Section 7: Methods of Participation


Youth may participate in 4-H through a variety of program delivery modes, including:

  • Organized 4-H Club
  • School Enrichment
  • Afterschool Program
  • Day Camp
  • Residential Camp
  • Special Interest Groups
  • On-line Technology

Other program components include:

  • Clover Kids
  • Families, Independent Members, and Others

Statistical information about Nebraska 4-H members and volunteers is reported by staff as required by the Federal ES237 reporting system. The 4-H Federal reporting year is October 1 to September 30. All levels of the Nebraska 4-H development program comply with Federal definitions for methods of participation as follows:

7.1 Youth members of organized 4-H clubs:  Policy

A 4-H club is an organized group of youth, led by an adult, for a long-term, progressing series of educational experience. The purpose of a 4-H club is to provide positive youth development opportunities to meet the needs of young people to experience belonging, mastery, independence and generosity. These Essential Elements foster those educational opportunities that are tied to the Land Grant University knowledge base. 4-H clubs may meet in any location, typically have elected officers and a set of rules approved by the membership to govern the club.

7.1.1 Community clubs

Community clubs typically meet in the evenings or on weekends and offer self-chosen multiple learning experiences and activities.

7.1.2 In-school clubs

In-school clubs meet during school hours, but have officers and planned activities beyond school enrichment.

7.1.3 4-H after-school clubs

4-H after-school clubs are organized within child care settings. They have officers and planned activities.

7.1.4 Military 4-H clubs

Military 4-H clubs are organized by the Armed Forces, often on military installations, and principally for military dependents.

7.2 Youth participating in 4-H school enrichment programs:  Policy

Groups of youth receiving a sequence of learning experiences in cooperation with school officials during school hours to support the school curriculum. Involves direct teaching by Extension staff or trained volunteers, including teachers.

7.3 Youth participating in after-school, school-aged child care education programs:  Policy

Educational programs offered to youth outside of school hours, usually in a school or other community center and incorporating 4-H curricula. The primary purpose is to provide care for youth while parents are working or unavailable. (4-H clubs in school age child care settings should be reported under Organized 4-H After-school Clubs, Section 7.1.3.)

7.4 Youth participating in Day Camping programs:  Policy

Youth taking part in an Extension planned educational experience. Day camping consists of multiple-day programs with youth returning home each evening.

7.5 Youth participating in Residential/Overnight Camping:  Policy

Youth taking part in an Extension planned educational experience. Overnight camping includes being away from home at least one night (residential, primitive or travel camping) and is not restricted to members of organized 4-H clubs.

7.6 Youth participating in 4-H Special Interest/Short-term programs/Day camp:  Policy

Groups of youth meeting for a specific learning experience that involves direct teaching by Extension staff or trained volunteers, including teachers. The program is not part of school enrichment curriculum and is not restricted to members of 4-H clubs. Multiple day meetings, for example on college campuses, should be reported as short-term programs. The direct audience contact hours should be recorded for all programs. To be federally reported, direct audience contact hours should be at least six hours.

7.6.1 Project Groups

Project groups would include educational programs for groups based on a Nebraska 4-H Curriculum.

7.6.2 Activity Groups

Activity groups would include educational programs for groups based around activities or events that are not tied to a particular curriculum. Examples of these include field days, project judging or presentations.

7.7 Youth participating in On-Line Technology:  Policy

Youth offered learning experiences through Extension via on-line technology or distance education.

7.8 4-H Clover Kids Program:  Policy

The purpose of the 4-H Clover Kids program is to foster the development of life skills that are essential for the cognitive, social, emotional and physical maturation of younger children. Children of this age are a distinct audience for 4-H with unique learning characteristics and developmental needs that are different from older children and youth served through 4-H membership. As a result, the 4-H Clover Kids program is designed with specific educational objectives and program policies. 4-H Clover Kids programs and curriculum will include activities and learning opportunities that are developmentally appropriate for this age youth. Participation, safety, personal development, learning and fun are the highest priorities in providing 4-H Clover Kid programs.

7.8.1 4-H Clover Kid Age

Children may join 4-H Clover Kids when their 4-H age is five to seven.

7.8.2 4-H Clover Kid program is developmentally appropriate and involves the following components:

  • Encourages involvement of parent or significant adult
  • Focuses on self-esteem and provides positive feedback
  • Sharing through cooperative learning
  • Non-competitive: Youth within this age are not ready for competition
  • Emphasizes fun and success of every child
  • Recognizes individuals for participation
  • Recognizes and gives incentives without rank or placing

Clover Kid programs, in addition to the curriculum provided, can be developed as long as a safe environment is assured. (Go to Section 16.1.3, Clover Kids and Animals.)

7.9 Families, Independent Members and Others:  Policy

Planned learning that occurs independently of a formal group setting, such as a club. This may be an individual, paired or family learning effort. For many youth, their exposure to 4-H experiences and learning materials comes through activities conducted either within their family or an independent membership. While 4-H encourages participation in club settings to promote friendships and interaction with other youth and adults, for some youth, this is not always possible. Families and independent members are welcome to participate as a part of the 4-H experience.


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