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What is your role as a 4-H Parent?

Parents are an essential part of the 4-H experience. With all of the options available to 4-Her's, and the individualization of the program, parents need to take an active role in their child's 4-H experience. Organizational leaders cannot meet the needs of all the 4-Her's in their club by themselves. It requires parental involvement. 


Parents should help their 4-Her's obtain the supplies and equipment they need for their projects, assist with assignments and help with record keeping. Parents may also be asked to provide transportation, bring refreshments or attend a meeting.


Parents need to guide, motivate and encourage the 4-H member. Parents should praise their 4-Her's when they meet their 4-H goals. Reaching personally set goals can be more meaningful than winning ribbons or trophies. Try to avoid comparing the progress of any child with that of other 4-Her's who may have different goals and resources.


Most importantly - 4-H IS A FAMILY AFFAIR!


Leadership Roles Open to Adults

Organizational Leaders: coordinate the overall club program and the activities of members of other leaders. They serve as the club's communication link with the county Extension staff and the 4-H and Youth Council. 


Project Leaders: work with groups of members enrolled in the same project. They help members set their individual goals, teach new skills in project meetings, prepare for related activities or contests such as demonstrations or judging, complete project records and prepare projects for exhibit.


Activity Leaders: work with groups of members participating in 4-H activities. Activities such as health, conservation, Share the Fun, public speaking, recreation and community involvement usually involve groups of members or the entire club membership.


General Helper: works with the club to meet the needs of the 4-H members. They may attend meetings, provide transportation to activities and fill in wherever needed.


What Happens at the Different Levels of 4-H Participation?


Local Level

A 4-H club is a group of young people and adults who meet regularly for fun and learning. Clubs are usually made up of families from a community and often formed around schools, churches or community centers.


Most clubs hold monthly meetings attended by members and their parents. Club members elect officers and lead the group and the meetings. An adult club leader advises the officers and the meetings usually last less than two hours. The time is divided among club business, recreation and educational programs. Each club is encouraged to do a community service project.


Local clubs choose the areas that they want to study during the year. Each club can select two or three topics to study. Popular topics are computer technology, conservation, safety, performing arts, arts and crafts, food and nutrition, beef, swine, goats and sheep.


Parents are encouraged to offer project meetings at the local level. For a more detailed description of what happens at a project meeting, see the "What is a 4-H Project?" section.


County Level

A number of activities are available for 4-H'ers and their families at the county level. Activities include conferences, retreats, contests, training for youth and adults, leadership activities, community service activities, fairs and more. Details about the different activities are outlined in the 4-H Handbook and the 4-H Newsletter. 


An awards program is available for youth to participate in. There are a variety of awards available including trips, scholarships and project awards. To receive awards,     4-H'ers fill out applications, record books or enter contests.


An Ambassador program is available for youth grades 7-12. The group is involved in citizenship and leadership activities. County officers are elected and county programs are identified for youth to participate in.


District and State Level

A number of activities are available for youth to participate in at the district and state level. Following is a partial listing of events. Detailed information is available from the Extension Office, the 4-H Handbook or newsletter. 


District: Leadership conferences, Share the Fun, District Officer program, Meat Judging, etc...


State: State Officer program, judging contests (including livestock, dairy, pasture and land, meat quiz bowls, forestry, wildlife habitat evaluation, etc...), livestock shows, horse shows, fairs, Ambassador program, Roundup (state conference), trips (including Western Leadership in Denver, Citizenship Washington Focus in Washington D.C., 4-H Youth Congress, etc.


What is a 4-H Project?

Members start by selecting a project, and once enrolled, the 4-H member, parent and project volunteer (if available) set goals, stating what the 4-H member hopes to learn in the project. It is important that 4-H members complete each project by attending project meetings (if available), reaching goals and keeping records.

It is recommended that members limit new projects to 3 or 4 each year. This allows the 4-H'er to do quality work, learn by doing and complete project work. The project areas are listed on the enclosed enrollment form.

It is HIGHLY recommended that project work be offered at the local level. As a parent YOU can be a project leader and share your skills.


The project volunteer involves members in a fun activity centered on a specific project (such as breads). Members share what they have accomplished and problems they have faced in their project as well as demonstrate something they learned since their last meeting (example:  each member may bring a loaf of bread that they baked, share the recipe, talk about what they learned and let others taste it.) The project volunteer then teaches a new skill or technique, which can take the form of a demonstration, a film, a tour or a discussion. Members try out the new skill during an activity period and the meeting concludes with a discussion of plans for the next meeting.


No set number of meetings is required, but projects usually include at least six hours of learning time. Project meetings can begin as soon as the 4-H club has completed its enrollment. Some project groups have seasonal activities and may not start meeting until later in the year.


Literature is available for most projects to help the volunteer teach. Training is available from the county staff in setting up project meetings, how to teach, what to teach, using resources and working with youth.


Project work can be entered in the county fair. If it wins at the county fair, it advances to the state fair. Various projects have additional competitive opportunities available.

Unfortunately, it is not always possible to have a project leader for each project area. In those instances, members and their families are encouraged to do self-study with the help of the 4-H literature from the office. If help is need, county staff, other parents or leaders may help.


Each 4-H'er is eligible to complete a 4-H Record Book or Project Report Form for awards. As a junior member, they can compete for medals, and participation awards.As a senior member, they are eligible for numerous county awards (including Senior Hall of Fame, Leadership, Citizenship and Achievement Awards), as well as trips and scholarships. The award program is outlined in the 4-H handbook, which is available from your local leader or the county office.


If your child is interested in achieving the highest awards in 4-H, they must become an "expert" in their project area, teach others what they know (leadership), and give back to their communities (citizenship.) Normally, this process takes a number of years. A junior member will have the chance to "grow into" their leadership, citizenship and project expertise. An older 4-H'er can accomplish these skills in a shorter period. If your child is interested in the record book program, contact the Extension office for individualized help

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