Section 2: Nebraska 4-H Policy

2.1 The 4-H Policy:  Policy

The 4-H Policy provides a consistent framework for 4-H programs throughout the state. The Policy Handbook is a guide for the management of these programs in Nebraska. Policy is created to ensure that 4-H programming is consistent, fair and legal.

2.1.1 Failure to follow policy

  1. Loss of authorization to use the 4-H name and emblem as deemed appropriate by University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension Administration.
  2. Dismissal from the 4-H event or activity as deemed appropriate by Nebraska Extension faculty, staff, or administration.
  3. Dismissal from the 4-H program as deemed appropriate by Nebraska Extensions Administration.

2.2 Approval of Nebraska 4-H Policy:  Policy

The policy has been approved by Nebraska Extension Administration and is the official policy of Nebraska 4-H Youth Development. Extension faculty on the 4-H Policy Committee developed the policies in this handbook. The committee represents Nebraska Extension 4-H. The committee continually seeks ideas, input and feedback.

Accountability to the Policy: All Nebraska Extension faculty, staff, and volunteers and youth must adhere to these policies.

2.3 County versus State Policy:  Policy

All University and County Extension staff and volunteers representing Nebraska Extension have the responsibility to support and implement the Nebraska 4-H Policy. 4-H participants and families are responsible for following the policy.

Policies of the local 4-H Council will not contradict, violate or supersede the Nebraska Extension or National 4-H policies. The following questions will determine if county policies are consistent with the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, national and state 4-H policies:

Does this rule contradict state and/or national policy? Does the rule discriminate against a 4-H member or volunteer? Does the rule honor the role of 4-H as the premiere youth educational organization? Are we keeping youth first? Are there any special circumstances? In 10 years, what difference would it make?

2.4 Essential Elements / Positive Youth Development  Policy

4-H nationally and in Nebraska uses the Essential Elements of Positive Youth Development as the model for the program. The purpose of the Essential Elements is to guide professionals and adult volunteers who work with youth in understanding the importance of exposing youth to opportunities and experiences that are focused on the social, emotional and physical elements necessary for positive development. The National 4-H Essential Elements Team believe that the eight 4-H Essential Elements are central to young people becoming competent, contributing adults.

Each of the eight Essential Elements is vital to the growth and development of youth. It is the combination of these elements that creates a positive environment for youth development. When professionals and adult volunteers intentionally focusing on these elements, youth benefit from participating in hands‐on, experiential activities and events, feeling nurtured in a safe environment, mastering new skills and abilities, and knowing that they are contributing to their environment and communities in a positive way.

The Eight Essential Elements:

  1. Positive Relationship with a Caring Adult
  2. A Safe Emotional and Physical Environment
  3. An Inclusive Environment
  4. Engagement in Learning
  5. Opportunity for Mastery
  6. Opportunity to See Oneself as an Active Participant in the Future
  7. Opportunity for Self-Determination
  8. Opportunity to Value and Practice Service to Others

2.5 4-H Non-Discrimination Statements:  Policy

The following non-discrimination statements shall be placed on all 4-H correspondence, materials and publications: Extension is a Division of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln cooperating with the Counties and the United States Department of Agriculture. The 4-H Youth Development program abides with the nondiscrimination policies of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and the United States Department of Agriculture.

2.6 Core Values and Beliefs on Diversity and Inclusion:  Policy

Nebraska 4-H will uphold and embrace the policies and beliefs on diversity and inclusion of the University of Nebraska. The following statements are beliefs on diversity and inclusion from the University of Nebraska and were accessed from the following website: http://diversity.unl.edu/our-core-values-beliefs. The University of Nebraska Core Values may also be accessed from this web site.

At the University of Nebraska, we strive for excellence in all that we do. True excellence requires that each individual be able to work and learn in an atmosphere of respect, dignity and acceptance. Our commitment to diversity and inclusion requires each of us to continuously ensure our interactions be respectful, protect free speech and inspire academic freedom.

At the University of Nebraska (and thus in Nebraska 4-H),

  • We value equity, inclusion and dignity for all.
  • We strive for excellence and recognition that our differences make us stronger.
  • We respect and seek out inclusion of differences, realizing we can learn from each other.
  • We insist on a culture of respect, and recognize that words and actions matter. The absence of action and word also matter.
  • We believe in the freedom of speech, and encourage the expression of ideas and opinions, and we do not tolerate words and actions of hate and disrespect. We know how to share criticism of ideas with respect.
  • We all hare in the responsibilities to create a positive culture and to safeguard equity, inclusion, dignity, and respect for all. Each member of the University community – faculty, staff, and students – should be a role model for others. (This would include our 4-H volunteers, families, participants and members.)
  • We take action when we observe someone being treated unfairly or in a demeaning manner.

2.7 Code of Ethics:  Policy

The primary goals of the Nebraska 4-H Youth Development program are to help youth develop competency in their projects, confidence in themselves and others, connections in their community, life skills, and sound character. Adults are to help youth do what they are capable of doing, promote teamwork and leadership while helping 4-H members learn, and have fun. Everything an adult says and/or does should be consistent with positive youth development.

Nebraska Extension Staff and/or Volunteers will:

  1. Act to encourage and justify trust. Teach 4-H members the meaning and importance of trustworthiness.
  2. Treat members, parents, volunteers, Extension staff, judges and others with respect, courtesy and consideration. Avoid and prevent put-downs, insults, name calling, yelling and other verbal or non-verbal conduct likely to offend, hurt or set a bad example.
  3. Be informed about youth and their positive development. Fulfill responsibilities by striving to improve performance as Extension staff, volunteer and mentor of youth. Attend training sessions, seek out and use research-based resources and educational materials.
  4. Teach and model kindness and compassion for others. Recognize that all youth have skills and talents that can be used to help others and improve the community. Teach and demand teamwork and discourage selfishness.
  5. Teach and model fair-mindedness; be open to ideas, suggestions, and opinions of others.
  6. Make all reasonable efforts to ensure equal access to participation for all youth and adults, regardless of race, creed, color, sex, national origin or disability. Make all decisions fairly and treat all youth and adults with impartiality.
  7. Teach and model the importance of obeying laws and rules as an obligation of citizenship and obey the laws of the locality, state and nation.
  8. Promote the responsible treatment of animals and stewardship of the environment.
  9. Not use alcohol or any illegal substance while working with or when responsible for youth. Do not be under the influence while working with or when responsible for youth. Do not allow youth to do so while under your supervision.
  10. Not harming youth or adults in any way, whether through sexual harassment, physical force, verbal or mental abuse, neglect or other harmful behaviors.
  11. Provide a safe environment for youth to learn.

2.8 Grievances and Protest:  Policy

Differences in opinions are a part of life. To ensure consistency and fairness, a written grievance process is necessary to respond to and resolve 4-H issues and complaints in a manner that teaches good character, life skills and positive youth development.

2.8.1 State Fair Protest Committee Process  Policy

The respective superintendent has the authority to make appropriate decisions based on the 4-H State Fair Book. When needed, a committee shall be appointed to serve as a protest review group. The protest committee will meet when needed to act upon concerns. The protest committee will consist of members of the State Fair 4-H Management Team with the respective superintendent(s) involved in the situation as an ex-officio member.

To submit a protest the procedures listed below must be followed:

  • All protests must be submitted in writing.
  • All protests must be signed
  • The written protest must be submitted to the State Fair 4-H Management Team and must include:
    • Nature of concern(s).
    • Names of person(s) involved.
    • Situation and documentation.
    • Specific action, rule, etc., in question.
    • Recommendation for correction.
    • Additional person(s) committee may contact for further clarification.
    • Procedures and/or steps carried out by persons involved prior to submission of the protest to the State Fair 4-H Management Team.
  • The committee will review the written protest. They may discuss the situation with affected persons and show officials, including Nebraska State Fair management.
  • Recommendations will be developed, followed, and communicated both verbally and in writing to the group or individual affected.
  • In cases of protest, the exhibitor may be allowed to compete. Results of the competition will be subject to change based on the outcome of the protest process. This allows for smooth operation of the show and facilitates appropriate processing.
  • The State Fair 4-H Management Team reserves the right to withhold any award. The exhibitor may be excluded from the show if action warrants.
  • Protests will not be accepted after the exhibit or event/activity is completed/released.
  • Protests related to judges’ integrity, decisions, placings, or other evaluations will not be accepted.

2.8.2 State Fair Livestock  Procedure

Reference the State Fair Book for the grievance procedure for Nebraska State Fair.

2.8.3 State Event Protest Committee Process  Procedure

(Excluding State Fair & District/State Horse Shows)

The respective State Event Coordinator/Superintendent has the authority to make appropriate decisions based on the specific event guidelines. When needed, a committee shall be appointed to serve as a protest review group. They will meet when needed to act upon concerns.

To submit a protest, the procedures listed below must be followed:

  • All protests must be submitted in writing.
  • All protests must be signed.
  • The written protest must be submitted to the State Event Coordinator/Superintendents and must include:
    • Nature of concern(s)
    • Names of person(s) involved
    • Situation and documentation
    • Specific action, rule, etc., in question
    • Recommendations for correction
    • Additional persons committee may contact for further clarification
    • Procedures and/or steps carried out by persons involved prior to submission of the protest to the State Event Coordinator and Superintendents.
  • The committee will review the written protest. They may discuss the situation with affected persons and event officials.
  • Recommendations will be developed, followed, and communicated both verbally and in writing to the group or individual affected.
  • In cases of protest, the youth may be allowed to participate. Results of the event will be subject to change based on the outcome of the protest process. This allows for smooth operation of the event and facilitates appropriate processing.
  • The management reserves the right to withhold any award. The youth may be excluded from the event if action warrants.
  • Protests will not be accepted after the event/activity is completed/ released.
  • Protests related to judges’/officials’ integrity, decisions, placings, or other evaluations will not be accepted.

2.8.4 District and State 4-H Horse Show Protest Policy  Procedure

Any complaint/protest against participants must be submitted in writing with a $25 fee. The fee is refundable if the protest committee rules in favor of the 4-H’er submitting the request.

  • Protests must be submitted to the show superintendent or state personnel.
  • Protests must be submitted in writing and presented by the 4-H’er only. Protests made by anyone other than a 4-H’er will be considered invalid.
  • The decision of the judge is final. The protest committee will not reverse the placing of a class.
  • The exhibitor or horse and the reason for the protest being filed must be designated.
  • Protests will be made with the understanding that the protester’s name will be shared with the Protest Committee.
  • In case of protest, the exhibitor may be allowed to show, but the results of showing will be subject to change based on the outcome of the protest process. This allows for smooth operation of the show and facilitates appropriate processing.
  • Protests will not be accepted after completion of the show.

2.8.5 County Grievance Policy  Procedure

Counties should establish their own grievance procedure. Following are recommended procedures for the development of a county grievance policy. It is recommended that counties remain consistent with the process defined at the state level. A grievance may typically be filed around a competitive event, but other issues may arise in which this policy could be used.

  • The Extension Educator, together with the local 4-H Council and the local 4-H Council Protest Committee, has the authority to make appropriate decisions on local 4-H disputes. These decisions will be formulated using state policy and national directives as formulated by this policy or as dictated by law.
  • District and State 4-H Staff may provide resources to the situation when asked by the Extension Educator.
  • All protests must be submitted in writing
  • All protests must be signed by the protester.
  • The written protest must include:
    • Names of persons involved
    • Cause of complaint or appeal
    • Situation and documentation
    • Recommendations for correction
    • Specific action, rule, etc., in question
    • Additional persons the committee may contact for further clarification
    • Procedures and/or steps carried out by the person involved prior to submission of the protest to the Protest Committee.
  • Membership of the protest committee will be outlined in 4-H Council By-laws. Nebraska Extension faculty will be a member(s) of this committee.
  • Protests will not be accepted after the exhibit or event/activity is completed/released.
  • The protest will be acknowledged after receiving the written protest and will be responded to in a timely manner.
  • Protests related to judges’ integrity, decision, placings or other evaluations will not be accepted.
  • (Optional) A $50 deposit will accompany the written protest, which will be forfeited if the protester does not attend the protest resolution meeting. The deposit will be returned upon completion of the process.
  • The committee will review the written protest. They may call for a face-to-face meeting with affected persons and event leadership to discuss the situation and the official ruling. Recommendations will be developed, followed, and communicated both verbally and in writing to the individual or group affected.
  • Failure of the protester to attend the face-to-face meeting with the Protest Committee will result in no action and forfeiture of the deposit.
  • In cases of protest, the 4-H member/parent/leader may continue to participate. Results of participation will be subject to change based on the outcome of the protest process.
  • The Protest Committee and Event Leadership reserves the right to withhold any award. The 4-H member/parent/leader may be excluded from 4-H if action warrants.

2.8.6 On-the-Spot Decisions  Procedure

At times, difficult decisions may need to be made quickly and seemingly on the spot. Staff and volunteers can prepare for these situations by becoming familiar with national, state and local 4-H policies and procedures. There are times when a grievance committee is needed and times when it is appropriate for the Extension Staff or volunteer responsible for the event to make this decision. Points for consideration when these quick decisions may be needed are listed below.

  • Safety – Obviously, a quick decision is needed when someone’s safety or well-being is involved.
  • Positive Youth Development – Always keep the best interest of the youth and the integrity of the 4-H youth development program in the forefront when making quick decisions. How does the decision reflect the Essential Elements of Positive Youth Development?
  • Confidentiality – Be respectful of situations that may need to remain confidential.
  • Code of Conduct – Become familiar with the Code of Conduct for members and volunteers. When the code is intentionally and obviously being violated, action would need to be taken.
  • Time Sensitive – Does this situation truly need an “on the spot” decision? Although it may appear that a decision must be made on the spot, many times a decision can wait until you have the time to gather the necessary information to make an informed decision. Take the time to make the best decision you can.
  • Prior to making a time sensitive decision, gather as much information as you are able. Read your fairbook or contest rules carefully.
  • Use your committees whenever possible. Designate event or fair committees and use their expertise when making decisions.
  • Use the situation as a teaching opportunity for the youth or person involved.
  • Review the Decision - Take the time to review the situation and decision following the event. Are there actions you can take now to prevent a similar situation later?
  • Resources – Ask experienced staff for guidance and suggestions. Include your District 4-H Coordinator in difficult decisions allowing for coaching and transparency. If an issue escalates, include your Research & Extension Director and/or State 4-H Office administration.

Legend

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