provide experiences that promote positive youth development for all members. They also
Inform and encourage members, parents, and other volunteers to actively participate in appropriate 4-H opportunities
Mentor, assist, and advise 4-H members in the overall management of the 4-H group
Serve as a liaison between the local Extension office, staff, and 4-H members, their parents and other volunteers regarding 4-H group programs
Beginning the 4-H year
Leading a 4-H club meeting
Engage early arrivers
Engage members that arrive early in an activity. This makes them feel part of the group and encourages families to arrive on time. For new families, this helps them get acquainted with other families in the club. These are activities young people can plan and lead.
- Balloon flying
- Blind creature creation
- Bubble-blowing contest
- Coin toss
- Freeze dance
- Guessing Games
- Hot potato
- Idea generation
- Melting ice
- Twenty questions
Additional resources for engaging club members.
- How to make youth feel they belong in your program
- Youth work and the art of hosting
- Building a sense of belonging
- Pre-meeting 4-H activities from Iowa State
- Social and emotional learning toolkit
The sense of belonging and having supportive relationships are foundational to a positive experience for youth. Planning “get to know you” activities at each club meeting is important to develop each of these. Knowing a person’s name and something about them is important to forming a supportive relationship with them.
- Face to Face / Back to Back
- Four Corners
- Friendship Card
- Name Tag Scramble
- The Story of Your Name
- Walk & Talk
- Zip and Zap
Additional resources for engaging club members.
- List 2-3 items to be accomplished at this meeting.
- Example: Decide club fundraising activity; learn about animal tracks; have fun with recreation activity
During a business meeting, members learn how to practice democratic decision-making. Use parliamentary procedure and other group decision-making options to ensure youth voice is heard. Starting and ending each meeting with the same ritual establishes a structured routine. Youth feel safe when activities start and end on time, when expectations are clear, explained and shared by both youth and adults. This meeting should be short.
Sample business meeting
Pick and choose items that make sense for your group’s experience.
- 4-H Pledge
- Roll Call
- Secretary's report: Secretary record book
- Treasurer's report: Treasurer record book
- Committee reports
- Action items
- Unfinished business: Business not completed from previous meeting
- New business: Business that needs to be brought before the group for a decision.
- Program goals update: Upcoming programs of interest that are helping us meet 4-H program goals
Additional resources for your business meetings.
A primary goal of a group meeting is for youth to learn and explore new concepts. Involve youth in planning and leading the learning activities.
Themed club agendas that include an educational activity, which sets the theme for the club meeting.
Individual lessons and curricula on social and emotional skills, healthy living, college readiness, STEM and more.
Set the stage for learning
- What are we going to learn about today?
- Introduce new words or concepts.
- Leader models or demonstrates skills for youth.
- Provide youth hands on activities to apply or explore learning.
Include a reflection relating to the learning activity
Recreational activities are for the personal enjoyment and satisfaction they bring. Including these activities in your meetings provides an opportunity to work together while building group spirit and cooperation. It can encourage creativity, adds variety to the meeting and helps members to relax by having fun!
A great way to involve youth in leading is to ask them to pick a game and teach the rest of the group how to play the game.
Additional recreational activities resources
Reflection is a review of what has happened, how young people feel and what it all means. Reflecting on an experience allows youth to process new information so learning can occur.
Reflection typically occurs after an educational/learning activity however it can happen in multiple places during a meeting. It allows youth to make sense and learn from experiences. Reflection recaptures experiences, considers how young people's feelings connect to experiences, evaluates experiences and connects experiences to their ideas about how the world works.
Discuss at least one of the four values the 4-H Pledge reflects, discuss the ways in which you are doing this currently and strategize how to carry out these values.
- What did you enjoy most about the activities today?
- What would you like to explore further?
- What do you like most about 4-H and why do you keep coming back?
- What would you share with others about your 4-H experience today?
- How did we care for others in the club today?
- How did we listen to others today?
- Thinking about what we have learned and explored today, where else could you use these skills?
- How did you serve others today?
- What would you like to do at the next meeting?
- How do new families or kids find out about our group?
- What youth do you know that are not involved in 4-H? How can we include them?
- What might be getting in the way of new kids joining?
How did we do?
Leaders initiate structured opportunities for youth to provide feedback on their experience and the activities. Ask new families about their experience at the 4-H meeting.
Example feedback questions
Poll youth at the end of the session to see how the session went.
- How did the club meeting work for you today?
- Fist to Five - asking young people to rate their experience using their fingers, 5 fingers meaning it was GREAT, and fist (zero) meaning not so great.
- Leader asks - did we miss anything today? Is there something we could have improved upon?
Managing 4-H club operations
Financial and risk management policies and practices are designed to maintain the integrity of 4-H, provide safe and healthy environments, and ensure 4-H programs meet the needs of youth.
- Basic principles, policies and practices