4-H Frequently Asked Questions
What is 4-H?
4-H is a voluntary, informal education program for young people ages 8-18.
4-H Cloverbuds is a program for younger children who are 5-7 years old.
Isn't 4-H just for farm kids?
No! 4-H is for all young people, regardless of where they live, what their
backgounds are, or what interests them. Today in Illinois most 4-H members
are from urban areas and they participate in projects to learn many different
What do the H's stand for?
Head, Heart, Hands and Health. Members pledge:
"My head to clearer thinking
My heart to greater loyalty
My hands to larger service
My health the better living, for my club, my community, my country and my world."
What are the 4-H emblem, motto,
A green four-leaf clover with a white "H" on each clover leaf
is the 4-H emblem. Green and white are the colors. The 4-H motto is "To
Make the Best Better." The 4-H slogan is "Learn By Doing."
Who conducts 4-H?
The Illinois 4-H program is conducted by University of Illinois Extension
at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. County and state
programs are directed by Extension staff who train and support volunteers
who work with 4-H members. Offices are located in every county in
Illinois. An Extension Council comprised of local residents serves
in an advisory capacity to the Extension staff to coordinate, organize,
and plan programming in the unit.
Who funds 4-H?
University of Illinois Extension receives funding from the United
States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the state of Illinois, and
local county boards. A variety of private donors also fund Extension.
What does it cost to join?
4-H has a program fee for all 4-H Cloverbud, Community Club, and Special Interest 4-H members. This fee will be collected annually by the local Extension office. There may also be costs for project manuals and some 4-H activities or events.
Why do young people like
4-H provides a chance to learn new things, develop new skills, travel
to new places, experience new situations, make new friends, and most
importantly have lots of fun.
How do you join?
Call the Extension unit office in
your county or contact a local 4-H club to see if there is room in
a club near you. If not, five interested young people, with an adult
or two to help them, may start a new club.
What is a club?
A club is a group of five or more young people ages 8 to 18, guided
by an adult leader. Clubs meet for at least six sessions during the
year and have a planned program. Members elect officers and each
member chooses one or more projects. Each club has a constitution.
A club may explore a single subject or several subjects. 4-H members
elect club officers, conduct their own business, work together on
community service activities, meet new friends, and most important,
have lots of fun.
How often do clubs meet?
Most clubs meet once or twice a month all year long, depending on
what the group wants to do. The 4-H year runs from September 1 to
August 31. Sometimes members may have to be enrolled in a project
by a certain time to be eligible for a certain activity such as the
Where do 4-H clubs meet?
A 4-H club may be organized on a community or neighborhood basis
and use local facilities or members' homes. Also it can be organized
within a school using the school's facilities, time, and staff. Any
place large enough and convenient for the club members is a good
When do clubs meet and how
long do meetings last?
This depends on the group. Many community clubs meet for an hour
or two after school, in the evening, or on Saturday. The most important
thing is to have a regular time to get together. School clubs may
meet for an hour or two during the school day.
How big should a club be?
This depends on the age of the members, the places they have to meet,
and the leadership available. The ideal club is big enough to have
fun together, but small enough for everyone to feel part of the group.
The average Illinois 4-H club is 10 to 20 members.
Should 4-H clubs have dues?
This depends on their need for money. If a club wants money for some
activities, it usually charges dues or has fundraising activities.
What are 4-H projects?
4-H projects are challenging, but practical, planned courses of study
with learning experiences centered around a specific subject. Members
usually work on a project (subject area) for a year. Hands-on, learn-by-doing
involvement is the most important aspect of a project. Making, growing,
caring for, observing, and participating are all involved in 4-H
projects. Over 175 projects are currently available in the Illinois
4-H program. The Illinois Clover lists projects available
What does a 4-H project
It varies. Members are responsible for the cost of supplies for projects.
Some projects might use supplies from around the house while others
might invest hundreds of dollars in their project. The cost of the
project should be realistic to the family situation.
Are 4-H members expected
to do their own project work?
Yes, with help. Members are expected to select at least one project
and complete one or more learning experiences related to the project
during the year. 4-H is a "learn by doing" program. Leaders,
junior leaders, and parents may tell or show members how, but members
are expected to learn to do things themselves.
Are projects done individually
or as a group?
Both. It varies among projects and among clubs. Some projects, like
breads or visual arts, are more fun done as a group. Others, like
making a dress or growing a garden, will be done individually. Some
clubs have several project leaders and do specific project work at
club meetings while others rely on parents and others to help members
What is an exhibit?
An exhibit is an object or display designed to show something that
the members have accomplished. Ideally it motivates members 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 in a project.
Self-recognition and self-satisfaction for having completed a project
are important rewards. A ribbon is only one measure of success.
What do 4-H clubs do at
4-H clubs usually participate in four general kinds of activities
during the meeting. They have a business meeting, special interest
programs, project work, and recreation or social activities. Clubs
may have a little business to conduct, may work on their projects
for a while, and then play a game or two. Sometimes the whole meeting
is devoted to one topic.
What are 4-H leaders?
Volunteer leaders are the backbone of the 4-H program. They are adults
who work voluntarily with a group of 4-H members. Volunteers go through
a youth protection application and screening process before they
are enrolled as leaders. Additionally, volunteers receive training
in skills they will need to become successful 4-H volunteers.
Are there different kinds
There are three general categories of local 4-H volunteers: organizational
leaders, project leaders, and activity leaders. Organizational leaders
guide the overall organization of the club, help it function smoothly,
and maintain communications among the member families and between
the club and the Extension unit office. Project leaders work with
members enrolled in a specific project or project area, assisting
them to plan and carry out experiences that will help them reach
their learning goals in the project. Activity leaders work with members
in planning and carrying out specific activities for the club as
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 to meet the interests
that 4-H members have.
How many leaders should
a 4-H club have?
That depends on the size of the club and the age of the members.
At least two are recommended. The average club has 3 to 5 leaders.
Where would one learn how
to be a 4-H leader?
The Extension unit office is the first point of contact. The local
staff usually includes a unit leader, community worker, and secretary.
Extension educators are also available to support 4-H volunteers.
After completing the screening process, the volunteer would be enrolled
and placed on the 4-H leaders' mailing list. Orientation would be
provided. Leaders are invited to special training meetings and provided
with the materials needed to conduct a 4-H club. An experienced leader
nearby may also help with questions.
What's expected of parents?
Children need parental encouragement to get them started in 4-H and
to keep them involved in the program in later years. Parents can
Sharing - provide encouragement and take interest in 4-H
projects and activities. Listen, look, and offer suggestions, but
avoid the temptation to "take over" and do things. Children
learn by their mistakes as well as successes.
Preparing - assist by helping children understand the
value of doing projects, having duties in the club, and following
through on responsibilities as expected by others.
Being there - Children gain more from 4-H by attending
meetings regularly and getting involved in 4-H activities. Parents
are welcome at meetings and are encouraged to stay and observe.
Lend a hand whenever possible. However, remember that 4-H clubs
are for kids.
Caring - arrange to participate whenever possible. Parents'
presence shows the child that what he or she is doing is very important.
How do I learn more about
4-H once my child joins?
New Kids in the Clover is a series of newsletters that
4-H families receive in the first year to help explain more about
4-H activities and programs throughout the year. In addition, ask
questions of the club organizational leader, the Extension unit office,
or other parents and members.