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4-H Volunteer Quick Reference Guide

Filed Under:
Publication Number: P1456
View as PDF: P1456.pdf

Symbols of 4-H

What Is 4-H?

4-H is an informal, practical, learn-by-doing educational program for rural and urban young people ages 5 to 19 from all racial, cultural, economic, and social backgrounds. 4-H is an educational program for young people supported by Mississippi State University Extension. It is a family-community effort supplementing and complementing Mississippi State Extension’s mission. 4-H is—

  • an informal educational program,
  • community-based and locally determined,
  • primarily group-focused and family-oriented,
  • volunteer-operated, and
  • coordinated by professional Extension faculty.


4-H members do not have to pay a membership fee and are not required to wear uniforms.



The 4-H emblem is a four-leaf clover with an “H” on each leaf. The letters in the emblem stand for Head, Heart, Hands, and Health—the foundation of all 4-H programs.



I pledge:

My Head to clearer thinking

My Heart to greater loyalty

My Hands to larger service

My Health to better living for my club, my community, my country,

and my world.



I believe in 4-H club work for the opportunity it gives me to become a useful citizen.

I believe in the training of my Head for the power it will give me to think, plan, and reason.

I believe in the training of my Heart for the nobleness it will give me to be kind, sympathetic, and true.

I believe in the training of my Hands for the ability it will give me to be helpful, skillful, and useful.

I believe in the training of my Health for the strength it will give me to enjoy life, resist disease, and work efficiently.

I believe in my country, my state, my community, and in my responsibility for their development.

In all these things I believe, and I am willing to dedicate my efforts to their fulfillment.



Learn by doing.



“To make the best better” was suggested by Carrie Harrison of USDA and adopted by a committee of state and national leaders in 1912.



Green—nature’s most common color, symbolizes springtime, life, and youth.

White—symbolizes purity and high ideals.


Working with Boys and Girls

Basic Needs of Boys and Girls

Belonging—Being accepted by others promotes a sense of security.

Independence—Young people want to stand alone, yet they need the reassurance of a helping hand close by. Generally, the younger the individual, the more need for a helping hand.

New Experiences—Provide new challenges and growing opportunities.

Affection and Recognition—Approval through recognition and attention serves as encouragement.

Achievement and Success—Setting goals and progressing toward them can bring a feeling of success.


History of 4-H

4-H grew out of the progressive education movement of the late 1800s and early 1900s in America. Rural school principals and superintendents were interested in applying practical concepts to the reading, writing, and arithmetic they were trying to teach rural students, who knew little about the urban settings in much of the material they were studying.

At this same time, the agricultural colleges and experiment stations were accumulating a body of scientific knowledge that would improve the farmer’s productivity and living standards. Unfortunately, farmers showed little interest in adopting the “book farming” methods of the college professors. These professors began to consider the possibilities of indirectly reaching the farmers by teaching the farmers’ children improved agricultural methods.

The rural school principals and superintendents teamed with the agricultural college researchers to form corn clubs in most of the eastern and southern states. W.H. “Corn Club” Smith formed the first corn club in Mississippi in 1907. Professor Perkins from Mississippi A&M College provided seed corn of an approved variety. Dr. Seaman Knapp, head of the Farmers Cooperative Demonstration work of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, learned from one of his agents of Smith’s work and extended to him for the next year a franking privilege (sending mail at no expense) and a salary of $1 per year. This was the first time the USDA had been involved in a youth program, and it established a three-way partnership of county, state, and federal governments working together.

This pattern would develop later as Congress passed the Smith-Lever Act in 1914, forming the Cooperative Extension Service as a partnership between the federal government through USDA, the state government through the land-grant university, and the local government through the county boards of supervisors. While other states had corn clubs before Mississippi, none had the federal partner in corn club work before Mississippi. This is the basis of Mississippi’s claim to be the birthplace of 4-H.

Corn clubs expanded into cotton clubs and finally into tomato clubs for girls. The first pig club in the country was in Starkville, Mississippi. The champion pig that year was shown by Nannie Sikes, thus beginning a tradition in 4-H of girls beating boys at their own projects.

The four-leaf clover emblem developed as a trademark for products grown by boys and girls participating in the various project clubs. The original clubs were not very well organized. A few years later the term “4-H Club” came into being, and club standards were developed that included meetings, officers, and a program of work.

The corn club movement, therefore, developed into the present 4-H movement. School superintendents hoped that boys would learn to read better by reading bulletins to learn how to grow better corn. They expected that arithmetic skills would be sharpened as the boys measured and weighed their yields. Finally, writing skills would be improved with the completion of a written report on the project.

The agricultural college professors wanted farmers to learn better farming methods as they saw their children apply them with good results. All these things happened, but they also laid the foundation for the formation of the nation’s largest youth program—4-H.


4-H Volunteer Leaders

Why Be a Volunteer Leader?

You are wanted and needed as a 4-H volunteer. As a volunteer leader, you will see yourself and others grow, and you will be rewarded in many ways:

  • Volunteers can develop knowledge and skills in the areas of child and adolescent development, organizational planning, and personal and group management.
  • Volunteers can develop attitudes of helpfulness to others through community service.
  • Volunteers can watch the development of 4-H members.
  • Volunteers know they have given help to others and to their own families.
  • Volunteers get to meet new people and work with outstanding 4-H members and adults.
  • Volunteers can gain personal satisfaction and meet some of their own needs through helping others.
  • Volunteer 4-H leaders are entitled to certain tax deductions. Generally, out-of-pocket expenses, such as amounts sent for fees, materials, meals, travel, lodging, awards, and a mileage fee for use of a privately owned vehicle are deductible as contributions. The same type of expenses incurred when attending 4-H leadership training are also deductible. Keep an accurate record of your out-of-pocket expenses, and consult with a qualified tax person.


Why Are Volunteers Needed?

  • Volunteers are needed to make 4-H available to more young people.
  • Your children or your neighbor’s children can have fun while they learn important skills necessary for being successful today as well as when they are adults.
  • Volunteers bring their own skills to the 4-H learning experience for members.


What Do Club Volunteers Do?

There are several jobs for 4-H volunteers:

  • 4-H club organizational leader
  • Project leader
  • Activity leader
  • Teen leader
  • Resource/support volunteer


Organizational Leader Responsibilities

  • Recruit and work with activity leaders and project leaders.
  • Serve as liaison between your club members and the county Extension office.
  • Recruit members by visiting potential members and their parents.
  • Secure a comfortable and convenient meeting time and place.
  • Organize the club and help the group:
    • decide what the group will do,
    • enroll in projects,
    • select a name for the club, and
    • elect officers.
  • Secure project materials for club members from the county Extension office.
  • Secure Publication 990 4-H Officer’s Handbook for the club officers.
  • Hold conferences with the club officers to prepare them to conduct club meetings.
  • Contact parents regularly and show them how to help 4-H’ers with project work at home.
  • Recruit parents to help with certain programs.
  • Attend 4-H club meetings.
  • Make reports of meetings to the Extension agent.
  • Attend meetings and workshops designed to help you.


Project Leader Responsibilities

  • Coordinate work with 4-H club organizational leader.
  • Coordinate work with county project leaders.
  • Help members select projects.
  • Help members locate resources for project work.
  • Help get project materials.
  • Plan and conduct small project work meetings.
  • Visit members’ homes to advise on projects as needed.
  • Participate in project workshops provided in the county.
  • Recruit and train 4-H junior leaders.
  • Plan and conduct project tours with 4-H members.
  • Promote 4-H in the community.
  • Keep up-to-date on project resources and opportunities.
  • Conduct project contests.
  • Help members with record-keeping.


Activity Leader Responsibilities

  • Coordinate work with 4-H club orgonizational leader.
  • Coordinate work with project leaders.
  • Select the activities you will help with.
  • Work with teen leaders responsible for an activity.
  • Help members identify and get needed resources.
  • Assist with training members to perform special activity roles such as exhibit chair, etc.
  • Secure sponsors for activities and community service projects.
  • Arrange for transportation to activities.
  • Recruit other activity leaders.
  • Plan for and encourage parent participation in activities.
  • Evaluate with the members each activity when it is completed, and note suggestions for improvements.
  • Promote 4-H.


Volunteer’s Responsibilities to Extension Agent

  • Turn in regular 4-H club meeting reports and members’ enrollment information.
  • Keep agent informed of club activities.
  • Support countywide activities.
  • Try to observe the agent’s office hours.
  • Be flexible.
  • Attend leader training meetings.
  • Make any request for information and material well in advance of program.
  • Share resources.
  • Show fairness during competition between your 4-H members and other clubs’ 4-H members.
  • Avoid creating jealousy and unnecessary competition between 4-H clubs and members.
  • Let the Extension agent know your needs for training.


Extension Agent’s Responsibilities to Volunteers

  • Explain volunteer role.
  • Identify training needed by volunteer.
  • Plan and coordinate training sessions to include workshops and other group meetings.
  • Provide 4-H project materials for 4-H’ers.
  • Provide 4-H club meeting ideas.
  • Involve volunteers in planning and conducting county 4-H contests.
  • Keep volunteers informed of 4-H programs and activities at local, county, district, state, and national levels.
  • Keep communication lines open.
  • Provide appropriate recognition.


Awards, Incentives, and Recognitions for Volunteers


  • Regional 4-H Volunteer Forum
  • Leader Forums
  • State 4-H Leader Conference
  • County and local meetings coordinated by Extension agent



It is important that 4-H volunteers be recognized for service. This recognition should be for significant accomplishments. Both formal and informal recognition can be used. Recognition should be a part of the total club program. If you serve as a 4-H club organizational leader, consider providing recognition for each volunteer and/or parent for his or her help.

  • Outstanding Volunteer Leader of the Year Award
  • Governor’s Office of Volunteer Citizens
  • Pins and certificates for years of service
  • President’s Volunteer Action Awards Program conducted in your county
  • Salute to Excellence Award


Club Recognition Program

It is appropriate for a club to hold a 4-H Club Recognition Program. All club members, parents, donors, and community leaders should be invited. Awards may be won by submitting Form 636 4-H Club Secretary’s Record. Recognition for clubs is available by planning and conducting programs in the State 4-H Banner Club Program.


Membership Opportunities

  • State 4-H Volunteer Association
  • Governor’s Office of Volunteer Citizens
  • County 4-H Volunteer Association
  • Tax break for volunteers
  • County 4-H News


4-H Clubs


The 4-H club is one of the major methods of involving boys and girls in the 4-H program. It serves as the hub of activity that generates enthusiasm for participation in 4-H activities outside the local club.

The 4-H club meeting is an important learning experience. Participation in planning and carrying out the club’s program will help members do the following:

  • Learn to make decisions.
  • Develop group-discussion skills.
  • Try new ideas and methods.
  • Develop citizenship and leadership skills.
  • Acquire new knowledge and skills.
  • Develop confidence.
  • Gain a sense of group pride.
  • Form a cooperative attitude.



General 4-H clubs—A continuing group with elected officers, volunteer leaders, and planned programs 9 to 12 months of the year. Club members may enroll in different projects. Clubs may be organized on a county, school, or community level. School clubs meet during school hours. Clubs that meet on school grounds before and after school are considered community clubs.

Project 4-H clubs—Clubs in which members work and study in one particular project.


Short-Term Programs

  • 4-H special interest/short-term programs—Subject matter training programs directed by Extension one time or in a short series.
  • 4-H school enrichment programs—Offered by agents, program assistants, or volunteers, which serve as supplements to the regular school curriculum.
  • School-aged educational programs—Educational programs offered to youth outside of school hours, usually in a school or community center and incorporating 4-H curricula.
  • 4-H individual study—Reserved for 4-H members who are not attached to any particular 4-H club or group.
  • 4-H instructional video series—An organized instructional program delivered by video.
  • Overnight camping programs—Extension-planned outdoor educational experiences for groups. These include being away from home at least 1 night (resident, primitive, or travel camping) and are not restricted to members of organized 4-H clubs.



  • Out of school—These clubs usually meet in homes, churches, community buildings, or school buildings (after school hours).
  • In school—These clubs meet as part of the school curriculum, usually during an activity period.


4-H Club Year and Age Requirements

In Mississippi, the 4-H club enrollment reporting year is October 1 through September 30. A club may organize anytime during the year. However, records for 4-H members and volunteers cover the period from July 1 through June 30.

In Mississippi, there are three age levels in which youth can participate in the 4-H program:



Cloverleaf—8 and 9






Organization and Leadership

  • The club has at least one adult volunteer who serves as the club organization leader.
  • Members plan the club program, using Publication 2320 Planning with a Group—A Guide for Leaders as a guide.
  • A copy of Form 467 4-H Club Program Plan is filed in the county office.
  • Officers or committee chairs are elected to give members leadership responsibilities.
  • The club has one project leader, one activity leader, and one teen leader.
  • The club has participating representative(s) on the county 4-H council.
  • The club has at least 5 members.
  • The club has obtained a Club Charter.



  • The club has at least one meeting per month for at least 9 months of the year.
  • Every member should have a part on the program at least twice during the year.
  • A record of the club’s meetings and activities should be kept in the 4-H Club Secretary’s Record (Extension Form 636).
  • A report of each meeting is filed with the Extension agent.
  • Parents should be invited to attend at least one meeting.
  • A 4-H club recognition dinner, banquet, or special program should be held within the year.


Project Work and Service

  • Each member is enrolled in at least one 4-H project.
  • The club has some representatives participating in the county 4-H contests.
  • The club has at least one exhibit day, and each member makes an exhibit.
  • The club has at least one tour.
  • The club has at least one community service project.



The 4-H club organizational leader (or representative) participates in at least 75 percent of group training meetings provided by the Extension agent.

Application for Club Charter

A 4-H club charter may be issued to a 4-H club soon after the club is first organized. It identifies the group as eligible to use the name and emblem of 4-H and to participate in official 4-H activities and educational programs.

To receive a charter, submit Extension Form 772 Application for 4-H Club Charter to your Extension agent. The Extension agent will forward the application to the associate director for 4-H for approval. The associate director for 4-H will issue the charter. Presentation of the 4-H club charter may be made during some formal occasion, such as at a county 4-H club council meeting or at the next meeting of the 4-H club.


Leading the 4-H Club

How do you start a new club? Here are some suggestions on organizing a club that you can adapt to your own situation.


Necessary Ingredients

  • One club organization leader and as many adults and/or teen leaders as needed to serve as project and activity leaders.
  • Five or more young people who want to have a 4-H club.
  • The support of parents.



  • Learn all you can about 4-H. Take advantage of all leader training programs offered in your county.
  • Study 4-H volunteer materials and talk to other volunteers.
  • Discuss your concerns with your county Extension agent.
  • Call a meeting of the boys and girls who want to start a 4-H club and invite parents and other interested adults and teens to be present. Discuss what they can do to help with a 4-H club.


Ideas for a Successful Club

  • A club with about 10 to 15 members provides the best opportunity for good meetings.
  • Meet in members’ homes several times during the year.
  • Hold meetings in the evenings or after school.
  • Use most of the meeting time for work connected with projects, but make the business and recreation parts important, too. See that every member has a chance to participate in something, if only singing or games.
  • Have a variety of activities, both in club meetings and apart from club meetings.
  • Club officers and committees should function actively.
  • Start giving responsibility to first-year club members.
  • Provide opportunities for members and leaders to help plan the program and activities.
  • During business meetings, members should have the chance to discuss and make decisions about local events, activities, participating in outside events, and their own problems of membership, re-enrollment, and project completions.
  • Year-round meetings are recommended.
  • Include recreation in all meetings, even if only for a brief time, to add relaxation, variety, participation, and fun to the meeting. Recreation helps members get better acquainted, feel better about themselves and others, and develop a cooperative spirit.


Recreation Ideas

  • Mixers
  • Songs
  • Active games
  • Brain teasers
  • Skits and stunts
  • Circle games
  • Quiet games
  • Special seasonal parties (swim or ski activities)
  • Folk games and dances
  • Overnight camps
  • Trail hikes
  • Bike rides
  • Softball
  • Bowling


Program Ideas

  • Project tours—plan a tour of members’ homes to see their projects.
  • Conduct a parents’ appreciation night.
  • Have a club exhibit day and invite people in the community.
  • Have a project work day. Assign 4-H’ers to work in groups at club members’ homes.
  • Let 4-H members conduct project interviews and report to the club.
  • Let 4-H’ers conduct a cafeteria-style workshop day on their projects and invite parents and other interested people to attend.
  • Prepare a club newsletter written by 4-H members.
  • Plan a club family Thanksgiving meal.
  • Use speakers as resources.


Seasonal Program Ideas

Any time of the year is a good time to have projects in energy, safety, health, environment, citizenship, or leadership!


Spring—March, April, May

Arbor Day program

Kite flying

Mother’s Day activity

Easter egg hunt

Spring clean-up

Crafts fair or hobby show

Museum visit

St. Patrick’s program


Nature hike

April Fool’s party

Exchange meeting with another club

Sports event day

4-H leaders’ recognition banquet


Summer—June, July, August

Father’s Day activity

4th of July picnic


Trip to state or local parks

Car wash


Scavenger hunt

Bike rides

Tour of business or industry, radio, or TV station


Fall—September, October, November


Halloween party

Collect food and clothing for needy families

4-H advisers’ recognition banquet

Visit a court in session

Recruit new members

4-H club award and achievement program

4-H exhibit (invite parents and people in community)

Make a store window display for National 4-H Week


Winter—December, January, February

Feed birds

Valentine party

Progressive dinner

Christmas caroling

Make Christmas gifts

Visit public library

Make tray decorations for hospitals and nursing homes

Adopt a grandparent

Visit the elderly


Planning the Annual 4-H Club Program

The program should be based on the needs and interests of the boys and girls. They will have many ideas of things to do. Your job will be to guide them in making their plans. Group discussion followed by giving the 4-H’ers’ ideas to a planning committee is one way of getting all members involved.


Supplies Needed

  • Information Sheet 701 Design Your Own Clover.
  • Form 467 4-H Club Program Plan.
  • Flipchart or poster and magic marker.
  • The yearly plan of work should include programs for your monthly club meetings, projects for the club members, and special activities for the club.


Design Your Own Clover

Use Information Sheet 701 Design Your Own Clover for planning the annual program. Under the heading of the four petals of the clover, let 4-H’ers write things they would like to learn, ways they could help in the community, their hobbies, and what they would like to do for fun. Collect the ideas from each member’s clover.

Summarize by writing the ideas on a chalkboard, poster, or flipchart under the four headings: Learn, Fun, Community Service, and Hobbies.

Before you do anything else, help the group make these decisions:

  • How many meetings to plan for “learning”
  • How many meetings to plan for “fun”
  • How many community service projects to conduct
  • How to share hobbies


Let the group select items to go in the program plan. Select months, dates, and times plans should be carried out. Record these on Form 467 4-H Club Program Plan. List the person (junior leader) responsible for the program or activity, and list dates of special county, district, and state events.


Checklist for a Good Club Program Plan

  • Did the members of the group make the plan?
  • Is each part planned with a specific purpose in mind?
  • Does the plan have variety?
  • Does the plan show who is responsible?
  • Have parents been included?
  • Does the plan show when the program will be?
  • Do all members have a copy?
  • Does the Extension agent have a copy?
  • Is there a plan for evaluation?
  • Provide Publication 1960 This Is 4-H
  • Provide Publication 1277 4-H Member’s Handbook and M683 4-H Club Program Booklet.
sample of the 4-H Club Program Plan
Give a copy of your plan to: 4-H youth agent, each 4-H club member, parents, and club sponsors.

Suggested Meetings for New Clubs

The first four meetings should be scheduled within a 4-week period, one meeting per week until your club is completely organized.


The First Meeting

Invite prospective 4-H members and parents.

Discuss requirements for 4-H members (there are only suggestions):

  • Teach the 4-H pledge, motto, slogan, and colors to members.
  • Have prospective 4-H’ers fill out 4-H enrollment cards.
  • Select one or more projects; write goals.
  • Involve parents in project selection.


Discuss requirements for parents.

  • Assist and encourage the completion of goals.
  • Arrange for 4-H’er to attend meetings and activities.
  • Agree to sponsor refreshments and plan recreation for one or more meetings.
  • Help with three or more activities.
  • Serve refreshments.

The Second Meeting

Members of the leadership team should conduct this meeting using the sample agenda in Form 636 4-H Club Secretary’s Record (page 7).

  • Decide on a name for the new club.
  • Decide on a regular meeting date, time, and place.
  • Have a member of an existing club give a demonstration or visual presentation.
  • Explain duties of officers.
  • Elect and install officers.
  • Conduct recreation.
  • Serve refreshments.


The Third Meeting

Members of the leadership team will conduct this club planning meeting. Use Information Sheet 701 Design Your Own Clover and Form 467 4-H Club Program Plan.

Suggested ideas:

  • Plan two or more service projects.
  • Plan for project work.
  • Plan for activities.
  • Plan for parents’ night.
  • Plan for exhibit days, contests, and other county activities.
  • Make plans for club publicity.
  • The program should consist of a variety of learning methods (tours, exhibits, speeches, learn-by-doing activities, contests, home visits, visual presentations).
  • Have recreation and refreshments.


The Fourth Meeting

  • Write project goals.
  • Divide the club into small groups and let project leaders work with 4-H’ers individually.
  • Select dates when project goals should be completed.
  • Encourage 4-H’ers to keep a scrapbook and a record of all project work done at home, of club meetings, and of special project activities.
  • Have recreation and refreshments.


Other Meetings

Follow the program that was planned at the third meeting. Changes should be made in the club program as needed throughout the year. The agenda should consist of a business meeting, program, and recreation.


Suggested Meetings for Established Clubs

A successful 4-H meeting is the result of planning. Good meetings do not just happen—they are planned. The time and thought given to advance preparation will result in better club meetings, increased participation, and enthusiastic members.


The First Meeting

  • Invite old members, new members, and parents to a reorganization meeting.
  • Enroll members.
  • Discuss requirements for 4-H’ers and parents.
  • Refer to suggestions under the first meeting of new clubs section (previous page).
  • Elect and install officers.
  • Have recreation and refreshments.


The Second Meeting

  • Plan the annual program.
  • Let 4-H members write their project goals for the year.
  • Refer to Publication 1421 4-H Member’s Project Goals and Publication 1425 4-H Member’s Guide to Project Work.
  • Have recreation and refreshments.


Other Meetings

  • Follow the annual planned program.
  • Make necessary changes throughout the year.
  • The agenda should consist of a business meeting, program, and recreation.


Teaching Methods

As a 4-H volunteer, you are concerned with teaching 4-H club members. You want them to develop new and improved practices, habits, skills, interests, attitudes, and values. You may use many teaching methods to do an effective job. Perhaps you are familiar with some or all of the methods 4-H uses—visual presentations, 4-H tours, workshops, judging, exhibits, discussions, and home visits. Teach 4-H members to use these methods to add interest to the programs they conduct.


Visual Presentations

A visual presentation may be a demonstration or an illustrated talk. Volunteers and members use visual aids such as posters, charts, flash cards, models, photographs, or actual objects to help members learn. For more information see Publication 1096 How to Do a Visual Presentation.



4-H tours are popular. A club tour can stimulate interest for projects among members and parents. You may hold a general club tour, in which all members and their projects are visited. A project tour may involve only the members enrolled in the project. On special tours, club members can visit places related to their project work or to career opportunities.



Workshops and work sessions show 4-H’ers how to do a job, and then they perform and practice the same job under supervision.



Judging activities can help 4-H’ers learn to make wise choices based on reasoning. Your 4-H club meeting is a good place to practice judging. You are judging when you say, “I like this dress,” or “This calf is better than that one,” or “These biscuits taste good.” Judging means comparing one article or product with another against a standard. When you select items to be judged, remember:

  • What is the standard for good work?
  • Do the products to be compared show variety in their quality?
  • What is the best placement of the products?
  • What are the reasons for placing the products in this way?



Some exhibits may be planned for display only. Others may be planned for awards. Exhibits will do the following:

  • Show other 4-H members and the public the results of project work.
  • Give the member an opportunity to evaluate results of the project and become aware of other projects.
  • Provide an incentive for project completion.
  • Teach standards of good project work.


When selecting a discussion topic, choose a topic on which opinions differ. Be sure the topic is clearly stated and related to members’ experiences. Keep the discussion group small, with members facing each other. Guide discussion leaders to keep their attention focused on the topic and to suggest questions that invite others to express themselves. Allow time for summarizing your discussion.


Home Visit

Home visits will help you get to know parents or guardians and their 4-H’ers.


Educational Booth or Display

A booth or display should illustrate a message so clearly that people passing by can understand at a glance. An exhibit can be as simple as a poster series in a store window or as elaborate as a multimedia show in a booth at the fair. An exhibit should do the following:

  • Attract attention.
  • Summarize a single idea.
  • Tell the interested viewer where to get more detailed information.
  • Present a good image of 4-H.


To plan your exhibit, consider these four important questions:

  • What do I want to say?
  • To whom am I talking?
  • Why am I doing this?
  • Who can help me?


4-H Club Officers

Successful club meetings depend on leadership from good club officers. In addition to regular club officers listed, each club may have representatives on the county council, as set forth by the council’s constitution.


Officer Duties

President—Presides at all meetings. Appoints committees as needed.

Vice President—Serves in absence of president. May serve as program chair for meetings.

Secretary—Keeps complete and accurate minutes of all meetings. Handles correspondence.

Treasurer—Takes care of all group funds. Collects dues when required by the club. Keeps the treasurer’s record book up-to-date.

Reporter—Writes interesting reports of meetings and special club events for local newspapers, radio, and television.

Recreation Leader—Assumes leadership for recreation at meetings and special parties. May appoint a committee to serve at each meeting.

Song Leader—Plans and leads songs for club meetings. May appoint other club members to help. Assists with musical numbers in special programs.

Historian—Collects news items concerning the club. Takes pictures at meetings. Arranges news clippings and pictures in a scrapbook.

Committees—Committees share the responsibilities of leadership and get everyone actively involved. You may have standing committees or special committees.

Parliamentarian—Keeps records of all parliamentary rules and regulations. Appointed by the president/chairperson. Serves as an adviser to the president/chairperson.

References—Publication 990 4-H Officer’s Handbook lists duties of all officers and committees and includes suggested business meeting agendas and parliamentary procedures. Each officer and committee chair should have a copy of Publication 990.


4-H Ceremonies

Ceremonies are used to portray the meaning of 4-H. Through ceremonies, the ideas and symbols of 4-H are explained with dignity and beauty. Well-planned ceremonies produce a closer bond of understanding among 4-H’ers within local clubs, across the nation, and throughout the world.


The Initiation Ceremony

The setting is simple. The officers stand behind a table that holds an American flag and a 4-H flag. The guide begins the ceremony by leading the candidates to the front of the room to stand before the officers:


PRESIDENT: To you who are about to become members of 4-H, we, as active members of (club name), sharing responsibilities in carrying out our 4-H program, wish to inquire as to your earnestness in becoming a 4-H member. Have you selected a 4-H project and returned a 4-H enrollment card?




VICE PRESIDENT: Before becoming a 4-H member, you should become acquainted with the organization and purpose of 4-H. In Mississippi, the 4-H Youth Development Program is administered by the Mississippi State University Extension Service.


TREASURER (exhibiting a 4-H emblem): Our 4-H emblem is a green four-leaf clover with a white “H” on each leaf, representing the development of the Head, Heart, Hands, and Health. Our 4-H motto is “To make the best better.” Our 4-H creed is “I believe in 4-H for the opportunity it gives me to become a useful citizen. I believe in the training of my HEAD for the power it gives me to think, to plan, and to reason. I believe in the training of my HEART for the nobleness it gives me to be kind, sympathetic, and true. I believe in the training of my HANDS for the ability it gives me to be helpful, useful, and skillful. I believe in the training of my HEALTH for the strength it gives me to enjoy life, to resist disease, and to work efficiently. I believe in my country, my state, my community, and my world, and in my responsibility for their development. In all these things I believe, and I am willing to pledge my efforts to their fulfillment.


REPORTER: 4-H would like to point out that you are now joining a large national youth program. There are programs similar to ours throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and more than 80 foreign countries.


PRESIDENT: You are now familiar with the purposes of 4-H, the 4-H emblem and what it symbolizes, the 4-H motto, and the 4-H creed. Are you willing to try to live up to these ideals of 4-H?




PRESIDENT: In becoming a member of our 4-H club, you are expected to attend our meetings regularly, take an active part in our program, complete your project, learn the 4-H pledge and motto, keep your family informed of the club’s activities, and help other members of our club. As you sign the 4-H membership roll, please think of the duties you are accepting. (Candidates sign the secretary’s book.)


PRESIDENT: Please repeat the 4-H pledge after me.

I pledge—

My Head to clearer thinking, (repeats)

My Heart to greater loyalty, (repeats)

My Hands to larger service, (repeats)

My Health to better living, for my club, my community, my country, and my world. (repeats)


PRESIDENT: You are now a member of (name of club) 4-H Club. We welcome you.


SONG OR RECREATION LEADER: Let us join in singing (4-H club song or patriotic song).


The Installation Ceremony

This ceremony may be used to install officers of local clubs. Both the retiring and the newly elected president, vice president, secretary, treasurer (or secretary-treasurer), and reporter will participate in this ceremony, along with the local leader or Extension agent.

A small table with five tall candles, the secretary-treasurer’s books, and a gavel should be set up for the ceremony. Candles on the table are unlighted and are arranged with one near each corner, representing each of the four “Hs,” and one in the center to represent the club spirit. New officers should be instructed where to stand, how to cross over, and when to light the candles.

The leader stands at the back of the table with the present officers at the right side of the table and the new officers across on the left side of the table. As the leader reads the parts, the retiring officers meet the new officers in the center of the room and present them with the various official records of the organization. They then exchange places. After receiving the presentation and thanking the retiring officer (a simple thank-you is all that is necessary), the new officer crosses over to the right side of the table and assumes the old officer’s position.

As the ceremony begins, the retiring president meets the new president, and they exchange places as the leader reads.


LEADER: As presiding officer for (name of club), you will preside at meetings and will be ready at any time to give your services for the welfare of the club. You must protect its good name and strive to further its purposes and policies. This gavel is given to you as the property of (name of club) to aid you in your duties.


(The retiring vice president crosses the room and exchanges places with the new officer as the leader continues.)


LEADER: As vice president, you will familiarize yourself with the duties of the presidential office and will be ready to serve in that capacity at any time in the absence of the president. You will often serve as the chair of standing committees. You will strive in every way to aid in upholding the dignity of your organization.

(If the club has a secretary-treasurer, use the paragraph marked *. If the club has both officers, use the paragraph marked **.)

(*The retiring secretary-treasurer crosses the room and exchanges places with the new secretary-treasurer as the leader reads.)


LEADER: As secretary-treasurer, you will keep the membership roll and a complete record of what takes place at each meeting. You will, likewise, be entrusted with all monies of the (name of club) and will keep an accurate record of all receipts and expenditures. Your club will depend on you to have in complete form all important data whenever it is needed. Into your hands and keeping is now placed the secretary-treasurer’s book for the (name of club).

(**The retiring secretary crosses the room and exchanges places with the new officer as the leader continues to read.)


LEADER: As secretary, you will keep the membership roll and a complete record of what takes place at each meeting. You will make reports and write official documents pertaining to the functions of your club. Your club will depend on you to have valuable and important data in accurate, concrete form whenever it is needed. Into your hands and keeping will now be placed the secretary’s book for the (name of club).


(**Retiring treasurer crosses the room, exchanging places with the new treasurer as the leader reads.)


LEADER: As treasurer, you will be entrusted with money for the (name of club), to keep accurate record of all receipts and expenditures. You will be expected to furnish detailed and complete information concerning the financial status of your club whenever it is needed. This is the treasurer’s book for the (name of club) to be placed in your hands to aid in recording the business transactions of your club.

(The retiring reporter crosses the room and exchanges places with the new reporter as the leader reads.)


LEADER: As reporter of (name of club), you will keep people outside your club informed of the activities and progress of your club. You will cooperate with local newspapers, giving them an accurate account of your club meetings and special events. You will study newspaper style of writing so as to set forth information in a readable form. This pen is given to you as the insignia of your office and a reminder of your duty.

(At this point, the leader or Extension agent is standing at the back of the table, between the two lines of officers.)


LEADER: As club officers, you have been chosen to guide and direct the (name of club). I know that you will live up to the trust that has been placed in you. You will be largely responsible for the club spirit of your organization, for its progress and faithfulness to the principles and ideals of 4-H. Members (turning to club group), it is your responsibility to assist and aid, in every way possible, the officers you have chosen for your club. You will stand and repeat the 4-H Pledge. I will light the candle representing the club spirit (light it). From this candle, our newly elected officers will light the candles representing Head, Heart, Hands, and Health. (Officers are instructed regarding this beforehand.)


“I pledge my head to clearer thinking,” (leader hands lighted candle representing club spirit to the president, who uses it to light the candle nearest him/her), “my heart to greater loyalty,” (vice president lights second candle with leader’s lighted one), “my hands to larger service,” (secretary-treasurer or both light third candle), “and my health to better living,” (reporter lights fourth candle), “for my club, my community, my country, and my world.”


Soft music may be played during the pledge. At the close, it would be fitting to have someone sing any of the 4-H songs—“Dreaming,” “Plowing,” “Four-Leaf Clover Song,” or another choice. Officers remain standing during singing. At the close, they walk off the stage in single file, new officers preceding the old, while the leader extinguishes the candles. Two other members remove the table.

Note: You may reproduce part or all of this text for your club.


Involving Parents

Why Are Parents Needed?

When interested parents participate in 4-H, the members benefit from their support and encouragement. When the parents know about 4-H and the activities and events available to the members, they can help their children participate. Informed parents can help members attend club meetings and workshops, keep records, and prepare for leadership roles in the club program.

Parents themselves are a valuable resource to 4-H. When parents have the opportunity to share their interests and talents with 4-H members in club work, both will benefit.


How Should the Volunteer Involve Parents?

Keep parents informed about 4-H. Be sure they know the following:

  • What 4-H is and the opportunities it offers.
  • What is expected of their child.
  • The names of the 4-H volunteers and their responsibilities.
  • The financial cost to members and parents.
  • The time, place, and topic of the 4-H meetings.


They can contribute in the following ways:

Offering their kitchen, backyard, living room, or garage for a meeting place.

Providing light refreshments.

Organizing a carpool for transportation to and from meetings.

Serving as chaperone and/or transportation for a tour, picnic, contest, clinic, or other events.

Helping notify parents for last-minute announcements.

Encouraging 4-H’ers to begin and complete projects on time.

Encouraging 4-H’ers to complete exhibits and visual presentations on time.

Encouraging 4-H’ers to attend all meetings.


It is important that parents feel involved from the beginning. Enroll the parents when you enroll the member. Hold a special meeting for parents at the beginning of the year to get acquainted and to explain 4-H. Ask parents to do specific tasks.


How Can Parents Be Recognized?

We all like to know our efforts are appreciated. Parents are no different. Recognize their efforts and encourage members to say “thank you” for their help. Write personal notes of thanks for specific jobs. Recognize the help of parents by including their names and, whenever possible, pictures in newspaper reports and newsletters.

The club may hold a Parent Appreciation Night, which could include exhibits and refreshments or a meal prepared by the members. The program could include talent by members and recognition of the parents. Present certificates or 4-H “favors” in appreciation of parents’ help. Note: Be mindful that if parents engage/interact with other members, they must be background-approved Certified Volunteers.


4-H Projects

By “project,” we mean work done with animals or crops, articles made, or some other definite enterprise undertaken by 4-H’ers.

The project should be one that fits well into the home and community. It should be practical and provide some income, savings, or satisfaction to the 4-H’er. The 4-H agent will provide a list of projects available in your county and literature available to members and leaders. Projects not listed on the enrollment card may be selected as a special club project if there is enough interest. Because most 4-H activities center around the project, it is a very valuable part of 4-H.


What Is the Purpose of a Project?

  • Helps 4-H members grow.
  • Helps develop life skills.
  • Helps 4-H’ers make wise decisions.
  • Helps 4-H’ers learn to work with others.
  • Encourages 4-H’ers to set and reach goals.
  • Teaches latest scientific methods.
  • Helps 4-H’ers learn responsibility.

How Is a Project Selected?

  • 4-H’ers should use these guidelines to select a project:
  • Select a project that he or she likes.
  • Select a project that can be completed.
  • Know how much space and equipment are needed.
  • Determine if parents can help.
  • Know the opportunities for growth.


How Many Projects Should a 4-H’er Select?

  • Enroll only in the number of projects that can be completed.
  • Select one project as a main project.
  • Two or three projects that really interest the 4-H’er are better than too many.
  • Additional projects can always be added later.


Mississippi 4-H Projects


  • Beef
  • Cats
  • Dairy
  • Dogs
  • Goats
  • Horses
  • Meat Science
  • Pet Care
  • Poultry
  • Rabbits
  • Sheep
  • Swine
  • Veterinary Science

Natural Resources

  • Conservation
  • Entomology
  • Forestry
  • Hunter Education
  • Marine Science
  • Shooting Sports
  • Sport Fishing
  • Wildlife
  • Wood Science

Family and Consumer Education

  • Breads
  • Child Development
  • Clothing
  • Consumer Education
  • Dairy Foods
  • Food Nutrition
  • Food Preservation
  • Home Environment

Personal Development

  • Career Exploration
  • Citizenship
  • Health
  • Leadership
  • Modeling
  • Personal Development
  • Expressive Arts

Plant Sciences

  • Field Crops
  • Gardening
  • Junior Master Gardener Program
  • Plant and Soil Sciences

Communications Arts and Sciences

  • Computer
  • Photography
  • Public Speaking


Project Resources

  • 4-H project book
  • Contest judging, visual presentation, records, and miscellaneous
  • Exhibits
  • Project tours
  • Project training workshops


Project Requirements

In some project books, there is a list of requirements. In other projects, the 4-H’ers should study the project books and make a list of things they want to learn and do. Listed below are some general requirements that relate to all projects:

  • Make a set of project goals (refer to Publication 1421 4-H Member’s Project Goals and Publication 1425 4-H Member’s Guide to Project Work).
  • Complete certain goals each month—most project work is done at home.
  • Keep a record of goals completed.
  • Exhibit project work.
  • Enter a contest (judging, visual presentation, or miscellaneous) at the local and county levels.
  • Attend workshops available in the community or county on your particular project.
  • Attend 4-H meetings regularly.
  • Complete a 4-H project record each year.
  • Practice leadership skills by teaching other interested people about your project.
  • Carry out citizenship deeds related to your project.
  • Continue to study and broaden project knowledge and skills.


Ways to Get Members to Do Project Work

Project work is the learn-by-doing phase of 4-H. Through project work, 4-H’ers learn life skills that are transferable to other situations. To get 4-H’ers involved in projects, try some of these ideas:

  • Plan club activities around projects (home tours, exhibits, etc.).
  • Require 4-H’ers to write goals and set dates for completion of projects. See Publication 1421 4-H Member’s Project Goals.
  • Ask members what they are doing in their projects. Call for project reports during club meetings.
  • Recruit someone (a parent, older 4-H’er, senior citizen, or someone else in the community) to serve as a project leader. Project leaders can be more directly involved in small-project group meetings.
  • Plan for task participation and group involvement.
  • Encourage members by showing interest in their progress.
  • Give incentives—ribbons, certificates, trips, and so forth for completed project work.

When Is a Project Completed?

  • When the goals set by the 4-H’ers at the beginning of the year are completed.
  • When a project report has been submitted to the leader; this may include a project record sheet, along with a story.


Project Recognition

You may recognize 4-H’ers on the club level for project completion. Form 407 4-H Certificate of Achievement is available for your use.

Recognition and Awards

Member Recognition

Recognition is a way of rewarding members for their accomplishments—large or small. Recognition takes many forms; pins, ribbons, and trips are only a few. If recognition is to be satisfactory, it should come as a result of real effort on the part of the club member.

Awards should never be an end in themselves. Awards should be used for recognition, encouragement, and inspiration in these ways:

  • Recognize achievements.
  • Encourage members to continue in 4-H.
  • Inspire interest and enthusiasm.
  • Encourage members to reach worthwhile goals in keeping with personal ability.
  • Communicate to other 4-H’ers the opportunities possible in 4-H.
  • Develop leadership and citizenship qualities of 4-H members.
  • Stimulate 4-H’ers to acquire information, skills, and understanding of improved practices about things in which they are interested.
  • Provide opportunities for 4-H’ers to demonstrate approved practices in their projects.
  • Let the public know what opportunities are possible for young people through 4-H work.


You can recognize jobs well done in many ways: a special telephone call or letter; an opportunity to preside at a meeting; an opportunity to appear on programs; the chance to help plan an activity or program; a certificate, ribbon, medal, or special trip; publicity; or a scholarship.

Appropriate recognition of all club members provides a satisfying 4-H club experience and develops boys and girls. It should be in proportion to the quality of the achievement and should never exploit individuals.

4-H club members should be concerned with their project work, club activities, helping members of their club, and sharing their experience; not with recognition and awards as their goals. The greatest rewards come from service to others and personal achievement rather than outdoing someone else.


Club Fund-Raising

IMPORTANT: The county Extension agent must approve any club fund-raising campaign.


­­Guides for Raising Funds

  • Many clubs assess their own members for dues at each meeting. If dues are required, members should clearly understand that this money is for local club use only and that Extension charges no fees for its services.
  • Encourage members to sell animals or products from their own project work.
  • Any fund-raising project should come about as a result of interest and appreciation for 4-H work, its precepts, ideals, and goals.
  • Have 4-H members serve the general community by selling products at a bazaar or festival. Some examples are apples, nuts, vegetables, flowers, plants, crafts, or dairy products.
  • Have members serve at dinners, socials, or refreshment stands at fairs and games.
  • Have amateur entertainment festivals such as community square dances, plays, skits, pageants, musicals, socials, and skating parties. Social dances may be acceptable in some communities but not in others.
  • Organize a community forest or Christmas tree plot.
  • Collect scrap iron and newspapers or other recyclable items.
  • Avoid magazine subscription campaigns.
  • Discourage lotteries or games of chance. Rather, plan 4-H fund-raising so the public or customer will receive full value. Remember, there are state and local laws and regulations prohibiting or regulating lotteries.
  • Try to avoid door-to-door canvassing. Give people something for their money or sell them on the merits of direct help with the educational program.
  • Use accepted fund-raising procedures for specific, worthy projects.
  • Never let fund-raising lower the status of 4-H. Wholesome educational purposes for funds and wise use of the funds are the most important guiding principles.
  • Keep fund-raising to a minimum.
  • Avoid fund-raising at road intersections.


Sample 4-H Club Meeting Outline

Club advisers should develop this form while planning with officers for a specific meeting. Base club meeting plan on the annual program plan.


Month_____________ Date_______________


Place______________ Time______________


Call to order by president President __________________________________

Pledge of Allegiance Led by __________________________________

4-H Pledge Led by __________________________________

Singing Led by __________________________________

*Roll call—answer by ________________ Secretary __________________________________

Reading and approval of minutes Secretary __________________________________

Reports of committees and/or project report

Standing __________________________________

Special __________________________________

Unfinished business—taken from secretary’s minutes of previous meeting

New business

Announcements by leaders and others

Project talks or panels


____________________________________________________ by ____________________________________________________


____________________________________________________ by ____________________________________________________


Visual presentation


____________________________________________________ by ____________________________________________________


____________________________________________________ by ____________________________________________________


Other programs


____________________________________________________ by ____________________________________________________


____________________________________________________ by ____________________________________________________


Project Group Meeting

Name of Project

Project Leader in Charge













Recreation led by _________________________ Refreshments by _________________________


*May take attendance with a sign-in sheet.


Club Report Form

The following form should be completed and mailed to the county Extension 4-H youth agent after each club meeting.




Name of 4-H Club



Date and place of meeting




Members and volunteers present (list by name)






Opening ceremonies (explain who did what)






Educational program (explain who did what and how)






Other (explain)






Next meeting date and place






Help and materials I need








Date ______________________ Signed _______________________________________________________________________


Parent Interest Survey

You may reproduce this parent survey to use in determining parents’ interest.

Please check those things you will be willing to do when your 4-H club needs them:

o Lend kitchen, backyard, living room, garage, or basement for an occasional meeting.

o Help provide light refreshments.

o Organize a carpool for transportation to and from 4-H meetings.

o Drive in a carpool for transportation to and from 4-H meetings.

o Be a chaperone and/or provide transportation for a tour, picnic, contest, clinic, workshop, camp, party, or other 4-H activity.

o Help telephone parents for last-minute announcements.

o Encourage my child to start and complete projects on time. I will take an active interest in him/her and encourage being proud of his/her own achievements.

o Help my child obtain materials or equipment needed for 4-H projects and see to it that he/she brings them to the meeting when necessary.

o Encourage my child to have exhibits and visual presentations completed and delivered on time with all information as stated in project instructions and county rules.

o Urge my 4-H’er to attend all meetings.

o Assist with 4-H projects. List them:




o Share a hobby with the group. These are our hobbies:





Parent _____________________________________________ Guardian _____________________________________________


o Other interests. I am interested in helping with the following:


o 4-H tours o Assist at fair o Judging

o 4-H picnic o Community service project o Showmanship

o 4-H achievement night/day o Fashion revue o Other

o 4-H camp o Public speaking

o Fund-raising o Visual presentations





Name _________________________________ Address ________________________________________________________



Occupation: Parent ____________________________________ Guardian _________________________________________



Phone _____________________________ 4-H’er’s name _______________________________________________________


A copy of the 4-H Individual Enrollment form

A list of the Mississippi 4-H project code and description.

More Mississippi 4-H Project Codes with descriptions.

Project enrollment form with space for code, project name, and need project book.


Leaders Preferred

Black 4 leaf clover with H on each leaf.

The boss drives men; the leader coaches them.

The boss depends upon authority; the leader depends on goodwill.

The boss says, “I”; the leader says, “We.”

The boss assigns the task; the leader sets the pace.

The boss says, “Get here on time”; the leader gets there ahead of time.

The boss fixes the blame for the breakdown; the leader fixes the breakdown.

The boss knows how it is done; the leader shows how.

The boss makes work drudgery; the leader makes it a game.

The boss says, “Go”; the leader says, “Let’s go.”


Publication 1456 (POD-10-17)

Distributed by the MSU Extension 4-H Youth Development Program. Revised by Harvey L. Gordon, retired Extension Intructor, 4-H Youth Development.
Department: Ctr 4-H Youth Development
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