A volunteer is any adult or youth recognized by Extension who is giving service to the 4-H program without salary or wages.

9.1 Being a 4-H Volunteer is a Privilege, Not a Right:  Policy

While volunteerism is crucial to the success of 4-H, it is a privilege, not a right to be a 4-H volunteer. Volunteers are expected to adhere to the Nebraska 4-H Volunteer Code of Conduct, located in the Volunteer Profile. Volunteers may be dismissed from service at any time, for any or no reason. (See Section 9.6.)

9.2 Age Requirements for 4-H Volunteers:  Policy

9.2.1 Minimum Age Requirements to volunteer as a 4-H Club Leader

Any adult who is of the age of majority in Nebraska (age 19) and who has been successfully screened can enroll as a leader of a 4-H club. Youth volunteers may help as teen club leaders or co-leaders under the direction of an adult volunteer.

9.3 Volunteer Enrollment:  Policy

All 4-H volunteers must enroll annually in the counties in which they serve and complete the following requirements: Leader Enrollment Form, Youth Protection 4-H Volunteer Screening Form which includes the Leader Code of Conduct, 1st Year Leader Orientation Training if applicable, On-going Training as Expected by County Program. For adults, it also includes the completion of risk management screening using the Youth Protection Volunteer Screening Form. (Please download form, before printing).

9.3.1 Nebraska 4-H Volunteer Code of Conduct

Along with the initial enrollment, volunteers will read, agree to, sign, and submit the Nebraska 4-H Volunteer Code of Conduct.

Nebraska 4-H Volunteer Code of Conduct

Your primary goal as a 4-H volunteer is to help children and youth develop competency in their projects, confidence in themselves and others, connections in their community, and sound character. As a 4-H volunteer, you are to help kids do what they are capable of doing. You are to promote teamwork and leadership while helping the 4-H’ers learn and have fun. Everything you say and do should be consistent with the six core ethical values comprising good character: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, caring, fairness and citizenship. This Volunteer Code of Conduct sets forth expectations of 4-H volunteers. As a Nebraska 4-H Volunteer, I will:

  1. Act to encourage and justify trust. Teach 4-H’ers the meaning and importance of trustworthiness.
  2. Treat members, parents, Extension staff, judges and others with whom I come in contact with respect, courtesy and consideration. Avoid and prevent putdowns, insults, name-calling, yelling and other verbal or non-verbal conduct likely to offend, hurt or set a bad example.
  3. Inform myself about youth and their positive development. Fulfill my responsibilities by striving to improve my performance as a volunteer and a mentor of young people. Attend volunteer training sessions when I can and seek out and use books, videotapes and other educational materials.
  4. Teach and model kindness and compassion for others. Recognize that all young people have skills and talents which can be used to help others and improve the community. Teach and demand teamwork and discourage selfishness.
  5. Teach and model fair-mindedness by being open to ideas, suggestions and opinions of others. Make all reasonable efforts to assure 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 members with impartiality.
  6. Teach and model the importance of obeying laws and rules as an obligation of citizenship. Obey the laws of the locality, state and nation. Promote the responsible treatment of animals and stewardship of the environment.
  7. Not use alcohol or any illegal substances (or be under the influence) while working with or being responsible for youth. Not allow youth to use alcohol or any illegal substances while under my supervision. Provide a safe environment. I will not harm youth or adults in any way, whether through sexual harassment, physical force, verbal or mental abuse, neglect, or other harmful behaviors.

9.3.2 Required Volunteer and Staff Screening

All 4-H Activity Workers who work directly with youth are screened for behavior that Nebraska Extension determines in its sole discretion, may present a risk to its participants.

The confidential Youth Protection Volunteer Screening Form completed by all 4-H Activity Workers who work directly with youth is processed by Health and Human Services and approved by officials at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. UNL reserves the right to limit or reject an individual’s participation in the 4-H program. Social Security Numbers are required for volunteer screening. This information is only sent to Health and Human Services for screening purposes. No record of social security numbers is kept by 4-H.

Misrepresentation or omission of facts requested on this form is cause for denial as a 4-H volunteer or appropriate discipline of staff. Failure to cooperate in such screening will disqualify any Activity Worker from service. All Volunteer Profiles within each district/county will be updated and re-approved on a four-year basis, using a rotation schedule (See Section 9.3.3, Volunteer On-going Screening Process.) It is the responsibility of the local Extension office to keep volunteer profiles up-to-date.

Nebraska State Patrol, Sex Offender Registry -- https://sor.nebraska.gov

9.3.3 Yearly Screening

All volunteers and paid staff working directly or indirectly with youth will be screened through the Nebraska Sex Offender Registry and the National Sex Offender Public Registry.

Nebraska Sex Offender Registry: https://sor.nebraska.gov/
National Sex Offender Public Registry: http://www.nsopr.gov/

9.3.4 Volunteer On-going Screening Process

Initial screening of volunteers and staff will occur when they sign up to volunteer or are employed as an Extension staff member. Screening for all volunteers will be done every four years by district, regardless of when the original screening was completed. The district rotation is as follows:

  • Panhandle: 2018, 2022
  • West Central: 2019, 2023
  • Northeast: 2020, 2024
  • Southeast: 2017, 2021, 2025

9.3.5 Required Volunteer Training:

New Volunteer Training

All new volunteers will complete the on-line volunteer orientation/training prior to completing the Youth Protection Volunteer Screening Form. Local offices will provide information on how to complete this orientation.

Risk Management Course

Staff, adult and teen volunteers who are chaperoning 4-H members during 4-H overnight educational events and activities are required to complete the Risk Management course, “We Protect Staff, Volunteers, and Youth” and receive certification prior to chaperoning an event. It is recommended that all volunteers, whether chaperoning an overnight event or not, participate in this course to be familiar with Risk Management issues and procedures.

The course is found at http://4h.unl.edu/resources/volunteers. Contact the state 4-H office for access information. The course certification is valid for three years from date of certification. Persons without access to the internet may contact the local Extension office to receive course materials or access to the website.

Special Certifications and Training

Volunteers for select roles or positions (i.e., Shooting Sports leaders, Level III and IV Horse Examiners, ATV leaders) will be required to attend certification training. All 4-H volunteers and/or leaders are highly encouraged to attend programs and/ or receive additional training that will help them become a successful volunteer. Additional required training may arise as new programs and situations dictate.

9.3.6 Recommended Orientation and Training:

On-going Volunteer Training All volunteers are expected to participate in training as available. Volunteers are encouraged to attend training to stay current in subject matter information and industry standards. Volunteers can keep current on information related to youth development issues, teaching techniques, 4-H policy, programs and regulations and subject matter updates through a variety of ways such as web-based training, workshops, 4-H conferences, research based curriculum, etc.

9.4 Volunteer Residence:  Policy

4-H Volunteers who have been successfully screened will be eligible to volunteer in the county/counties of their choice. Volunteers may give service to a county other than the county in which they reside and should not be discriminated against because of their place of residence.

9.5 Council Volunteer:

4-H Council members are 4-H Volunteers and as a result must follow and adhere to volunteer guidelines. Once individuals have been elected or appointed to the Council, they will be considered 4-H Volunteers and will need to enroll in the 4-H Online system, sign the Code of Conduct and complete the Volunteer Screening form. It is expected that all individuals involved in 4-H will adhere to the policies set forth by Nebraska 4-H and represent all aspects with fidelity.

9.6 Code of Conduct Violation Guidelines:  Policy

Any volunteer who does not abide by the volunteer Code of Conduct will be subject to review and appropriate consquences.


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