Employee: Youth Protection Policies

Youth Activity Safety Policy

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln has a strong interest in protecting the safety of youth in all University-sponsored programs and events, including those offered by Nebraska Extension 4-H Youth Development. Therefore, in 2012, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln implemented a Youth Activity Safety Policy in order to provide a safe, educational and enjoyable activity/program experience for all participants. This policy provides minimum specific guidelines for activities sponsored by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The University reserves the right to discontinue an activity if it is found to be in violation of these policies.

The following information has been compiled to assist Nebraska Extension professionals as they work to abide by the policy:

Volunteer Application Info

The success of Nebraska 4-H relies on the generous contributions of thousands of volunteers each year. We appreciate each individual contribution and value the difference volunteers make in the lives of the youth we serve. That said, we bear a heavy responsibility ensuring that all of the volunteers we engage in 4-H youth development experiences are safe and positive adult role models for young people. Background checks, clear guidelines for youth work and the 4-H Volunteer Code of Conduct are all important elements in our volunteer screening process and critical in ensuring the safety of our youth, our volunteers and the Nebraska 4-H Organization.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has a strong interest in protecting the safety of youth at our University; therefore, in 2012, the University implemented a Youth Activity Safety Policy. This policy provides minimum specific guidelines for activities sponsored by Nebraska and for activities sponsored by other organizations but held at the University. As program providers, we are responsible for ensuring that the Youth Activity Safety Policy is followed in full and that our volunteers meet the expectations for service.

As a result, all volunteers must complete and meet a series of requirements based on their role to volunteer for Nebraska 4-H. To do so, all 4-H Volunteers must either annually enroll in 4HOnline or complete the 4-H Volunteer Activity Application appropriate for their role. In our system we define volunteers in one of two ways:

  • Activity Worker/Direct Volunteer: Includes staff, faculty, club leaders, lead teachers/presenters, student workers, summer interns, Teens as Teachers, chaperones, and any other adults and teens acting as direct supervisors or mentors to youth in a paid, unpaid or volunteer status, as part of a youth activity.
  • Activity Support Staff/Indirect Volunteer: Any person who provides support services for Youth Activities such as teaching assistants, superintendents, judges, food service, set-up crews, maintenance, and any other adults and teens providing indirect service as part of a youth activity.

Based on the volunteer role, the following steps will need to be taken and screening must be completed and approved prior to service:

  • Activity Worker/Direct Volunteer
    • Volunteer Screening (Criminal Background)
    • Sex Offender Registry
    • Activity Worker Guidelines Review
    • 4-H Code of Conduct
  • Activity Support Staff/Indirect Volunteer
    • Volunteer Screening (Activity Worker Application)
    • Sex Offender Registry
    • Activity Worker Guidelines Review
    • 4-H Code of Conduct

We appreciate the willingness of our volunteers to complete these processes and hope we can all agree they are essential to the interest of protecting our youth and our volunteers. For more information, see the Employee: Volunteer Activity Application page. More information about volunteering with Nebraska 4-H is available on the public Volunteer Resources page.

Sample Message

We greatly value our volunteers and they are essential to delivering the 4-H program. Updates to our volunteer management procedures will ensure that every volunteer who serves 4-H completes a screening relative to the role they serve. This is important not only to protect our youth, but also our staff, volunteers, stakeholder groups, and Nebraska Extension.

Two key factors driving this are:

  • Nebraska 4-H is committed to providing a safe and secure environment for all youth served by our program. 
  • In accordance with the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Youth Activity Safety Policy, we must ensure that 4-H volunteers do not have a criminal background that would disqualify the individual from serving and protect them as they work with young people.

There are two processes for ensuring that volunteers are eligible to provide a safe, positive, and nurturing environment for all youth involved in Nebraska 4-H programs. Please be assured that these screening procedures are confidential.

In addition to the screening protocols, we also ask each volunteer to review and sign the youth activity worker guidelines and sign the 4-H Volunteer Code of Conduct. The activity worker guidelines ensure all volunteers are aware of the responsibility of their role and the code of conduct establishes the standard expectations for participating in a 4-H experience.

We appreciate your willingness to complete this protocol prior to your service as a 4-H volunteer. Again, the safety of our youth is our highest priority and we hope you'll share in our commitment to providing a safe and secure environment for all youth served in our program.

Teen Volunteers

Teens volunteer in a variety of ways in Nebraska 4-H. To ensure the safety of all of our youth participants, Nebraska 4-H requires a volunteer screening form for any teen that serves in a direct teaching or youth care role.

If teens are serving as an aid at an event where an adult is providing primary instruction or volunteering in a way that doesn't put them in a teaching/youth care role, they would not need to be screened. Examples of when screening would be required: camp counselors, workshop instructors, or anytime they are providing supervision/care for minors in the absence of a screened adult volunteer or staff.

Though a background check is not required for University student workers, this is a best practice for 4-H student workers (including teens under 19) that are employed for the purpose of providing direct service to youth. Please plan to include a standard criminal background check at the time of hiring for any 4-H student workers.

Volunteer Screening

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension 4-H Volunteer Activity Application process includes a volunteer screening. All volunteers and staff who work directly with youth are required to complete the volunteer screening. Be assured the volunteer screening process is confidential.

Volunteers are screened in order to ensure a safe, positive and nurturing environment for all youth involved with Nebraska 4-H programs and provide protection for the child, volunteer, educator, 4-H Council, Extension Board, and UNL Extension.

County Process

Please send the first and last names of all volunteers to the State 4-H Office at 4HVolunteer@unl.edu using the Requested Volunteer Screening List. This is similar to previous years, but we will not need their email addresses. Please send in all updated names so that volunteers who have completed screening can be connected to their county. 

Share the new volunteer email with volunteers - this email contains the organization link, a short description of the process, and who to contact for questions.

Check the Screened Volunteer File on Box to ensure that all volunteers have been screened and approved. For access to this file, please contact Hannah Opfer at hopfer2@unl.edu. This file will be updated as needed. NOTE: Volunteers cannot serve in their roles until the background check is complete. If you are waiting for a complete screening and do not see it listed, please contact Hannah Opfer at hopfer2@unl.edu.

Screening Fee 

Volunteers now need to complete an online screening application. Beginning October 1, 2019, volunteers are responsible for covering volunteer screening fees at the time the screening is submitted. Currently, the cost of the screening is $5.00.


Initial screening of volunteers will occur when they sign up to volunteer. Re-screening will then be done every five years by district, regardless of when the original screening was completed. The district rotation is as follows:

  • 2021: (Southeast District) Butler, Clay, Fillmore, Gage, Hamilton, Jefferson, Johnson, Merrick, Nemaha, Nuckolls, Otoe, Pawnee, Polk, Richardson, Saline, Saunders, Seward, Thayer, York
  • 2022 (Metro District) Cass, Dodge, Douglas, Sarpy, Lancaster, Washington
  • Panhandle: 2023: (Panhandle District) Banner, Blaine, Box Butte, Cherry, Cheyenne, Dawes, Deuel, Garden, Grant, Hooker, Kimball, Morrill, Scotts Bluff, Sheridan, Sioux, Thomas
  • 2024: (West Central District) Adams, Arthur, Buffalo, Chase, Custer, Dawson, Dundy, Franklin, Frontier, Furnas, Gosper, Hall, Harlan, Hayes, Hitchcock, Kearney, Keith, Lincoln, Logan, McPherson, Perkins, Phelps, Red Willow, Webster
  • 2025: (Northeast District) Antelope, Boone, Boyd, Brown, Rock, Keya Paha, Burt, Cedar, Colfax, Cuming, Dakota, Dixon, Garfield, Loop, Wheeler, Greeley, Holt, Howard, Knox, Madison, Nance, Pierce, Platte, Sherman, Stanton, Thurston, Valley, Wayne
  • 2026: (Southeast District) Butler, Clay, Fillmore, Gage, Hamilton, Jefferson, Johnson, Merrick, Nemaha, Nuckolls, Otoe, Pawnee, Polk, Richardson, Saine, Saunders, Seward, Thayer, York
  • 2027: (Metro District) Cass, Dodge, Douglas, Sarpy, Lancaster, Washington

We Protect Staff, Volunteers & Youth Nebraska Chaperone Training

The We Protect Staff, Volunteers & Youth Nebraska Chaperone Training is required for all UNL Extension staff and volunteers who are chaperoning 4-H members during 4-H overnight educational events and activities. After reviewing the course material, please complete the quiz to receive proper certification and permission to chaperone 4-H youth. This certification is good for three years; however, we recommend that you review the site periodically to keep your skills sharp.

Participants in the We Protect Staff, Volunteers & Youth Online Course will:

  • Understand the role of staff and volunteers in protecting youth and adults during 4-H trips, events, and activities.
  • Recognize the importance of youth protection for 4-H trips and activities.
  • Be able to use a process for creating and managing a safe environment for all involved in the 4-H program.

Instructions for Completing Online Training

Internet access and an email address are required for the self-directed, online course. To enroll, follow the following steps:

  1. Go to http://campus.extension.org
  2. Under Course Categories - Click on 4-H & Youth
  3. Scroll down and find: We Protect Staff, Volunteers & Youth - Nebraska Chaperone Training Course and click on it
  4. On the right-hand side, find Fill Out the New Account Form and click on Create My New Account.
  5. Complete the Create My New Account form, an email will be sent to you with instructions.
  6. Follow the directions in the email.
  7. The course requires an enrollment key. The enrollment key is case sensitive: NECHAP
  8. Click on Enroll me in this course.
  9. The course will open and should be self-explanatory. The quiz and certificate are part of the course.