Tips for a successful 4-H Club – Part 2

Explore the basics of a 4-H club and a club meeting’s components.

4-H is a learn-by-doing, educational, fun program for young people ages five to nineteen. Through involvement with caring adult volunteers, 4-H members gain meaningful experiences that contribute to their development and personal growth. The value of the experiences depends largely on the relationship built between and among the members and adults. Active participation in a 4-H club supports young people to develop life skills and assets.

A model 4-H club includes the following:

  • At least five youth members from two or more families
  • One or more registered (who has completed the Volunteer Selection Process) adult volunteer
  • Decision making and operation of the club is the members’ primary responsibility
  • Six or more club meetings during the 4-H year (Sept. 1 to Aug. 31)
  • Participation in learning experiences outside the local club
  • Involvement in the community at large with service learning activities
  • Evaluation and recognition of progress on individual and group goals
  • Fundraising should be done for the good of the total group and must be consistent with the Michigan 4-H Treasurer’s Record Book; raising funds should not be the main focus of group activities

The success of the local 4-H club is the key to positive learning experiences of the club members. Here is a list of ten items considered to be basic criteria of a strong club:

  1. At least 80 percent of the members re-enroll each year
  2. Each member receives recognition for their 4-H involvement; his may be year pins, project completion certificates or public recognition through a news article
  3. The club has well planned meetings with three parts: business, education and group building activities (recreation)
  4. At least 90 percent of the members attend each meeting
  5. Each member’s parents participate in the club meetings or activities at least once a year
  6. The club has a program plan with goals for the year
  7. Members have the main responsibility for planning programs and activities
  8. The club plans and completes at least one community service learning project
  9. At least 80 percent of member projects are completed each year
  10. Members are involved in county, state and/or national 4-H opportunities

By taking time to intentionally plan and evaluate these ten criteria for a strong club, success will be ensured. Leaders should encourage members to devise a method to evaluate progress in each criteria area. A spread sheet or chart visible to the entire club would be helpful.

After the basic components and evaluation of a 4-H club are reviewed, the club meeting itself should be discussed. An effective meeting will be organized and led by youth officers with advice from screened and trained adult volunteers. A well-planned meeting gives members the opportunity to:

  • Make new friends and get to know current friends better
  • Share and expand ideas
  • Develop self-confidence and leadership skills
  • Participate in decision making
  • Acquire new knowledge
  • Enjoy fun recreational activities

Several basic items to include in planning include where to hold the meeting, definite starting and ending times, frequency, yearly club calendar of times and events and encouraging participation by all members.

The “Points to Look for in A Good 4-H Meeting” form might be a useful resource.

Answer yes or no to these questions to evaluate the effectiveness of your club meeting.

  • Do all of the officers and leaders check meeting plans with one another beforehand?
  • Does the president call the meeting to order on time, keep moving down the agenda and close the meeting on time?
  • Do all officers use correct parliamentary procedure, when appropriate?
  • Is the business part of the meeting short and concise?
  • Are guests introduced and made to feel at home?
  • Is there an educational program in addition to the business meeting and recreation time?
  • Does the meeting have variety?
  • Is the educational program of interest to everyone?
  • Is there an opportunity for members to get to know each other?
  • Are all announcements short and to the point?
  • Do officers avoid doing all the talking?
  • Do volunteer leaders avoid doing all the talking?
  • Do all or most of the members have an opportunity to talk during the meeting?
  • Is the recreation suitable to the meeting place and the group?
  • Do member, officers, and leaders treat each other in a courteous and respectful manner?
  • Are volunteer leaders given a chance to voice their opinion?
  • Are all members given a chance to voice their opinions without feeling judged or ridiculed?
  • Is there fun, learning and fellowship at the meeting?

By following the model of a 4-H club, evaluating agreed upon criteria and planning an effective club meeting a successful year may be ensured for adults and members alike.

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