Section 6: 4-H Council Meeting Guidelines

The 4-H Council meeting should be run in an efficient, orderly manner. As a member of an organized group you need to know at least the basic principles of parliamentary procedure in order to share in carrying on its regular business.

The chair or executive committee should decide at the beginning of the year or term or office how council meetings will be conducted. Will formal parliamentary procedures be followed or will the group use a consensus decision process?

  • Formal parliamentary procedures: Robert’s Rule of Order or other procedure guidelines are followed. Formal motions and a second are required before a topic is discussed and action taken.
  • Consensus: Informal discussion regarding an issue or topic until the group reaches consensus on action to be taken. A record of the decision should be noted in the minutes or a motion confirming the decision that was voted on.

The order of business or agenda remains the same regardless of the decision making procedures used by the group.

The agenda is prepared by the Extension Staff in consultation with the Council President. Items may be added to agenda prior the start of the meeting. Give members an opportunity to add agenda items if time allows.

  1. Call to Order: the chair gains attention by standing or pounding the gavel and saying the meeting will now come to order.
  2. Opening Ceremonies (if appropriate): 4-H Pledge/Pledge of Allegiance, an inspirational message or thought for the day may be used. Keep it brief and relate it to the purpose of the meeting.
  3. Approval of Minutes: The secretary will read the minutes from the last meeting. Are there any corrections or additions to the minutes as read? Any changes are noted by the secretary. After a pause the chair declares, if there are no further corrections to the minutes they will stand approved as read.
  4. Officer Reports: The chair calls for a treasurer’s report and other officer reports as appropriate.
  5. Committee Reports: Reports may be given by active committees that have progress or status of interest. The executive committee will report meetings conducted without full membership attendance. Standing and special committees report progress or recommended action. The person delivering the report will initiate the desired action by saying Imovethe acceptance of the report orI move the specific action to be taken by the Council.
  6. Educational Program: attention each month should be given to educating the Council on a program, policy, partner, delivery method, etc
  7. Unfinished Business: Minutes from previous meetings will indicate any unfinished business. The chair, officers or the group may decide if the timing is appropriate to deal with unfinished business.
  8. New Business: New business to be brought before the group may be proposed by the officers, council members, and staff or by 4-H constituents.
  9. Announcements: The date and location of the next meeting, social activities and other items of interest are announced to the members.
  10. Adjournment: The chair will declare the meeting adjourned by saying the meeting is adjourned. A vote is not taken.

Simple Parliamentary Procedure

Basic Principles

  1. Procedures outlined in the Council constitution and bylaws must be followed.
  2. Only one item of business is discussed at a time. The item under discussion must be disposed of before the next item is considered. Examples: Reports are accepted; motions may be passed, postponed, tabled or referred to a committee.
  3. Only one person may speak at a time. A speaker must be recognized by the chair and may continue until finished. The chair may impose a time limit if discussion tends to be lengthy.
  4. Council members have an obligation to inform themselves of issues or items of business before voting. The chair may designate a committee or individuals to bring information to the group.
  5. Council members have an obligation to hear and consider all aspects of an issue before voting or taking action. They should work to be objective and unbiased with primary consideration given to youth of the community, the volunteers and the program. Encourage youth volunteers on the Council to express their feelings about issues.

Steps in Making and Carrying Out a Motion

  1. The member addresses the chair.
  2. The chair recognizes the member.
  3. The member makes the motion. I move that.... Motions should be made in the affirmative to avoid the confusion that comes from a negative vote on a negative motion. For instance, you should say, I move that the Council sponsor a picnic, not, I move that the Council does not sponsor a picnic.In the latter case those voting for the motion would be voting against the picnic and those voting “no” would be voting for it. The proper form is, I move that...; not, “I make a motion that,” or “I move you.” Making a motion is equivalent to saying, “I propose that” or “I think we should do so and so.”
  4. The motion is seconded. All ordinary motions must be seconded to show at least two people want the subject discussed. Motions should be seconded promptly. It is not necessary to be recognized by the chair, but say simply, I second the motion. If there is no second, the chair says, The motion is lost for lack of a second.
  5. The chair states the motion. When the motion has been seconded, the chair restates it so everyone will understand exactly what is proposed.
  6. The chair calls for discussion and allows members to express opinions or ask questions.
  7. When all members have spoken or the chair thinks all sides of the question have been discussed, the chair may say, Are you ready for the question?Both affirmative and negative votes must be taken. The chair says, All in favor of the motion, which is.....say aye. All opposed say no.If the vote is unclear, the chair may call for a vote by the raising of hands or standing.
  8. The chair announces the result.

Subsidiary Motions

Sometimes in order to dispose of a main motion, it is necessary to make a subsidiary or secondary motion. These motions must be voted on before the main motion can be discussed further. The most common motions of this class are to amend, to refer to a committee and to table.

To Amend

A motion may be amended by adding, deleting or changing. A motion to amend must have a second before discussion. Discussion following an amendment is restricted to the amendment only. The amendment must be voted upon before discussion returns to the main motion. The proper form is I move to amend the motion by...

To Refer to a Committee

At times a proposal or motion requires additional study before a good decision can be made. To save the group time, the proposal can be referred to a committee for study and recommendation to the group. Referral can be made to a standing committee if the topic is related to the responsibility of the committee or a special committee may be appointed by the Council chair. The proper form is I move the ...motion be referred to...committee for study (or action). You may want to impose a time limit to the committee.

To Table

Sometimes it seems wise to lay aside temporarily some item of business that is before the group. The correct form is, Imove to table. This motion must be seconded. It may not be debated or amended. The chair must put the motion to table as soon as it is seconded. At any time during the session or during the following session, the motion to take it from the table may be made. I move this motion ... be raised from the table.This motion must be carried by a 2/3 vote.

When to Meet

Four to five meetings are recommended a year. Set meeting dates for the entire year. Call for agenda items from members two to three weeks before the meeting. Communicate the agenda to members prior to the meeting. Allot time for discussion and list the action desired.

Arrangements for Effective 4-H Council Meetings

Paying attention to arrangements can make the difference between a productive meeting and one that the members dread attending. Think about the following tips for making meetings pleasant. Use these tips as a checklist when planning your council meetings.

  1. Is there enough space for each member to work and is the arrangement conducive to discussion?
  2. Is the meeting place accessible to everyone including the handicapped? Is there parking space and adequate rest room facilities?
  3. Are needed materials on hand: pencils, paper, audio-visual equipment, extension cords, handouts, etc.?
  4. If a meal/food is to be served, has adequate preparation been made?
  5. Is the meeting room free from distractions?
  6. Is the meeting being held on the regularly scheduled date? If not, have notices been sent out far enough in advance? (Meeting times seldom should be rescheduled. Changes are disruptive to the Council and to individual members.)
  7. Do all members take turns hosting the meeting?
  8. Is the location rotated around the county or accountability region(s)?