So I joined a 4-H club – now what?
What to expect at your first 4-H club meeting.
Congratulations, you decided to join a 4-H club! Now you might be wondering, what’s next? When you head to your first meeting, try to arrive a few minutes early and plan to attend with your child. Be sure to take a pen and paper or have your smart phone ready to capture a few notes. Take a moment to introduce yourself to the leader, parents and other members that may be arriving. Let them know you are looking forward to being a part of the club and are new to 4-H. The leader may have paperwork for you to complete and provide you with a link to the 4-H enrollment system. Members may set together or with their families, it really depends on the club; both of these situations are fine, just allow your child to interact with other members. They will make friends rather quickly and this will also allow you to begin connecting with the other adults.
No two clubs are exactly the same because 4-H clubs come in all shapes and sizes and are uniquely designed by the leaders and members that make them up. Depending on the type of club you selected, your experience will vary somewhat. If you selected a general or community club, you will be able to complete a number of projects within that club. However, if you joined a project club, you may be focusing specifically on a single project area such as horses or dogs. If you have joined a special interest or SPIN club, you will only be meeting for four to eight weeks focused around a topic area.
If you are joining an existing club, don’t be surprised when teens call the meeting to order and youth lead the American and 4-H Pledges. You can obtain a copy of the 4-H Pledge online so you can practice before the next 4-H event. The meeting may be conducted by members from the club with help from the leaders. The meeting may include an educational component, a business meeting and a recreational component. Janelle Stewart’s article, “What happens at 4-H club meetings?” explains these components in detail.
If you are joining a brand new club or starting your own club, don’t be afraid to ask questions. You may hear a variety of terms including projects, project meetings, club meetings, project leaders, club leaders, cloverbuds, members, teen leaders and fair. Don’t worry – over the next few weeks, this series of articles will explain all of these terms to help you better understand 4-H and all is has to offer.
4-H is a great program with lots of amazing opportunities for members and leaders alike. If you haven’t selected a 4-H club for your child yet, there is still time to check out the programs your Michigan State University Extension county office has to offer.