Record keeping for 4-Her’s

4-H members can learn to keep records.

Record keeping is a skill that young people can develop in their early years.  The art of documenting your accomplishments, goals and expenses can be intimidating but when a system is utilized that fits your personality it can be rewarding.  It is important to remember no one system fits every need, but Michigan State University Extension says, with a bit of thought it is possible to find or design a system that meets your needs. Leaders who encourage record keeping should help members understand the benefits of record keeping and help them set goals for their record keeping.

Record keeping can help youth understand the dollars and sense of a project. They may learn to figure their breakeven point, decide if producing their own was a better deal than purchasing one premade or just keep track of expenses. When members are working on a market project or entrepreneurial adventure this is critical information to help them be successful.

Members and leaders can also track the skills and abilities they have gained through their learning experiences in their project area. This can generate an impressive list and help young people understand the life skills learned and assist them in preparing a resume or completing a job application.

Finding a system that works for you is really a matter of preference. The organized individual may enjoy a
3-ring binder that allows for flexibility and growth. Tabs may be customized for your projects, activities, club or by the year. Other items that can be added may include financial records for your projects, fond memories, or calendars that reflect your project work and 4-H career.

Those that enjoy technology have a great number of options available through predesigned applications as well as the opportunity to develop their own system to track exactly what makes sense for them. The portability and accessibility make this a favorite for many since it can be accessed from anywhere and updated at any time with a smartphone, tablet or computer.

For the creative individual scrapbooking may be the answer that offers the creative outlet for them to capture their memories, expenses and experiences in a photo journal or series of photos that capture project growth and skills learned along the way.

The most common categories that members track are community service, project experiences, project expenses, learning experiences, awards and recognition. This information can be used for scholarship applications, job applications and to help members and leaders reflect on their year. Regardless of the system a member selects it offers an opportunity for reflection and life skill development.  

To attend a session on record keeping and participate in additional volunteer development opportunities, consider attending the 4-H Volunteer Forum on November 9 at MSU. Registration details are available, at

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