Volunteer Training Series: Naming Your 4-H Club
So you’re getting ready to get kids together to start a 4-H Club. One of the biggest questions for a lot of adults and the youth involved is what do we call it?? Well, first of all, keep 4-H in the name.
Next, 4-H clubs are a unique group of young people working together with goals that are similar. A club name should reflect the members of the club; their purpose for meeting, maybe the project they focus on, the geographic area where members live, or even where the club meets. One of the first ways to develop a sense of belonging and youth engagement is allowing all of the members to participate in selecting a name for the club. This selection process would be the perfect time to introduce youth to parliamentary procedure. Read Volunteer Training Series: Parliamentary Procedure for 4-H Clubs for more information on parliamentary procedure. And, don’t think that the decision has to be made at the first meeting. You can give the youth a month to ponder it.
Since 4-H is an educational youth development program, committed to equal opportunities for all, be sure to keep this in mind when guiding youth in selecting a club name. As a part of the University of Florida IFAS Extension, and publicly-funded by county, state and federal governments, 4-H does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, veteran’s status, or disability. Therefore, please be sure that the club name selected is not biased for or against certain groups in any of these categories. It is possible to overlook subtle insinuations that some club names might accidentally exhibit.
Naming a Club can be FUN!
Creative or cute names for 4-H clubs are fine. But consider whether any potential club members might shy away from joining just because of a misleading name. Have youth consider whether the name will grow as the 4-H members grow. To maintain a positive image for the entire 4-H program, club names should neither shock nor confuse the public. Trendy names rarely stand the test of time.
“The Sewing Susans” or “The Pony Girls 4-H Club” would not be allowed as a 4-H Club name as the name obviously discriminates against boys; the name chosen must be appropriate to either sex. “The Nimble Thimbles 4-H Club” would be a much better choice. But, make sure such a “cute” name wouldn’t be a turn-off to any members or potential members. Teens are the main ones that could be offended by names that are “cute.”
For a 4-H gardening club: “The Dirty Hands” would not be as appropriate as “The Green Thumbs 4-H Gardening Club” or “The Grow-Kids 4-H Club.”
Choosing the name
It doesn’t take much to make the decision of what a club’s name should be. Just be patient and remember that it could take some extra time for some youth depending on their age and functioning level. Help the group of youth to create a process to involve all present. Selecting a Name for a 4-H Follow these basic decision-making steps to help club members learn about their first group decision:
STEP 1: Identify the Problem: Selecting a 4-H Club name that is nondiscriminatory. Using the above examples, help younger members understand the criteria.
STEP 2. Brainstorm Solutions: Think of many possible names. Let the members be creative in the way they generate or solicit club name possibilities. If the group is small, it might use simple brainstorming methods. If the group is large, the group might create a ballot name box where youth and parents make suggestions, a committee reviews, tallies, and makes a list to have membership vote. Whatever works best to involve all members.
STEP 3. Think Through Each Solution: Consider whether the names suggested meet the criteria. Again, depending upon the size of the group this may be done by total club membership or small committee at first.
STEP 4. Select the Most Appropriate Solution: 4-H members should reach a consensus or use a vote by majority rule to make their decision. If this isn’t practical, especially if the club is large, the club can simply accept or vote on a committee’s recommendations.
You can do this!
Most inappropriate choices become obvious. Just beware of the not so obvious possibilities! Therefore, when selecting a club name, think about it carefully, be creative, and use a little common sense. Definitely try and avoid names used by other clubs that you know of. When you are unsure, contact us for “approval” or suggestions.
Choosing a club name is the first step to getting youth excited about their future as a 4-Her. You can make sure the experience is exciting by ensuring that everyone is involved. If you go that route, your members will want to stick around to see what else that they can be a part of.