In Fulton and Montgomery Counties there are three different types of 4-H membership: 4-H Cloverbuds, 4-H Club Members and 4-H Independent Members.
To join 4-H, choose among these options:
- Seek and join an established 4-H club. The 4-H office can help match you to a club with interests common to your interests.
- Start a new neighborhood 4-H club of your own. It only takes 5 youth to start a new club. Oftentimes youth find this a good option, especially if there is no existing club that is geographically near your neighborhood.
- Enroll in 4-H as an independent member. The option does not provide the learning experiences associated with the group meeting/parliamentary procedure/leadership, socialization, and team work.
Contact Cornell Cooperative Extension of Fulton and Montgomery Counties if you reside in one of these counties. If you are a resident of a county other than Fulton or Montgomery Counties in New York State, contact your local Cooperative Extension office.
4-H Cloverbud Membership
Generally ages 5 & in Kindergarten through grade 2, 4-H Cloverbuds are members of a group that generally meets once a week or twice a month for about an hour. 4-H Cloverbuds work on short term projects, usually spending two or three meetings on one topic, including related field trips whenever possible. 4-H Cloverbuds practice group decision making, individual skill building, and socialization with peers. 4-H Cloverbud clubs are led by at least two caring adults who plan projects, events and activities with input from the youth members. Leaders involve parents in activities at all levels. Competition is not permitted in the 4-H Cloverbud program in accordance with research, which has shown competition to be inappropriate at this age level. Most 4-H Cloverbud Clubs have between 5 (the minimum) and 10 members.
4-H Club Membership
4-H club members meet once a month for regular business meetings and attend project meetings in which they are enrolled at scheduled times throughout the year. Project offerings vary from club to club and year to year. Some clubs are focused on one major subject matter area, offering project work in related topics. Other clubs are general interest groups where members take projects from a wide variety of subject matter areas. All 4-H clubs plan and participate in community service projects and members learn first- hand about Parliamentary Procedure, increasing their decision making skills by participating in a monthly business meeting led by elected officers and following a set agenda.
Most 4-H clubs have between 5 (the minimum) and 15 members. Larger 4-H clubs meet in church halls, firehouses, town halls or other community venue. Smaller clubs meet at the leader’s home or the homes of members. 4-H club members’ families are responsible for transportation to and from meetings, events and activities and for most costs incurred for the member’s own project materials. Research has shown that 4-H club membership improves school performance, a youth’s ability to make lasting friendships, and positively impacts their desire to make a difference in their communities.
4-H Independent Members
4-H independent members have the same rights and responsibilities as 4-H club members. 4-H independent members are guided by a parent/guardian or another caring adult arranged by the family. They obtain project teaching materials for their selected projects directly from the 4-H office and are responsible for securing supplies and equipment for all of their own projects. 4-H independent members plan and perform community service project work in their communities. 4-H independent membership is especially appealing to youth who have family or other commitments which preclude them from attending regularly scheduled business and project meetings.
Yes, for most 4-H activities and events. On occasion there may a special opportunity for the public to join in a 4-H activity, but generally 4-H activities require prior enrollment.
4-H members are required to enroll in and complete at least one project, participate in the counties-wide 4-H fundraiser and submit a 4-H Member Record Book. 4-H members who fail to complete and submit a 4-H Member Record Book do not receive completion for the 4-H year.
4-H members are expected to respect adult leaders, fellow 4-H members and guests, and 4-H staff. They are also expected to attend club meetings, support club activities, and complete their 4-H project work and record book to the best of their ability.
4-H members are expected to respect and abide by local, state and federal laws, 4-H rules and regulations on the county, state and national level, respect and honor their club's rules and exhibit exemplary behavior during any 4-H activity. 4-H members are expected to exhibit fair competition and sportsmanship at all times.
All 4-H members are required to read, sign and honor a "4-H Member Code of Conduct" during the enrollment process annually.
A project is a planned series of learning activities/experiences that engage youth in the use of their heads and hands in ways that result in enhanced competencies, open hearts and better health. A 4-H project is a series of experiences, each activity building on the last one that produces growth in learning. 4-H teaching materials are research-based and curricula is tested, reviewed and recommended by a subject matter panels consisting of researchers, educators, volunteer leaders and youth.
4-H projects give youth opportunities to:
- gain new knowledge and develop the critical thinking skills that lead to independence of thought and action;
- experience a sense of belonging through cooperative learning activities;
- develop a spirit of generosity by sharing knowledge and using skills to help others;
- achieve a feeling of mastery as the cumulative result of project work.
4-H projects teach the “why” as well as the “how.” For example: a member enrolled in a woodworking project might learn the safe and most effective way to use basic hand tools and gain experience in the selection of hardware and finishing materials while making a birdhouse (tangible product). The knowledge and skills learned (intangible product) can be applied when making other wooden items in the future. It is this transferable knowledge and skill that is the essence of the project—not just the finished product.
A project will not always result in a tangible product but may lead solely to an intangible result (for example, learning a CPR technique). In either case a learn-by-doing approach is used. The 4-H “learning by doing” method involves several steps in a process: doing, and then thinking, planning, and often doing again. Such learning is called experiential learning (see the “Experiential Learning Model” on the next page) and is a powerful approach for young people to develop a variety of life skills.
The experiential learning approach starts with a concrete activity—something for us to DO. Following the concrete activity we REFLECT on what we have experienced. Ask the members “what?” questions such as “What happened?” and “What was that like for you?” or “What did you observe?”
Next we need to help the members generalize the concepts formed through this experience so that they can APPLY their learning to future real-life situations. To do this, we first ask “So what?” questions such as “So, what made it easier or harder for you?” and “So what are the key learning from this activity?". Finally, we ask, “Now what?” and “Now that I know this, what do I do next?”
Through the experiential learning approach we help young people develop the characteristics and abilities that will allow them to grow into mature, productive and contributing citizens. In the 4-H Youth Development program, such characteristics and abilities are referred to as “Life Skills.”
“Project skills” focus on mastery of skills to complete a tangible project, whereas “life skills” are important for youth development. As they apply to 4-H project work life skills:
- Are intermeshed with subject matter learning
- Help young people meet their needs of belonging, independence, mastery and generosity in positive ways
- Are developed by linking with opportunities to meet youth needs
- Apply to young people’s present lives as well as to their future
- Are learned when adults model the skill, young people have the chance to try, practice, and rehearse the skill for themselves, and get feedback and reinforcement on their efforts
- Frequently rely on a body of knowledge as well as personal attributes
- Are transferable. That is, once a skill is acquired, it can be used in many ways and in different areas of life.
As caring adults, we want to meet children’s needs. We want to help youth learn how to meet their own needs in positive ways and to develop life-long skills and competencies. This is the purpose of 4-H project work.