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4-H clover Understanding 4-H policies

Why policies, rules and deadlines?

Policies guide decisions and help us to reach good outcomes. Minnesota 4-H policies direct staff, volunteers, members and their families on how to act in the program. All 4-H members, parents and volunteers (individual, club, county, regional, state, national, tribal nation and international levels) are subject to the policies, rules, deadlines and behavior standards that govern participation and involvement.

Written rules define acceptable behavior, actions and operations. Rules have consequences when they're not followed. Minnesota 4-H has rules for membership, volunteering, youth and adult behavior -- our code of conduct -- participating in projects and competitive events, and use of resources.

Deadlines are the dates by which something needs to be completed. Minnesota 4-H sets some deadlines statewide and some are set locally. Deadlines may or may not have consequences. Every Minnesota 4-H member is eligible for a "one-time exemption" from the consequences associated with missing a single competitive event deadline.

How are 4-H policies, rules and deadlines determined?

When considering whether to implement or change a policy, rule or guideline, Minnesota 4-H considers:

  • Is this a legal expectation required by their group exemption status as a public non-profit organization and/or by federal and/or state statute?
  • Is this a requirement of the University of Minnesota Extension, University of Minnesota, and/or National 4-H Headquarters at NIFA?
  • Will this attract and retain youth, volunteers and partners who reflect a broad interpretation of diversity?
  • Will this reflect positive youth development principles and practices?
  • Will this enhance the quality of the learning environment?
  • Will this ensure an equitable and uniform opportunity for participation in cooperative and competitive learning experiences?
  • Will this promote and expect efficient and effective use of fiscal and human resources?


Minnesota 4-H Youth Development is a part of the University of Minnesota. We offer a range of short- and long-term educational programs to meet the needs of young people. All youth participating in Minnesota 4-H Youth Development programs are considered 4-H members. This definition of membership emphasizes our public and organizational commitment to ensuring the diverse youth of this state have equal opportunity for participation (intensity, duration, breadth) in high-quality (safe, supportive, interactive, engaging) learning experiences. Learn more about how youth can participate in 4-H.

Anyone in kindergarten through one year past high school (grade 13) may enroll. To enroll in grade 13, the young person must have been enrolled in Minnesota 4-H as a high school senior. Refer to special circumstances to determine eligibility of youth who are home-schooled, enrolled in a post secondary option, receiving special education services or withdrawn from school.

When youth join 4-H they enroll as a Minnesota 4-H member in a specific county or tribal nation. You may be a members of 4-H in any county, tribal nation, or state, as boundaries should not be barriers to 4-H membership. As a rule, you can be a member in only one county, in only one tribal nation and in only one state. Refer to special circumstances (below) for exceptions.


Projects and events


Competitive events


Exemptions and grievance


Reviewed in 2023

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