4-H Policies (V.I.P.)

Facts for Very Important People, 4-H Leaders and Penn State Extension Volunteers.

We are pleased that you are interested in learning more about the Pennsylvania 4-H Youth Development program and in becoming a 4-H volunteer.

For more than 100 years, Pennsylvanians have relied on Penn State Extension for up-to-date information and new ways to solve individual and community problems. Extension programs are funded cooperatively by the U. S. Department of Agriculture and state and county governments.

Helping young people become self-directed, productive, and contributing members of a diverse society.

4-H membership is open to all youth between the ages of 5 and 18 without regard to ancestry, color, disability or handicap, national origin, race, religious creed, sex, sexual orientation, or place of residence.

In 1991, Penn State Extension began a volunteer screening process to provide a safe environment for youth participating in its programs.

The following information was prepared by the Risk and Volunteer Management Coordinator to inform you about the liability insurance coverage provided by Penn State Extension for 4-H and Extension volunteers and 4-H members.

Volunteers must obtain written permission from parents before transporting 4-H members or other youth in personal or commercial vehicles to any activity or event, including club field trips and activities and county, regional, or state activities. In addition, written parental permission is required for all volunteers anytime they are transporting youth including to and from regular club or group meetings and activities.

It is the responsibility of the Extension Educator to see that all programs and events are adequately supervised, chaperoned and appropriate standards followed. The following are minimum standards.

Protecting Youth & Volunteers - Reporting Child Abuse

Volunteers are invaluable resources to The Pennsylvania State University and Penn State Extension. Volunteers are defined as members of the team who give time and expertise without receiving or expecting monetary pay. They do this to support the mission of the organization, to help others, and to reach personal goals that include educational opportunities. To ensure the safety of youth and to provides a positive learning experience for your, volunteers are expected to abide by the volunteer code of conduct.

It is important for volunteers to recognize that they are representatives of Penn State Extension and the University. Therefore, they can incur personal legal liability, as well as liability for the University by their actions and behaviors. The sexual harassment definition and information in this brochure refers to all University sponsored 4-H programs, activities and events.

The principles of inclusion and diversity are core values in the College of Agriculture Sciences, the home of Penn State Extension. We respect differences in people, ideas, programs, and partnerships. For Penn State Extension, these values guide the development and delivery of our educational programming efforts. Civil rights legislation simply reinforces those values.

Social media provide powerful tools for communication – to both share information about our programs and engage in conversation with each other and outside parties. These guidelines outline expectations for communicating online on behalf of Pennsylvania 4-H county programs.

4-H youth development programs are created and implemented by Cooperative Extension Services through land-grant institutions to carry out responsibilities under the Smith-Lever Act. The 4-H Name and Emblem are a Federal Mark, protected by 18 USC 707, and intended only for use within the United States. The 4-H National Headquarters, at USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is responsible for the proper use of the clover.

Per USDA policy all usage of the 4-H Name and Emblem must be for educational or character building purposes, uphold the dignity of the 4-H Name, and provide a benefit to the 4-H Program. The Cooperative Extension Service (CES) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have a legal and ethical responsibility to ensure the “public trust” in the 4-H program. In each state, the land-grant institution’s State Cooperative Extension offices are responsible for any 4-H Name and Emblem use. In Pennsylvania, the Director of Penn State Extension has that authority. In addition, the Pennsylvania State University has fiscal and fiduciary responsibility for 4-H clubs and affiliated organizations that operate within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

A goal of the 4-H Youth Development Program of Penn State Extension is to provide opportunities for children and youth to develop character. Pennsylvania 4-H supports the CHARACTER COUNTS!SM six pillars of character: TRUSTWORTHINESS, RESPECT, RESPONSIBILITY, FAIRNESS, CARING, and CITIZENSHIP. In order to assure that the 4-H Youth Development Program of Penn State Extension provides positive environments for all individuals to learn and grow, participants agree to abide by these expectations of behavior:

Every volunteer has the right...

As a 4-H Volunteer, it is important that you understand what will be provided in the way of assistance from the extension staff and also what is expected of you as a volunteer. The following outlines information in an agreement that you may be asked to sign if you decide to volunteer—and we hope you do!

This role description is intended to help make your job as an organization leader easier. An organization leader is responsible for coordinating and managing a local 4-H club so that it functions smoothly. She/he works with and through others to help club members achieve goals and accomplish tasks. The more the club members, teen leaders, adult leaders, and others in the community get involved in different phases of the club's program, the stronger and more satisfying the experience will be.

This role description is intended to help make your job as a 4-H project leader easier. A project leader is responsible for training 4-H members, parents, or special interest groups within the local club in 4-H projects available to them. In addition, this individual will provide instruction on the proper procedure for completing a quality 4-H project and record book.

This role description is intended to help make your job as activity leader easier. An activity leader is responsible for providing leadership for adults and 4-H members in a specific 4-H project or activity. By helping other leaders with a project or activity, he/she enables them to guide youth in developing skills in certain program areas. He/she obtains, distributes, and uses literature pertaining to the activities and programs being offered. The activity leader also prepares for and participates in community activities and events. He/she is aware of county 4-H programs and events that can supplement the local club's educational program.

This role description is intended to help make your job as committee member easier. A committee member is responsible for assisting with the planning of the 4-H and youth development program. An effective planning process will result in a high quality 4-H and youth development program.

We're glad your child is involved in 4-H and we would like to invite you and your family to become a 4-H family. You, your child, and the rest of your family will learn and have fun in the 4-H program. Boys and girls who have the interest and support of their families have a special 4-H experience.

This fact sheet is intended to help you design your first 4-H meeting with group members. The goal is to involve all members in making decisions; including activities, goals, and project(s).

A key to a successful 4-H meeting is planning. Identifying what will be included at the meeting and who will be responsible for each part of the meeting is very important. Officers, a planning committee, or teen leaders could assist with developing a meeting agenda and recruiting different people to carry out the various tasks. This sheet is designed to help you get organized and plan before every meeting.

Good meetings take place in a warm friendly atmosphere. Good meetings let members become involved and express their ideas. Business sessions need to be conducted efficiently. The successful program has a variety of activities that are educational and fun. In the PDF published below you will find some ideas for the different parts of 4-H meetings. Your group will have many additional ideas about things to do in 4-H.

New volunteers must feel they are contributing to the community and the organization. Various opportunities for volunteers that will help make them feel useful and give them a sense of accomplishment are listed here. From your experience, you may be able to add to this list.