Section 11: 4-H Council, Foundation & Partnerships

11.1 4-H Councils:  Policy

Local 4-H councils are private partners in the 4-H Youth Development Program of the Extension system, specifically the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension. As stated in other parts of this handbook, 4-H is authorized by the USDA through the State 4-H Office at Land Grant Universities and then to the local Extension Offices throughout the state.

4-H Councils provide support to Extension staff, assist in determining the direction of the 4-H program, provide support and assistance to 4-H volunteers, advocate for 4-H, and support 4-H members in the program.

Council members are volunteers who are selected in a variety of ways; as determined by the local 4-H Council constitution and by-laws. Check with the local Extension offices and 4-H Councils for their procedures. 4-H Council members need to be enrolled as official 4-H volunteer leaders completing the Leader Enrollment Form and Volunteer Screening Form as a part of the youth risk management procedures.

Council membership must represent a broad section of the community and reflect the demographic composition of the community, 4-H program delivery, and project curriculum interest areas. The volunteers who serve on 4-H Councils are assigned the task of determining the needs of 4-H youth in the county and determining how to meet those needs in collaboration with University personnel.

Strong councils provide local input to the 4-H Youth Development program. Many 4-H councils provide additional funds to support 4-H programs through scholarships to 4-H’ers for events and college, for leader forums, for awards offered at county events and other expenditure to strengthen the 4-H experience. Providing direction to 4-H programs strengthens the entire state 4-H system. Having a strong relationship is critical to a strong 4-H Youth Development Program.

The input from the council is important but must follow the policies, procedures and guidelines of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension, the State 4-H Office and the USDA. Decisions of the councils cannot be adverse to the mission of the 4-H program. Ultimately, if the council and the local 4-H Office are at odds, the final decision would rest with the Extension Educator - 4-H Youth Development (or Unit Leader in the event there is no Youth Development Educator), the State 4-H Administrator, or the State Extension Dean and Director. This partnership is very important so all efforts need to be made to make it a productive effort.

11.2 4-H Foundations:  Policy

The Foundation must follow all the laws that apply to non-profit or not-for-profit corporations, depending upon how they were incorporated. They also need to follow the policies, procedures, and guidelines of 4-H. Since the name 4-H is in the title of these corporations, these corporations are ultimately accountable to the 4-H program. (See Section 4.7.2, 4-H Name and Emblem Regulations.)

11.3 Partnerships: Schools and Community Centers:  Policy

As part of the 4-H program, many counties offer 4-H programs at schools and/ or community centers. These two additional outreach audiences enhance the program and are an important part of the 4-H educational program. 4-H programs at schools and/or community centers are subject to the same overreaching policies as all other 4-H entities. If they function as an organized club, they should follow the guidelines in Section 8. If they function as special interest or school enrichment entity, they should follow the rules governing 4-H school enrichment programs. In all cases, the money that is handled must be accounted for following the financial management guidelines found in Section 12 of this document. Other policies must also be in compliance with overall 4-H policy.

11.4 Livestock/Premium Sales Policy

4-H Youth raising livestock and other farm animals to be sold at auctions, county and state fairs and other 4-H events has long been a vital part of the 4-H educational experience. The income received and the funds paid at these events are subject to Federal tax laws and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations.

Auction Options

Each fair runs its auction in their unique way. Below are options of the type of auctions for 4-H youth shows, however, this is not meant to endorse the concept of auctions for fairs and 4-H projects.

  1. Premium Only Auction
  2. For Sale Auction (Third-party must be involved)
  3. Combination of Premium and For Sale Auction (Third-party must be involved)

UNL and Nebraska 4-H cannot support the financial aspects of a livestock auction/sale, however, premium only auctions are allowed. County 4-H programs should move these committee and financial accounts to a non-4-H entity if there is an actual sale of an animal beyond premium support only. If no entity exists to assume responsibility for the auction, then creating a new nonprofit, not in the name of 4-H to run the auction would be an option. The only exception to this is true premium auctions in which businesses donate money to 4-H and the money is divided or awarded to the youth as an extra premium for their livestock placings.

Clarification of Auction Type

Premium Only: A “premium only” auction is defined as an event in which change of ownership of the animal is not the intent; but the intent is only to provide a monetary premium to accompany the ribbon earned by the exhibit. If, in addition to the premium auction, a county wants to provide a service to exhibitors of having a packer bid on the animals as a group and then proceed to load those animals out for slaughter, this should be handled separately from the premium auction. Youth selling their animals by packer bid and participating in the premium auction should receive two checks, one for the actual market value of the animal and one for the premium auction money.

For Sale Auction: A for sale auction is one in which the animal is sold through the ring and shipped for sale or sent to the local locker by the buyer for harvest. Those animals sold, do change hands and are no longer eligible for participation at further 4-H livestock shows. If this option is selected, a third party must be involved to handle the auction funds in place of the 4-H Council.

Combination of Premium Only and For Sale Auction: This option means the youth has the choice of retaining ownership of the animal or shipping the animal for sale. If this option is selected, a third party must be involved to handle the auction funds in place of the 4-H Council. Those animals sold, do change hands and are no longer eligible for participation at further 4-H livestock shows.

When deciding which type of auction works best for your county program, here are some points of note:

  • The University does not support livestock sales due to compliance with its educational mission. It's seen as commerce which does not fit within our scope of work.
  • If a sale barn/auction company/ag society/other third-party entity or non-profit takes over running the sale, they could treat this like any other livestock sale.
  • If a sale barn/auction company takes over, they could charge the commission, similarly to how they would run a regular auction. If they chose not to do that, they could get donation credit for the value of their services (usually a percentage of sales).
  • The Livestock committee can assist with auction duties such as: helping to collect payment, clerking the sale, promoting the auction, etc.


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