4-H Family Guide
Is your family new to 4-H? Welcome! We are glad you chose us to help your child reach his/her fullest potential. Here are a few basics to help you become familiar with 4-H as you begin your journey with us:
- The 4-H year starts September 1st through August 31st. Whatever your child’s age is on September 1st is his/her “4-H Age” and determines his/her eligibility for certain programs.
- There are four age divisions in 4-H (you can find policies for participation based on age here):
- Cloverbuds (ages 5-7)
- Juniors (ages 8-10)
- Intermediates (ages 11-13)
- Seniors (ages 14-18)
- Youth can participate in 4-H through a variety of methods (camps, school programs, after school programs, and clubs). Youth can participate in all or just one of these delivery modes, or types of 4-H memberships.
- To join a club, you will want to enroll through 4HOnline. Many counties offer an Open House, or Kickoff night where families can preview the different types of clubs available in their community. Some clubs offer a variety of projects, while other clubs focus on a particular project (like archery or sewing) or a project area (like animal science or leadership). Some clubs meet all year and others may only meet for six consecutive weeks (SPIN clubs- special interest clubs). If you are not sure which club is the best fit for your family, schedule an appointment with your local UF IFAS 4-H Extension Agent.
Preparing for your first club meeting:
- There is no uniform for 4-H, but some clubs will order shirts for youth to wear when they go on field trips or compete in contests.
- Clubs typically open with icebreakers, or get to know you games (especially at the beginning of the 4-H year).
- The club business meeting lasts about 1/4 of the total club meeting and is always opened with the American Pledge and the 4-H Pledge. Check out this video to learn the 4-H Pledge. During the business meeting, youth will give committee reports, discuss and vote on club business, and announce other 4-H opportunities. Clubs made up of primarily Cloverbud members do not have elected officers, but encourage members to take turn leading the pledges and helping with the business meetings.
- The first club meeting is the organizational meeting. During this meeting, youth will plan the club calendar and elect officers. If it is a new club, they will also select a name for the club.
- Once the club calendar is set, about half of the club meeting time will be spent on educational activities. This may include a guest speaker, field trip, or a hands-on activity to learn about a subject or project area.
- Every club participates in at least one service project each year, decided on by the club members.
- The last 1/4 of the meeting is usually spent on recreation- this can be icebreakers or team building activities. Sometimes, it is just a time to socialize while enjoying light refreshments.
What is the role of the parent? 4-H is a family affair, offering many opportunities where both child and parent participate in common interests. This not only strengthens the club, but strengthens family ties. When parental support is positive, the club is likely to become stronger, larger, and more active because parent volunteers help broaden the scope and reach of the club. A few ways parents can support and strengthen the club include:
- Arriving on time and being prepared (if working project books, make sure your child has theirs)
- Offering to help with a club meeting or activity
- Sign up to help with refreshments
- Offer to share a skill or knowledge that you have by becoming a 4-H project leader
We are glad to have you as a part of our 4-H Family and look forward to getting to know yours!