Welcome to Dakota County
Dakota County partners with Extension to deliver practical education and research you can use at home, at work and in your community.
Dakota County 4-H
What is 4-H?
4-H is an out-of-school, hands-on learning program for people grades Kindergarten through one year past high school. Youth choose a project that’s interesting to them and explore it with peers and caring adults. 4-H clubs are groups of youth who want to learn together and meet in every part of Minnesota. Dakota County has 17 community clubs to choose from.
The 4-H year is October 1 through September 30.
What can I do in 4-H?
The sky’s the limit! 4-H offers learning experiences in science, photography, agriculture, healthy living, civic engagement and much more. We have one-day events, year-long projects and everything in between. There are many ways to try 4-H.
Minnesota 4-H Projects
4-H is all about project-based learning. What are you into? From animal science to creative arts, and more, there's something for everyone. Choose something that interests you and dive in. Watch this video about what a 4-H project is to learn more.
Request information on 4-H
How do I join 4-H?
Review the club information list to learn more about clubs in your area. Contact club leaders for specific club details. Visit a club meeting or two to see if the club is a good fit for your family. Become a 4-H member to open up a host of resources and opportunities such as showcase and judging experiences, scholarships, leadership trips and more.
Youth need to register through 4-H Online, our online registration database.
“I pledge my Head to clearer thinking, my Heart to greater loyalty, my Hands to larger service, and my Health to better living, for my family, my club, my community, my country, and my world.”
- The Head is to signify clearer thinking.
- The Heart is to signify greater loyalty.
- The Hands are to signify larger service.
- The Health is to signify better living.
“To make the best better.”
Volunteer with 4-H
Join Dakota County 4-H
4-H has something for everyone! 4-H is for youth in grades Kindergarten through one year past high school. The primary way that youth get involved in 4-H is through community clubs.
4-H enrollment period is Oct. 1 through May 15. You can enroll in 4-H at any time however, some events require enrollment before May 15 to participate. The sooner you enroll, the better so you don't miss any important communication or events. May 15 is also the deadline that all animals must be identified in your 4-H Online family profile, to participate in county fair shows.
Events such as the county fair and the Minnesota State Fair require member enrollment before May 15.
4-H members must enroll/re-enroll each year through 4-H Online.
- Join 4-H for the first time or re-enroll
- 4-H Online 2.0 enrollment guide for families
- New to 4-H? Go to page 2 to enroll as a new member.
- What is Minnesota 4-H?
- Enroll as an independent member
Find a 4-H club in Dakota County
Dakota County 4-H has 17 community clubs. The Dakota County 4-H club information sheet has detailed information about our clubs. Choose a club that works best for your family's schedule so you can get the most out of your 4-H experience.
Annual county 4-H membership dues are $25/member. Families complete the Family Membership Dues Form and submit it with payment directly to the Dakota County Extension Office, 4100 220th St. West, #101, Farmington, MN 55024. Membership dues should be paid when you enroll in 4-H Online. Scholarships are available for membership dues.
All 4-H communication is through email. Watch your inbox for our Friday Forecast weekly update about upcoming program offerings. Please check the Dakota County 4-H website and your email often for information on current 4-H events and deadlines in Dakota County.
What is a 4-H project?
Register for a 4-H event
Become a Dakota County 4-H volunteer
Questions about joining 4-H? Contact 4-H staff
- Dakota County 4-H Scholarship Details - Eligibility, Guidelines, Scholarship Amount - 2023-24
- 2022-23 Dakota County 4-H Year Scholarship Request Form
- Dakota County 4-H proposed 2022-23 budget
- Dakota County 4-H Family Membership Dues Form
- 4-H Online 2.0 animal ID'ing
- Dakota County adult volunteer screening information and application
- Dakota County - 4-H Competitive Events: Deadlines, Consequences and Exemptions - 2023
Livestock and animal projects
You will find the animal science information for Dakota County here as it becomes available.
- Dakota County Animal ID letter & Ear Tag Order -March 28, 2023
- Dakota County Horse ID letter - 2023
- Dakota County Dog ID letter - 2023
- 4-H animal science projects - find species specific information sheets
- 4-H animal ID - MN 4-H animal ID pages
- MN 4-H Animal Science identification requirements
- Leasing a 4-H animal
- How to Read Ear Notches of Pigs
- Animal ID'ing in 4-H Online user guide
Animal science help guides
Dog project information
- Dog Affidavit and Vaccination Verification Form (Dog ID Form)
- Dakota County 4-H Dog Project Handbook - 2023
- Minnesota 4-H Dog Project website
- Aggressive Dog Policy
Dog training class information
- Dog Training Class Information and Registration Form - 2023
- Dog Training Schedule - training held on Mondays, beginning May 1, 2023
- Dog Training Volunteer Sign-up - 2023
Horse project information
Static (general) project
Shooting Sports & Wildlife
- Wildlife opportunities
4-H Youth Development is a hands-on learning program for Minnesota youth. We offer online, small group and independent learning experiences for youth of all ages. In 4-H, youth choose the topic they find interesting and caring adults support their learning and leadership. From agronomy to space exploration and creative arts to outdoor adventures, 4-H has just the right learning experience for young people.
There are many ways to participate in 4-H!
Dakota County clubs
Dakota County has 17 active 4-H clubs. To learn more, contact Dakota County 4-H staff.
Volunteer with 4-H - Apply to become a 4-H volunteer | UMN Extension
The 2024 Dakota County Fair is August 5-11 at the Dakota County Fairgrounds in Farmington.
Volunteering at the Fair
- Static Judging Day/Judges Assistants Volunteer sign-up - Saturday, August 3, 2024
- 4-H Barn Malt Stand sign-up - 2023
- 4-H Dining Hall sign-up - 2023
Static (non-livestock) state fair line-up
Click this link to access the state fair line-up.
EMAIL 4-H staff at firstname.lastname@example.org to accept or decline your state fair trips. You MUST notify 4-H staff that you plan to accept (or decline) your trip no later than Noon on Thursday, August 10, 2023.
Youth who have completed 6th grade, who enrolled and registered for the fair by the respective deadlines, can be eligible.
Fair registration - opens June 13, 2023
County fair exhibit registration is completed using FairEntry.com. Registration closes at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, July 10, 2023. Review the FairEntry user guides and tutorials for more details.
Club Exhibit Registration Form - 2023; clubs leaders should submit by July 10 deadline.
Judging Time Slot Links -
- Photography - judging July 26, 2023
- Video & Computer - judging July 26, 2023
- Public Presentation (demonstrations) - judging July 26, 2023
Support Dakota County 4-H at the fair
Contact 4-H staff at email@example.com for information on supporting the Dakota County 4-H Livestock Auction, the Blue Ribbon Dairy Fund and county fair champion awards.
County Fair Resources
- Dakota County 4-H Clothing Judging information letter - 2023
- Accommodations Request Form - due July 10, 2023
- Oversized Exhibit Request Form - due July 10, 2023
- 4-H Projects to Bring to the County and State Fairs - revised 2022
- Preparing Youth for 4-H Conference Judging
- Static Exhibit Absentee Judging Sheet - revised 2023
- 4-H Competitive Events: Absentee Judging of Projects at County Fair - 2023
- 4-H Competitive Events: Judging Experiences for Youth with Disabilities or Injuries - 2023
- Preparing Parents for Conference Judging
- 4-H policies
- State 4-H project evaluation / judging criteria sheets
- Helpful hints when preparing for the fair
Animal Science/Livestock Fair Resources
- Livestock pre-fair letter (beef, dairy, goat, poultry, rabbit, sheep, swine) - 2023
- Dairy production and genetics forms - due July 31 at Animal Science Night
- IAFE (International Association of Fairs and Expositions) Code of Show Ring Ethics
- 4-H animal science projects
- Horse County Fair Registration letter - 2023
- Horse t-shirt order (optional) - DUE July 10, 2023
- Horse Stalling Intentions for county fair - DUE July 10, 2023
- Horse Fair Volunteer Shift sign-up - 2023
- Horse Fair Color Guard sign-up - 2023
- Dakota County 4-H Horse Project Handbook - 2023
Camping at the Dakota County Fairgrounds during the county fair
Dakota County Fair camping application, map and agreement - 2023; due July 22
Dakota County 4-H Auction - Saturday, August 12, 2023 at 10 a.m.
Dakota County 4-H Auction Program
2023 State Event Results
State Dog Show
Find the latest on Extension agricultural research and news you can use on your farm from local experts.
Statewide news and blogs
- Agricultural Business Management News - Business and financial resources for farmers.
- Beef News - Beef industry featured events, farm safety and animal health.
- Dairy News - Dairy industry featured events, farm safety and animal health.
- Fruit and Vegetable News - Local production and marketing of fruit and vegetable crops in Minnesota.
- Minnesota Crop News - Emerging issues affecting Minnesota row crops and forages.
Become a Dakota County Master Gardener
If you have a love of gardening, a desire for learning and a will to share your knowledge with others, consider becoming a University of Minnesota Master Gardener in Dakota County.
Master Gardener applications are due Oct. 1 of the current year.
Complete the Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program online application form.
About the program
Master Gardeners are committed to providing the highest quality, research-based horticultural information and educational activities that enhance our community's environment and quality of life.
The mission of the Dakota County Extension Master Gardener program is to educate and assist the public by answering questions and solving problems about horticulture and related environmental topics. Close to 190 Dakota County residents are University of Minnesota Extension-trained and volunteer thousands of hours each year as Master Gardeners.
The program is an outreach activity of the University of Minnesota. The focus for volunteers is to be of service in local communities and share research-based gardening and horticultural information throughout Minnesota. The Master Gardener Volunteer Program strives to recruit a diverse group of volunteers who reflect the communities in which they live.
The Dakota County Master Gardeners host an annual "Plant Sale" in May. Rain or shine!
When: 2024 date to be announced; 8 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Where: Whitetail Woods Regional Park, 17100 Station Trail, Farmington
Minnesota native plant seedlings, tomatoes, peppers, and herbs will be available for sale in containers. Sun and shade perennials, annuals, groundcovers, and shrubs that have been dug from volunteers’ gardens will be bare rooted. This means the roots are cleaned of dirt, then carefully wrapped and watered. It does not hurt the plant but is a safer way to share plants while helping to protect buyers’ gardens from invasive jumping worms.
Plant Sale buyers are encouraged to bring boxes and wagons and to arrive early for the best selection.
Proceeds support University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener programs in Dakota County, including offering education for all ages, growing produce for local food shelves, increasing habitat for pollinators, and more.
Dakota County Master Gardeners will also accept any one-gallon plastic pots to recycle.
Let's Get Growing is an event for home gardeners of all skill levels looking to learn more and have a great time. This event includes interesting and informative classes on a wide variety of gardening topics, morning refreshments, silent auction, lunch and a chance to win door prizes too. Classes are taught by University of Minnesota Master Gardeners as well as horticulture professionals.
Join us for a day of education and fun on Saturday, February 25, 2023 - 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Rosemount Community Center.
Come to enjoy friendly people, a garden marketplace where you can peruse and purchase books, garden decor and more (cash and check only please) and a spring-time atmosphere! Pre-registration required.
Choose from these tantalizing topics:
- Gardening A to M
- Planting Perennials for All Seasons
- Easy to Grow Fruits in Your Minnesota Garden
- Navigating Native Plants
- Lawns and Legumes-The Importance of White Cover in Bee Lawns
- Gardening N to Z
- Selecting and Planting Annual
- E-Z Steps to Sustainable Gardening
- Landscaping for Clean Water
- Resilient Native Plantings for a Changing Landscape
Keynote Speaker and author Meg Cowden will share insights from her new book titled Plant Grow Harvest Repeat. More information about the speakers and their topics can be found on the Dakota County Master Gardener website.
Visit the for a complete schedule, workshop descriptions and registration information for Let's Get Growing.
- Ask a Master Gardener to get your yard and garden questions by email or over the phone.
- Find resources on the yard and garden pages.
- Learn about being a Master Gardener volunteer
- Master Naturalist volunteers work in your community
- Yard and Garden News
Do you have additional questions relating to canning, freezing, and preserving?
Contact the AnswerLine at 1-800-854-1678, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. - 12 noon and 1-4 p.m., or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Health and nutrition
Extension offers a variety of educational programs about nutrition and health in Dakota County. These programs are open to families and individuals of all ages who are eligible for benefits through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or who meet Extension’s program income guidelines.
Programs are offered in community settings such as food shelves, schools, community centers and public housing sites. The programs are free to all individuals and families who meet income guidelines, and may be offered in multiple languages, depending on the audience needs and availability of educators.
Extension engages Minnesotans to strengthen the social, civic, economic and technological capacity of their communities. We help create vibrant communities and enhance skills and knowledge in economics, leadership and civic engagement, and tourism.
Check our community research page for reports on county and community-focused topics relating to local economics, retaining businesses, growing retail markets, developing tourism, and more.
Local programs can be offered in collaboration with local community organizations and government agencies. Current programs include:
- Growing Local: Northfield Emerging Leaders Program
- Minnesota Agricultural and Rural Leadership (MARL)
Contact an educator in your area for consultation, guidance and conversation about your community.
Minnesota is a great place to explore, understand and conserve the natural landscape. Extension education, volunteer and community science programs encourage people to become stewards of Minnesota’s public and private lands.
Join us at an event in your community.
Find opportunities to learn about the natural environment, how to care for your forest lands, and how you and your family can get out and explore nature around the state and in your own backyard.
Find information on community-focused news.
Find out how to take care of your trees and enjoy Minnesota's beautiful woodlands.
From preserving our wetlands to combating invasive species, read about protecting and enjoying nature.
Learn more about community-driven sustainability projects happening across Minnesota.
Dakota County Extension
U of M Extension, Dakota County
4100 220th St. West, Suite 101
Farmington, MN 55024
Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (by appointment is preferred)
Jessica Beissel, Extension educator, 4-H Youth Development
Kirsten Pederson, Extension educator, 4-H Youth Development
Rachel Rezac, Extension educator, 4-H Youth Development
Kris Vatter, Extension educator, 4-H Youth Development
Cherie Frandrup, Executive administrative assistant
Extension brings Minnesotans together to build a better future through University science-based knowledge, expertise and training. Learn more about Extension by visiting our about page and by browsing this website.