Information for Prospective 4-H Volunteers
- Why be a volunteer leader?
- Volunteer Positions
- How to become a volunteer leader?
- Want to start your own 4-H Club?
Why be a volunteer leader?
People volunteer with 4-H for many reasons. One obvious benefit is to help guide and mentor our country’s future citizens and leaders. Volunteers also develop new leadership skills, meet new friends, and have great adventures.
Adult volunteers play an important role in 4-H youth education programs. They coordinate local community clubs and help to plan and conduct local, regional, state, and national 4-H events.
4-H volunteers help 4-Hers to:
- Learn by doing
- Develop leadership and life skills
- Make new friends
- Give back to the community
- Build connections with others
- Prepare, do, and share.
There are a number of ways that you can volunteer in 4-H. The links below provide position descriptions for each opportunity to help you decide where your skills, interests and time availability might make a good match.
How to become a Leader?
- Complete an application in our state 4-H database at co.4honline.com. Create a family profile if you don’t already have one. If you do have one, log in and add yourself into your family profile to access the leader application.
- Select three references and let them know that they will be receiving a questionnaire via email from Extension and ask them to fill it out ASAP.
- Fill out Background Check information from CSU HireRite as soon as you receive the e-mail.
- Watch the online training modules and answer questions. A link and password will be sent to you.
- Interview with 4-H Leader Selection Committee (Interviews are only conducted quarterly). Extension Staff will contact you to select a date and time.
- Attend a New 4-H Leader Orientation, conducted twice per year by the county Extension Agent.
- 4-H adult volunteers must re-enroll in co.4honline.com every fall when re-enrollment opens in order to stay active. If you are inactive for more than a year, you will need to reapply and go through the whole process over again. So it is better to re-enroll, even if you are not sure how much time you will be able to volunteer, than to let your leader status lapse.
Application Materials – If you don’t have Internet access to apply to become a 4-H leader, please contact the Extension Office for assistance. The links below describe the leader application process and provide additional information related to volunteer roles.
Want to Start your own 4-H Club?
How to Recruit 4-H Members, and How Many Should We Have?
First of all, how many members? 4-H clubs should have at least five members from two or more families. Some suggest that six to 10 members per adult leader is an optimum number. Some clubs have as many as 70 youth. However, it depends on the age of the members in your club.
It also depends on how many other leaders will be working with you. Limit your first group to a number with which you and your co-leaders feel comfortable!
Recruiting members is seldom hard to do. Start with a contact to your county Extension staff. They usually have names of people who want to join a club in your area. You can always write newspaper articles, recruit at schools or church, or just talk up the club to parents and children you know.
Because 4-H receives federal and state funds, we must be certain our programs are made available to all people equally without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, or handicap.
You may find it helpful to recruit some other adults to help with club leadership as co-leaders, project leaders, or program leaders. Interested parents, 4-H alumni, or friends are often willing to help. This gives the leader much needed assistance and also provides continuity for club meetings in case of the leader’s absence. To provide a safe environment for youth enrolled in 4-H, all leaders must go through the leader application process. Please see above section on how to become a leader.
Before youth can enroll in a new club, leaders will need to complete the state 4-H club/group chartering paperwork. You can view chartering documents at the State 4-H Website. These chartering documents must be completed by a September deadline every year that the club remains active. Organizational leaders are responsible for getting these materials to the Extension Office, along with any treasurer records for auditing, each year. Clubs who wish to have a bank account must apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) before opening a bank account. There are specific guidelines for managing 4-H funds, so please contact the Extension Agent for more information.
How Can I Enroll My Members?
Colorado uses a computer-based enrollment system, co.4honline.com, which means the forms must be filled out completely and accurately. Be sure to check the projects listed. All 4-H members must re-enroll every year, by mid-DECEMBER. It’s a good idea to enroll as soon as possible so you and your members remain on the e-mail distribution lists to receive notices of all events and activities. Jefferson County also has a deadline for project enrollment additions and changes in order to be eligible to participate in state and county fairs, MAY 1. Paper enrollment forms are available for families who do not have Internet access.
After your club enrollment has been submitted to your county Extension office, you can request a membership card for each member and leader.
What Type of Club Do We Choose?
4-H clubs are groups of youth and adults who meet on a regular basis, chartered by the county Extension office. Leadership is jointly provided by youth and adults where there is a planned educational program, and the club meets at least 6 hours in any given year and plans to continue meeting from one year to the next. The target audience is 4th through 12th grade.
4-H clubs are expected to:
- build youth and adult partnerships,
- set annual club goals and evaluate progress toward those goals,
- plan an educational, experientially based program,
- be involved in community service activities, and
- keep records of their activities.
Community Club is a program initiated and facilitated by youth and adult volunteers in the context of a community (i.e. neighborhood, township, city). These types of clubs aim to engage youth and adults in both individual and group activities that foster learning and development in a variety of subject matter areas (i.e. food and nutrition, wildlife, beef, visual arts, etc.).
Project Club is a program focused more deeply on specific subject matter (i.e. shooting sports, horse, and photography). Project clubs can operate within any school or community setting or as part of any of the other club types. Meeting schedules may vary within a short-term or yearlong schedule.
Afterschool Club is a program offered to youth following the school day. Afterschool clubs are often divided by age groups. Afterschool clubs aim to complement the learning and development that occurs during the school day and to extend learning during non-school hours.
They are often a part of a broader after-school initiative and may have a wide variety of partners and resources that support the program operation. This club type is often facilitated by paid staff and /or volunteers. The schedule complements the school calendar.
Site-based Club is designed to reach underserved youth in the communities where they live with year long programming. This could be a public housing site or neighborhood with a community center that can serve as the hosting location.
Clubs can be divided out by ages as well. When doing this consider social, intellectual, emotional and physical growth, as well as the interest of the members.
Are There Dues for 4-H Members?
4-H club members are charged a program development fee, $45 per member.
In addition, some clubs may decide to pay for local club program costs by assessing a small fee per member or by working together on a fundraising project. Special events such as camps and county fairs may also have registration or entry fees connected to them. If a leader feels a family cannot afford the amount, they contact the County 4-H Office and ask about scholarships. No child will be denied access to the 4-H program.
What About Insurance?
4-H leaders automatically have liability insurance coverage through Colorado State University when leading a 4-H group or 4-H activity as soon as they are officially enrolled in the 4-H program. County Extension offices and clubs are required to carry accident insurance. Additional insurance is also required for special activities or events on a per-day basis.
Where Will Our Club Meet?
Where your club meets will probably be determined by the number of members. Meeting places could be public school buildings, family homes, churches, fairgrounds, etc. Most schools, communities, and other groups are willing to let their facilities be used for 4-H activities.
How Often Will Our Club Meet?
There are several possibilities in choosing a day and time for club meetings, such as:
- once a week, after school (this works well for elementary age members)
- once every 2 weeks, after school or on a weeknight
- once a month, on a weeknight
- once a month, on a Saturday or Sunday (sometimes this works best for clubs with members of a wide age span)
- other variations, limited only by the needs of your club members
It is required that a 4-H club be involved in at least six hours of educational programming during the year, more if desired or needed. This provides continuity for the club as well as time for development and accomplishment of individual and club goals.
Some projects can be taught on a short-term or seasonal basis. Members can enroll at any time during the year, prior to May 1 for competition in the County Fair. Some clubs start at the beginning of the school year but may plan to meet later for a shorter period of time, perhaps for a 3- or 6-month time period, and some clubs meet monthly all year long, depending on the project needs.
The club educational program can be general or offer a specific topic of interest. Youth may be of all grades or a focused grade group.
4-H Clubs and its members will:
- Build youth and adult partnerships.
- Set goals and evaluate progress toward those goals.
- Plan a fun experiential-based program where youth learn skills in leadership, citizenship, and communications, personal life management and project work where all youth
- Attend meetings/workshops/camps, etc.
- Complete a service project.
- Demonstrate learning by giving a presentation or demonstration before a group.
- Keep records of activities and evaluate experiences.