We are so excited to kick off the new 4-H year alongside you. 4-H provides an opportunity for all youth to thrive and your service makes it all possible. The beginning of the 4-H year is a natural time for many new families to check out their local 4-H program, so it is especially important that we ensure our clubs are welcoming and go the extra mile, early on, to build and strengthen the sense of belonging young people have.
Here are a few strategies we’d encourage you to use as the new year begins and young people get their first taste of 4-H.
- Avoid 4-H jargon: Explain things based on what they are not what they are called, for instance BLU as a “Leadership Workshop” and “4-H Club Officers” as “Youth Leadership roles.”
- Create a Club welcome packet (see sample): Pass these out to new members so they feel a part of the group and know when to meet and who to contact
- Build a welcoming committee: Charge this group of youth and volunteer mentors to design a club t-shirt, lead a welcoming activity at each meeting or pair up family mentors with new families
- Create space for relationships to form: There are many resources available to create connections between members and many can be led by youth leaders. Try them out!
- Take the second step: A few days after your first meeting, follow up with new families to gather feedback. Ask them how the club did at welcoming them, and if there are things you can do better next time. Encourage them to come again and be excited about their interest.
Most importantly, as new members join, ensure that their ideas, voice and opinions are heard and validated so that each club can grow to be the sum of its membership. Thank you for the part you will play this year in welcoming and supporting new families!