If you do not see an answer to your question, contact your county MU Extension office who will be glad to help.

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About 4-H

What is 4-H?

4-H is a community of young people across America learning leadership, citizenship and life skills. 4-H is young people making new friends and memories while preparing to be leaders of today and tomorrow.

4-H is a volunteer-led organization that reaches boys and girls through small groups called clubs and through classrooms, in some cases. 4-H members choose from over 40 projects in which to participate during the 4-H calendar year. Most projects use hands-on learning experiences to teach subject matter and life-skills such as cooperation, leadership and decision-making — skills that can be applied over and over for a lifetime.

What do the H's stand for?

Head, Heart, Hands and Health.

What is the 4-H emblem?

The emblem is a green four-leaf clover with a white "H" on each clover leaf. The 4-H Name and Emblem are protected under federal statute Title 18, U.S. Code 707. For regulations on its use, see 4-H Name and Emblem Regulations.

Why do young people like 4-H?

They have fun with friends at meetings, social activities, tours, trips, camps and fairs. They learn to do interesting things such as take care of animals, plants, redecorate their rooms, fix their bikes, take pictures, practice cooking and collecting rocks. And, they help others learn more about their 4-H projects, provide leadership to younger members, as well as serve others through community service activities.

What will I do in 4-H?

Want to race bicycles? Become a veterinarian? Take award-winning photographs? 4-H members have the opportunity to learn more about activities of their interest through projects. In addition, 4-H members can participate in community service projects, attend county fairs, camps, club parties, trips to other states and countries and more.

Who can join 4-H?

4-H is for boys and girls who will reach their eighth birthday and will not reach their nineteenth birthday by January 1 of the current year. 4-H is open to everyone, regardless of race, religion, color, disability, gender, or place of residence. Most Missouri county 4-H programs offer a pre-4-H program called Clover Kids for children 5-7 years old.

How do I join?

It’s easy. Call your county MU Extension office. 4-H faculty or staff will guide you to the 4-H opportunities in your area.

Is 4-H only for boys and girls?

No, 4-H is also for families and communities.

4-H is definitely a family affair. 4-H encourages and rewards participation by the entire family. Family members learn more about each other through their involvement in 4-H and may even become better families as they learn to appreciate each other’s strengths and talents more.

Young people enroll as 4-H members. Other family members help out as group leaders, project leaders, meeting helpers, transportation aides, you name it! To be a recognized 4-H volunteer, you must successfully complete a 4-H volunteer application and screening process.

An integral part of the popularity of 4-H is that it reaches into the communities in which these families live. Many 4-H groups, for instance, meet in churches, schools and community centers. As part of their 4-H experience, young people are encouraged to develop a better understanding of communities and to contribute to community development.

Who provides leadership in 4-H?

Local leadership is provided by 4-H youth specialists in the extension county offices which is supported financially by county, state and federal tax dollars.  

Can my parents or guardians be involved?

Parents and guardians can help as much as they would like. Whether it’s making food for a meeting, driving members to activities or becoming a project leader, there is always room for parents and guardians to become involved. To be a recognized 4-H volunteer, you must successfully complete a 4-H volunteer application and screening process and must complete the one time Making the Best Better: Volunteer Orientation.

Who sponsors 4-H?

4-H in Missouri 4-H is sponsored by the University of Missouri Extension in partnership with Lincoln University Extension and state, federal and county government in each Missouri county.  Nationally, 4-H is part of the Extension Service of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. 

Who names a club?

The members of the club do — with guidance from their leader and 4-H youth specialist.


How do you get a 4-H group organized?

Have a meeting with the young people who are interested and the adults who are willing to help. Publicize it through the school or any place where young people and their parents can be reached.  Or join a 4-H group that is already organized — as your 4-H youth specialist.

Does it cost to join 4-H?

There is a small fee to join 4-H, check with your county MU Extension center for details. In addition, some projects may require a small investment to get started, and there might be charges for materials or special trips. 4-H projects books and guides can be purchased.

What do you do at the first meeting?

Get acquainted and have fun with a group mixer or some refreshments. Show and talk about some projects the group might like. (Give this some thought in advance and invite the 4-H youth specialist or an experienced 4-H leader.) Discuss when, where and how often the group will meet.

What about officers?

4-H clubs elect officers and whatever committees they need to conduct their business. Y783, So You Are a 4-H Club Officer (PDF) is available for presidents, vice-presidents, secretaries, treasurers, news reporters, recreation leaders, historians, song and game leaders. The club may have any number of officers, depending on its needs. It is a good idea to wait until the second or third meeting to elect officers so members know each other better. Check with your county MU Extension center about regional officer training.


How often do 4-H clubs meet?

Some clubs meet every month year round and others meet every week for a month or two. This depends on the needs and desires of the group. 4-H clubs organize between September and December each year.

Where do 4-H clubs meet?

Any place is acceptable if it is large enough and is convenient for the members of the group. Some clubs meet in leaders or members homes. Some meet in a central location such as a community room, school or church.

How big should a club be?

This depends on the age of the members, the space for meetings and the leadership available. The ideal club is big enough to have fun together, but small enough for everybody to feel a part of the group. The average club in Missouri has 10 to 20 members and two or three leaders.


What is a 4-H leader?

An adult who works voluntarily with a group of 4-H members.

Are there different kinds of leaders?

Yes. Volunteer club coordinators are adults who help a group get organized and run its meetings. Adults who teach members how to do things are called project leaders and usually have a special interest or skill such as photography, clothing or gardening. 

Can the same person be a project and an organizational leader? 

Sure — if they have the time and interest. Sometimes big clubs divide these jobs and have several project leaders (and youth leaders) to meet all the interests of 4-H members.

Who are youth leaders?

Youth leaders are 4-H members who usually work under direct supervision of an adult leader to assist with a project or special club activity.

How many leaders should a 4-H club have?

That depends on the size of the club and the ages of its members. 4-H guidelines suggest a minimum of two leaders per club and three to five leaders for clubs with 40 or more members in order to share the workload and give individual attention to the members.

Where do I learn how to be a 4-H leader?

Primarily, help would come from the county MU Extension office. Discuss your interest in working with youth and your previous experience with the 4-H youth specialist. Missouri 4-H strives to provide safe environments for everyone involved in youth activities.


What are 4-H projects?

A 4-H project is a series of learning experiences for members. Over 40 projects are available in the Missouri 4-H program. Most projects have manuals to assist the 4-H leader and member.

What is a 4-H project manual?

A project manual contains help and direction needed to complete the project. Some projects have a manual for each division. Others have one manual which is used for several years. Most projects also have helper’s guides.

What does a 4-H project cost?

It varies. A member enrolled in Arts and Crafts might use supplies from around the home with no additional expense. A member who buys and keeps a horse might invest several hundred dollars. Members should consider cost and the family situation as they select a project. 

Are 4-H members expected to do their own project work?

Yes — with help. 4-H is a "learning by doing" program. Leaders, youth leaders and parents may explain or show a member how, but members are expected to learn how to do things themselves.

What is an exhibit?

An exhibit is an object or display designed to help a member show what he or she has accomplished. Ideally it motivates a youth 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 from completing a project.

Are projects done individually or as a club?

Both. Some projects like Geology are more fun when done as a group. Others like making a dress or baking cookies will be done individually.


What happens at meetings? 

4-H clubs usually consists of five parts: project work, conduct business meetings, recreation or social activities, community service work and special interest programs.

Not all five parts are planned at each meeting. Sometimes clubs will conduct a short business meeting, work on their projects, then have recreation. Occasionally the whole meeting is devoted to part. For example, members may bring their dog and practice obedience training, or members may elect officers, plan the club program and have a pizza-making party, or members may tour a local business. Variety is important.

Who plans the program for the club?

Members of the club. The program may be planned at a club meeting or a committee may collect ideas and plan the program.

When do clubs meet and how long do meetings last?

This depends on the group. Many clubs meet after school, in the evening or on Saturday. The most important thing is to have a regular time to get together at a time all can remember.


What should parents know about 4-H leaders?

It's important to understand that leaders are unpaid volunteers. Parents should attend a meeting or volunteer to hold a meeting in their home so they can see how the leader works with the club.

How do you get parents to help?

Ask them. Be specific about jobs the club needs help with. Think positively. People who expect help usually get it. Offer a choice of jobs as parents can provide different amounts of time and abilities. Ask the youth to ask their parents to help.

As a 4-H parent, how can I help my child?

Counsel your child in the selection of 4-H projects that are interesting and can be conveniently financed. Continue to show interest and enthusiasm after the projects have been selected. Help your child understand how to carry out the various phases of the project, but don't do the project for them. Your job is to teach, not govern; to guide, not control. Learn to give increased freedom as your child develops.