Section 15: 4-H Role in County & State Fairs

15.1 4-H Rules for County/State Fairs:  Policy

Nebraska Extension holds responsibility in cooperation with the 4-H Council and/or Ag Society/Fair Board for developing 4-H rules at all 4-H county fairs and 4-H events. These rules must be consistent with the 4-H mission, affirmative action regulations, age definitions, enrollment, methods of participation, and place of residence.

4-H staff in charge of the 4-H program is responsible for communicating with and upholding State and National 4-H policy to the 4-H Council and the Ag Society/Fair Board.

Local 4-H fair rules must be in compliance with and will not supersede State and National 4-H policy; however, fairs may design local classes and events that enhance the educational mission of the 4-H program. For example: Classes and events designed for Clover Kids must not be competitive at any level in the organization.

Though beginning level classes do not qualify for state fair competition, counties can identify beginning level or county only classes that are different than state fair classes/events for competition at the local level.

In addition, fair rules should strive to offer programs that are:

  • In the best interest of all youth
  • Educational
  • Inclusive to all families
  • Fun

Counties should establish a grievance process in conjunction with the local 4-H Council and/or Ag Society/Fair Board. For information on developing a grievance process see: (Section 2.7, Grievances and Protests.)

15.2 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with County Fair Board or Ag Society  Guidelines

The most common source of complaints is the competitive process related to a county fair. As a result, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was developed, outlining the roles and responsibilities of County Extension Boards and County Agricultural Societies/Fair Boards. This MOU has many components, including an agreement that Nebraska Extension will have a grievance procedure and that County Agricultural Societies/Fair Boards will abide by those procedures. This MOU provides University Legal Counsel the documentation necessary for telling a client or a client’s attorney that the venue for their complaints regarding a county fair is the Appeals and Protest Procedures as established by the County 4-H Council and approved by the County Agricultural Society/Fair Boards.

Benefits of a MOU:

  • It clarifies partner roles and defines responsibilities.
  • It enhances communication.
  • It is a formal mechanism to give the Fair Board permission to use the 4-H Name and Emblem to advertise sanctioned 4-H events.
  • It provides a clear protocol for communications, especially when differences occur.

When a MOU does not exist:

  • It is the responsibility of the Unit Administrator to make sure the 4-H Name and Emblem and the mission of 4-H are properly used.

Updating the MOU:

  • Periodic review is recommended, or
  • When major reorganization occurs by one or more of the parties involved, or
  • When suggested by Nebraska Extension administration or legal counsel.

Legend

Policy  Policy: not negotiable    Guidelines  Guidelines: strongly recommended    Procedure  Procedure: recommended implementation steps