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Extension Educator, 4-H Youth Development
University of Illinois Extension
3022 W Jackson
Macomb, IL 61455
4-H Youth Development
4-H Frequently Asked Questions
What is 4-H?
4-H is a voluntary, informal education program for young people ages 8-18, as of September 1st of the current 4-H year. 4-H Cloverbuds is a program for younger children who are 5-7 years old.
Isn't 4-H just for farm kids?
No! 4-H is for all young people, regardless of where they live, what their backgrounds are, or what interests them. Today in Illinois most 4-H members are from urban areas and they participate in projects to learn many different life skills.
What do the H's stand for?
Head, Heart, Hands and Health. Members pledge:
My head to clearer thinking
My heart to greater loyalty
My hands to larger service
My health to better living, for my club, my community, my country and my world.
What are the 4-H emblem, motto, and slogan?
A green four-leaf clover with a white "H" on each clover leaf is the 4-H emblem. Green and white are the colors. The 4-H motto is "To Make the Best Better." The 4-H slogan is "Learn By Doing."
Who conducts 4-H?
The Illinois 4-H program is conducted by University of Illinois Extension at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. County and state programs are directed by Extension staff who train and support volunteers who work with 4-H members. An Extension Council is comprised of local residents who serve in an advisory capacity to the Extension staff to coordinate, organize, and plan programming in the unit.
Who funds 4-H?
University of Illinois Extension receives funding from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the state of Illinois, and local county boards. A variety of private donors also fund Extension.
What does it cost to join?
4-H has a $20 membership registration fee. There may be minimal costs for an education program, some 4-H activities or events.
Why do young people like 4-H?
4-H provides a chance to learn new things, develop new skills, travel to new places, experience new situations, make new friends, and most importantly have lots of fun.
How do you join?
Call the Extension unit office in your county, or contact a local 4-H club to see if there is room in a club near you. If not, five interested young people, with an adult or two to help them, may start a new club.
How often do clubs meet?
Most clubs meet once or twice a month all year long, depending on what the group wants to do. The 4-H year runs from September 1 to August 31. Sometimes members may have to be enrolled in a project by a certain time to be eligible for a certain activity such as the 4-H fair.
Where do 4-H clubs meet?
A 4-H club may be organized on a community or neighborhood basis and use local facilities or members' homes. It can also be organized within a school using the school's facilities, time, and staff. Any place large enough and convenient for the club members is a good choice.
When do clubs meet and how long do meetings last?
This depends on the group. Many community clubs meet for an hour or two after school, in the evening, or on Saturday. The most important thing is to have a regular time to get together. School clubs may meet for an hour or two during the school day.
Should 4-H clubs have dues?
This depends on their need for money. If a club wants money for some activities, it usually charges dues or has fundraising activities.
What are 4-H projects?
4-H projects are challenging, but practical planned courses of study with learning experiences centered around a specific subject. Members usually work on a project (subject area) for a year. Hands-on, learn-by-doing involvement is the most important aspect of a project. Making, growing, caring for, observing, and participating are all involved in 4-H projects. Over 175 projects are currently available in the Illinois 4-H program. The Illinois Clover lists projects available to members.
What does a 4-H project cost?
It varies. Members are responsible for the cost of supplies for projects. Some projects might use supplies from around the house while others might invest hundreds of dollars in their project. The cost of the project should be realistic to the family situation.
Are 4-H members expected to do their own project work?
Yes, with help. Members are expected to select at least one project and complete one or more learning experiences related to the project during the year. 4-H is a "learn by doing" program. Leaders, junior leaders, and parents may tell or show members how, but members are expected to learn to do things themselves.
Are projects done individually or as a group?
Both. It varies among projects and among clubs. Some projects, like breads or visual arts, are more fun done as a group. Others, like making a dress or growing a garden, will be done individually. Some clubs have several project leaders and do specific project work at club meetings while others rely on parents and others to help members individually.
What is an exhibit?
An exhibit is an object or display designed to show something that the members have accomplished. Ideally, it motivates members to learn and to have fun in a 4-H project. An exhibit is not an end in itself nor does it measure all the learning that takes place in a project. Self-recognition and self-satisfaction for having completed a project are important rewards. A ribbon is only one measure of success.
What do 4-H clubs do at meetings?
4-H clubs usually participate in four general kinds of activities during the meeting. They have a business meeting, special interest programs, project work, and recreation or social activities. Clubs may have a little business to conduct, may work on their projects for a while, and then play a game or two. Sometimes the whole meeting is devoted to one topic.
What are 4-H leaders?
Volunteer leaders are the backbone of the 4-H program. They are adults who work voluntarily with a group of 4-H members. Volunteers go through a youth protection application and screening process before they are enrolled as leaders. Additionally, volunteers receive training in skills they will need to become successful 4-H volunteers.
Are there different kinds of leaders?
There are three general categories of local 4-H volunteers: organizational leaders, project leaders, and activity leaders. Organizational leaders guide the overall organization of the club, help it function smoothly, and maintain communications among the member families and between the club and the Extension office. Project leaders work with members enrolled in a specific project or project area, assisting them to plan and carry out experiences that will help them reach their learning goals in the project. Activity leaders work with members in planning and carrying out specific activities for the club as a whole.
Where would one learn how to be a 4-H leader?
The Extension office is the first point of contact. The local staff usually includes a unit leader, community worker, and secretary. Extension educators are also available to support 4-H volunteers. After completing the screening process, the volunteer would be enrolled and placed on the 4-H leaders mailing list. Orientation would be provided. Leaders are invited to special training meetings and provided with the materials needed to conduct a 4-H club. An experienced leader nearby may also help with questions.
What's expected of parents?
Children need parental encouragement to get them started in 4-H and to keep them involved in the program in later years. Parents can help by:
Sharing - Provide encouragement and take interest in 4-H projects and activities. Listen, look, and offer suggestions, but avoid the temptation to "take over" and do things. Children learn from their mistakes as well as successes.
Preparing - Assist by helping children understand the value of doing projects, having duties in the club, and following through on responsibilities as expected by others.
Being there - Children gain more from 4-H by attending meetings regularly and getting involved in 4-H activities. Parents are welcome at meetings and are encouraged to stay and observe. Lend a hand whenever possible. However, remember that 4-H clubs are for kids.
Caring - Arrange to participate whenever possible. Parents presence shows the child that what he or she is doing is very important.