4-H Club Operating Guidelines

The following Guidelines were established by the District 3 4-H Advisory/Development Committees for guidance in operating a 4-H club.

Goals and Philosophy of the 4-H Program

The purpose of 4-H is to provide opportunities for young people to:

  • Develop their highest potential in leadership and citizenship abilities.
  • Appreciate the value and dignity of work.
  • Acquire knowledge and skills through 4-H project materials and activities.
  • Develop attitudes and abilities to cooperate with others.
  • Learn to accept and carry out responsibilities.
  • Be of service to others.

Projects, club activities, and club meetings are tools used to help youth achieve these purposes.

Article I Membership

  1. Members must be at least 8 years of age and not have passed their 19th birthday by January 1st.

    The Cloverbud Program is designed as an opportunity for 5-7 year olds to learn about 4-H and life skills. There are restrictions as to projects that can be taken based on safety and availability of resources.

  2. All 4-H members must be enrolled in the County Extension Office by June 1st. The annual educational material fee is payable at time of enrollment.
    1. Horse Members- Youth carrying a 4-H Horse Project must be enrolled by June 1. Projects must be declared in the Extension office by June 1st, using the Horse ID Certificate. A $25.00 PA 4-H Horse Program yearly fee is also due and payable at time of enrollment.
    2. Dairy Members- Youth carrying the 4-H Dairy project must be enrolled by June 1st of the current year. AllanimalsshowingintheJunior2yearold class and older classes must be registered in the members name by January 1st of the current year. All animals showing in the yearling and calf classes must be registered in the members name by June 1st of the current year.
    3. Market Members- Youth carrying a market project (beef, sheep, swine, chicken, goat) must be enrolled in an organized 4-H club before the animal can be registered for the sale.
      • November 15- Beef Steers
      • January 10 – Dairy Feeders
      • April 15 - Sheep, Swine & Goat
      • June 1 – Market Chickens
    4. Members participating in the 4-H Dairy, Horse and Livestock Breeding Animal Leasing program must have their project plan/lease in to the Extension Office by June 1st of the current year.
  3. Members must attend 60%** of local club meetings, beginning with the reorganization meeting and complete a project to be eligible to participate in county, regional, and state 4-H events.

    Number of meetings held
    Number of meeting you must attend
    ** No committee or club may set the meeting limit under 60%.
    6 4
    7 4
    8 5
    9 5
    11 7
    12 7

    Summer Enrollment for Out of County Youth

    For those members who spend the summer here and would like to show, in order to meet attendance requirements that they attend meetings in their home county during the school year and attend summer meetings here. The club in the county must hold summer meetings. This would be a meeting exchange program. If there are any interested members, they need to set this up by April 15 with club leaders and 4-H educators in both counties. It will be a written agreement.

    College students not living in the area should attend 40% of meetings, including field trips to be eligible to show at the fair/round-up shows. Consult with local club leaders and the Extension Office concerning membership questions.

  4. Any member who chooses not to participate in competitive events may still complete their project for the year under the guidance of the local leader and the Extension Office.

Program/Event Participation

  1. Members may choose to participate in other optional activities to enhance their educational experiences, such as 4-H Horse Shows, Jr. Dairy Shows, 4-H Livestock Shows, Jr. Livestock Sale, Fashion Revue, Teen Leadership Activities, and Premier Exhibitor. Members are responsible for completing registration and following guidelines of participation at these events and activities.
  2. Members who fail to attend events they register for will be required to reimburse the 4-H Advisory/Development Fund the amount of the event scholarship.
  3. Returning members must complete at least one project to be eligible for participation in any regional, state or national 4-H activity or event the following year.
  4. All members shall adhere to the 4-H members code-of-conduct at all 4-H events, following each events policies and rules. Infractions will be handled by the County 4-H Advisory/Development Committee and the Extension Office.

Project Completion

  1. Attend 60% of local club meetings.
  2. Members must complete project book and/or project record book for that year and turn books in by county deadline. Animal project books will be turned in for review prior to show date to be set by the Extension Office and local leaders.
  3. In order to be eligible for county level awards, you must complete at least one project during the current year.
  4. All youth carrying an animal science project are required annually to participate in training regarding three specific “Good Production Practices” before July 1st or they are not eligible to show or sell their project animal.

Community Service

Each member will participate in an approved community service project with the club or as an individual.

Article II Club Organization

  1. The 4-H activity calendar will run from October 1 to September 30.
  2. A club must at least hold six regular club meetings a year, not to include trips or special events.
  3. It is recommended that a club have a minimum of 5 members.
  4. There shall be a local club organization with the necessary officers and duties. Club meetings are to be conducted by the club officers with guidance from volunteer leaders.
  5. For regular club meetings there will be excused absences and unexcused absences.
    • Unexcused absences are when a member does not notify a leader that he/she will not be at a meeting.
    • Excused absences are when a member notifies a leader that he/she will be unable to attend a meeting due to school events, church events, or other.
    • A member cannot count six excused meetings as six meetings attended.
    • Make-ups for excused meeting will be determined by individual clubs.
    • Canceled/rescheduled meetings shall not count as an absence if the member would have been at the regularly scheduled meeting or cannot attend the rescheduled meeting. Clubs will still need to hold six regular meetings.
  6. Each year clubs will be audited to maintain sound fiscal management. Clubs must turn in required financial records to the Extension Office. Each January all clubs will complete the PSU Financial Report.
  7. Each year all clubs will turn in their affirmative action/All Reasonable Efforts material. Clubs will turn this into the Extension Office by the designated date.

Article III Volunteer Leaders

  1. All adults who wish to become a 4-H volunteer leader must be screened by the Extension Office before participating in 4-H events.
  2. All adults must obtain both criminal and child abuse clearances (Act 33 and 34), and the FBI check at their own expense before working with children. Or they will complete the necessary forms to allow Penn State University to complete background checks.
  3. A person no longer age eligible for 4-H must wait one year from the time they leave 4-H until they apply to be a 4-H leader. They are encouraged to notify the Extension Office of their desire to become a leader and attend leader training during the year of waiting.
  4. All leaders will complete a volunteer enrollment form each year following the same timeframe as set for members.
  5. If a leader is inactive for a year, they must repeat the screening process including clearances.
  6. All 4-H Volunteer Leaders shall adhere to the 4-H leader’s code of conduct at all 4-H events. Infractions will be handled by the Extension staff.
  7. All leaders must attend a training yearly.
  8. Leaders must follow the same 60% attendance requirement that members must follow. They must notify another leader if they are unable to attend a meeting.

Article IV Fundraising

All fundraising events must be approved by the County Extension Office. Forms for fundraising events must be turned in to the Extension Office 30 days before the scheduled event for approval. Fund raisers may be canceled after approval – Extension Office must be notified.

Article V General Operation

All county owned educational materials (books, videos, games, etc.) are a county resource and will be housed in the County Extension Office for all clubs and members to access by a library check-out system.

Article VI State Operational Procedures

These guidelines have been established to meet specific needs within District 3. There are also Penn State 4-H Program Policies and Procedures that must be followed.

Established 2/2/95, Revised 1/2009, Revised 9/2012