Section 17: Codes of Conduct

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:

I will be trustworthy. I will be worthy of trust, honor, and confidence. I will be a model of integrity by doing the right thing even when the cost is high. I will be honest in all my activities. I will keep my commitments by attending all sessions of the planned event. If I am not feeling well or have a schedule conflict, I will inform my chaperone or a person in charge. I will be in the assigned area (e. g. club meeting room, building, dorm) at all times. Pennsylvania 4-H does not permit dishonesty by lying, cheating, deception, or omission.

I will be respectful. I will show respect, courtesy, and consideration to everyone, including myself, other program participants, and those in authority. I will act and speak respectfully. I will treat program areas, lodging areas, and transportation vehicles with respect. I will not use vulgar or abusive language or cause physical harm. I will appreciate diversity in skill, gender, ethnicity, and ability. Pennsylvania 4-H does not tolerate statements or acts of discrimination or prejudice.
I will be responsible. I will be responsible, accountable, and self-disciplined in the pursuit of excellence. I will live up to high expectations so I can be proud of my work and conduct. I will be on time to all program events. I will be accountable by accepting responsibility for my choices and actions. I will abide by the established program curfew. I will be responsible for any damage, theft, or misconduct in which I participate.
I will be fair. I will be just, fair, and open. I will participate in events fairly by following the rules, not taking advantage of others, and not asking for special exceptions.
I will be caring. I will be caring in my relationships with others. I will be kind and show compassion for others. I will treat others the way I want to be treated. I will show appreciation for the efforts of others. I will help members in my group to have a good experience by striving to include all participants.
I will be a good citizen. I will be a contributing and law-abiding citizen. I will be respectful of the environment and contribute to the greater good. I will not use alcohol and drugs and will refrain from the use of tobacco or tobacco products in the presence of youth.
SM CHARACTER COUNTS! Is a service mark of the CHARACTER COUNTS Coalition, a project of the Josephson Institute of Ethics.

4-H Volunteer Code of Conduct

The Pennsylvania 4-H youth program prides itself on providing quality educational programs for youth. The primary purpose of this code of conduct is to provide quality leadership and to ensure the safety and well-being of all participants. The opportunity to work with youth is a privileged position of trust that should be held only by those who are willing to demonstrate behaviors that fulfill this trust. For these reasons the following behavior guidelines are provided for volunteers.
The Pennsylvania State University is committed to providing a safe environment for all youth participating in activities offered through the University. All Penn State youth programs including 4-H have policies in place to ensure the safety of youth participating in our programs and to ensure safety is not compromised.

Volunteers will:
• Accept their responsibility to represent county and Pennsylvania 4-H youth programs with dignity and pride by being positive role models for youth.
• Conduct themselves in a courteous, respectful manner; refrain from use of foul language; exhibit good sportsmanship; and provide positive role models for youth.
• Obey the laws of the locality, state and nation.
• Respect, adhere to, and enforce the rules, policies, and guidelines established by the county/district extension office, the State 4-H office and Pennsylvania State University.
• As an Authorized Adult ensure no one-on-one contact with youth including electronic communication. There must be two or more adults (another Authorized Adult, parent, or legal guardian) present during activities where
minors are present.
• Understand that Penn State 4-H is committed to providing a safe learning environment with the help and support of caring adults that promotes mutual respect, tolerance and acceptance. Bullying including verbal, physical, and cyber bullying are prohibited.
• Make all reasonable effort to ensure that 4-H youth programs do not discriminate on the basis of age, color, disability, gender, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status.
• Recognize that abuse by physical or verbal means, failure to comply with equal opportunity and anti-discrimination laws, sexual harassment, or a criminal act is not an acceptable.
• Treat animals humanely and teach 4-H members to provide appropriate animal care.
• Be mindful of the appropriate use of cameras, imaging, and digital devices and respect privacy of 4-H members by prohibiting use of such devices where privacy is expected.
• Refrain from the use of tobacco or tobacco products, this includes the use of electronic cigarettes, personal vaporizers, or electronic nicotine delivery systems that simulate tobacco smoking, in the presence of youth. Youth are influenced by role models and 4-H volunteers should reinforce the health "H" by being positive, healthy role models.
• Accept the responsibility to promote and support 4-H to develop an effective county, state, and national program.
• Permit the operation of machinery, vehicles, and other equipment in a responsible manner with a valid operator’s license and legally required insurance coverage.
Volunteers will NOT:
• Consume or possess alcohol or illegal drugs in the presence of 4-H member.
• Provide alcohol or illegal drugs to a 4-H member.
• Provide prescription drugs or any medication to any 4-H member unless specifically authorized in writing by the parent or guardian as being required for the 4-H member’s care or emergency treatment.
• Process or use fireworks, guns and other weapons at 4-H programs, meeting, and activities. (This does not refer to the equipment used in authorized shooting sports practice or competition.)
• At overnight events, enter a minor’s room or bathroom without another adult present.
• Make sexual materials in any form available to 4-H members or assist them in any way in gaining access to such materials.

Volunteer Code Agreement included in PDF below must be signed and returned to extension educator.

Pennsylvania 4-H Member Code of Conduct

The Pennsylvania State University is committed to providing a safe environment for all youth participating in activities offered through the University. All Penn State youth programs including 4-H have policies in place to ensure the safety of youth participating in our programs and to ensure safety is not compromised.

4-H members participating in or attending club, county, regional, district, state, and national programs, activities, events, shows, and contests sponsored for youth by the 4-H Youth Development Program of Penn State Extension are required to conduct themselves according to the Pennsylvania 4-H Code of Conduct. The code operates in conjunction with the Pennsylvania 4-H Youth Development Program Behavioral Expectations and the rules and regulations of the specific activity.

Adults attending or participating in 4-H youth activities are expected to conduct themselves according to the code and to assist and support youth in their efforts to adhere to the code.

The following are not permitted at 4-H sponsored programs, activities, or events:

• Possession, consumption or distribution of alcohol.
• Possession, use, or distribution of illegal drugs.
• Possession or use of all tobacco products, this includes the use of electronic cigarettes, personal vaporizers, or
electronic nicotine delivery systems that simulate tobacco smoking.
• Violence, including, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, physical, verbal, emotional, or mental abuse of another person.
• Sexual activity.
• Boys in girls' rooms and girls in boys' rooms or lodging areas.
• Cheating or misrepresenting project work.
• Theft, destruction, or abuse of property.
• Violation of an established curfew.
• Unauthorized absence from programsite.
• Bullying of any kind including verbal, physical, and cyber bullying (social media).
• The inappropriate use of camera, imaging, and digital devices where privacy is expected.
• Unethical or inhumane treatment of animals.
• Possession or use of a weapon. (This does not refer to the equipment used in authorized shooting sports practice or competition.)
• Possession or use of a harmful object with the intent to hurt or intimidate others.
• Other conduct deemed inappropriate for the youth development program by an event chair; a designated Penn State
Extension Educator, faculty, or staff member; or a 4-H volunteer leader.
• Public displays of affection are not appropriate.
• Possession or use of fireworks.

Youth attending 4-H events on the University Park campus must abide by all University regulations. While attending and participating in an on campus event, the operation of a motor vehicle is prohibited. Parking of vehicles must be in accordance with University parking regulations. Misuse or damage of University property is unacceptable. Charges will be assessed against those participants who are responsible for damages or misusing University property.

If the code is violated, the following steps may be taken:

• The adult chaperone for the youth involved in the violation (Extension Educator or 4-H leader) will be made aware of the situation.
• The parent(s) may be called and arrangements made for transportation home at the parent's expense.
• The 4-H'er(s) may be barred from participating in 4-H.
• When a violation occurs at a competitive event, 4-H members may be disqualified from the contest and be ineligible for any awards. Competition in later contests may also be barred. This will be determined by the event
chair; a designated Penn State Extension Educator, faculty, or staff member; or a 4-H volunteer leader. Disqualification of an individual may impact participation of an entire team.
• If any laws are violated, the case may be referred to the police.
• All chaperones are responsible for all youth at an event.

The 4-H name and emblem is to be used appropriately at all times. It may only be used to promote the 4-H program and is not permitted for use for personal gain. For information and guidelines on appropriate use of the 4-H name and emblem reference VIP Fact Sheet 14 on the PA 4-H website at:

All youth club members should sign the agreement included in the PDF below and return to club leader.

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Section 17: Codes of Conduct


V.I.P. Facts 17

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