Thinking of Joining 4-H…
What is 4-H (the basics)?
4-H is opportunity! Opportunity to learn new skills, opportunity to demonstrate new skills, opportunity to develop and practice leadership.
On the more technical side, 4-H is an informal educational program through which parents, other interested adults and youth can help young people develop confidence, social skills and decision-making abilities through small groups called clubs. These skills, along with learning additional subject matter and project knowledge, will help them to become responsible citizens who live full and rich lives.
Who can join 4-H?
Any youth in K5 through one year out of high school. 4-H is open to everyone, regardless of race, religion, color, disability, gender or place of residence. Youth in K5-2nd grade are Cloverbud members with a limited selection of projects available to them.
Why do young people like 4-H?
They have fun with friends at meetings, social activities, camps, fairs, and on tours and trips. They learn to do interesting things, such as, take care of animals and plants, redecorate their rooms, fix their bikes, take pictures, practice cooking and collect rocks. They help others to learn more about their 4-H project, provide leadership to younger kids, and learn about themselves.
Who provides leadership for 4-H?
The Waukesha County 4-H Leaders Association runs the local 4-H program through volunteer efforts. The University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension Services, through the county-based UW-Extension office, supports the 4-H program. The University provides the leadership, mission, vision, educational guidelines, literature resources and infrastructural support to the program. Nationally, it is part of the Extension Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
What is the 4-H Pledge?
My head to clearer thinking
My heart to greater loyalty
My hands to larger service
My health to better living
For my club, my community, my country, and my world.
What is the 4-H emblem?
A green four-leaf clover with a white “H” on each clover leaf. The H’s stand for head, heart, hands, and health.
What Kind of Time Commitment is Involved in 4-H Membership?
Everyone’s 4-H experience is different. The old saying “You only get out of it what you put into it” certainly applies to 4-H. The more involved a youth (or parent) is, the more they benefit from the program.
The most basic commitment is:
- Attending Monthly Club Meetings
- Attending Project Meetings (number varies by project, most county wide projects have between two and five monthly meetings, dog training meets weekly from March to Fair)
- Club Community Service Projects
- Showing 4-H Projects at the County Fair
4-H Club Meetings
When and where are 4-H Club Meetings?
Each 4-H Club has its own meeting date and location. With nearly 30 4-H Clubs to choose from in Waukesha County, you should be able to find a location and meeting day that fits into your schedule.
What do 4-H clubs do at Meetings?
There are usually five general things that might happen at a 4-H club meeting; conduct business meetings, recreation or social activities, project work, community service work, and special interest programs. Sometimes the whole meeting is devoted to one thing. Sometimes they have a short business meeting, work on their projects for a while, and then have recreation.
How long are 4-H club Meetings?
Many clubs meet for an hour or two, but it depends on the club’s agenda for the evening.
Who plans the program for the club?
Members of the club. If the club is small, this might be done at a meeting of the whole group. If the club is large, ideas come from everybody and a committee puts together a program.
When and How do we Join 4-H
The best time to join 4-H is in the fall of the year when the 4-H year begins (September 1). However, youth may join 4-H any time of the year. Youth joining 4-H after March 1 will be unable to show their 4-H projects at that year’s County Fair.
The first step in joining 4-H is to choose a local 4-H club because 4-H enrollment happens at a 4-H club meeting.
Most families choose a club based on its meeting location and/or meeting day of the week. Others choose a club because they have friends in that club. There are no residency restrictions (including county) when joining a 4-H club. (There are also a few project-based clubs such as horse and dog.)
A current list of 4-H clubs is on the Waukesha County 4-H website (http://waukesha.uwex.edu/4-h-youth-development/). Clicking on “4-H Clubs” will bring up the list. Families are welcome to “drop in” on a 4-H club to check it out or contact the 4-H leader in charge of a club before joining a club. For leader contact information, call the Waukesha County 4-H office at 262-548-7774.
The Enrollment Paperwork
The paperwork makes all the difference in the 4-H experience.
A 4-H enrollment form needs to be filled out for each child. These forms are available from club leaders or on the 4-H website (http://waukesha.uwex.edu/4-h-youth-development/) by clicking on “4-H Forms”. The enrollment forms are turned in at a club meeting along with the $30 per family annual county enrollment fee and any club dues. The annual enrollment fee goes to the Waukesha County 4-H Leader’s Association to help alleviate the costs of activities, awards, scholarships, and 4-H project literature. Clubs usually charge a per child fee to cover costs. You can inquire as to the amount of that when you speak with the leader.
Besides the basic information on the enrollment form, there are two critical pieces that shape your 4-H experience. The first is the e-mail address. If a current e-mail address is not provided, you will not be kept informed of important meetings, deadlines, and other information regarding projects that your child has signed up to participate in.
The second is projects . . . .
The simplest definition of a project is “a topic or area of interest your child would like to explore.” A complete list of projects with descriptions is on the Waukesha County 4-H website (http://waukesha.uwex.edu/4-h-youth-development/). Click on “4-H Projects” and then click on “Waukesha County 4-H Enrollment Guide”.
For youth in 3rd grade thru 13th (one year out of high school), there are over one hundred different project types to choose from. (Youth under the age 12 may not take a shooting sport project involving any “powder burning firearms.”)
4-H projects are generally not worked on during regular 4-H meetings. Youth explore a project in one of three ways:
- County-wide meetings led by a Waukesha County 4-H leader. Where ALL youth in Waukesha County 4-H who signed up for a project on their enrollment form are invited (via e-mail) to attend meetings focusing solely on that project. Countywide meetings are not available for all projects. Additional fees may apply.
- Club level meeting led by a leader in your 4-H club. Where only members of a club are invited to attend meetings focused solely on a project. Club level meetings are not available for all projects. Additional fees may apply.
- Self-study. Youth may take most 4-H projects regardless of the availability of Countywide or Club level leadership. Youth would explore the project topic with family members using 4-H literature, library and internet resources.
Most project meetings do not begin until January with the known exceptions of Legos, Quilting, Knitting and Crocheting.
Youth in K5 thru 2nd grade are Cloverbuds. The projects numbers for Cloverbuds are Cloverbud 10351, 10352, or 10353, (under the umbrella of the Cloverbud project, they can explore most regular 4-H projects except animal and shooting sports), Aerospace 50001, and Bicycling 50201.
So, you’ve filled in the project number and project name and you see the “Need Literature?” question, which prompts another question “what is literature?” Many projects (not all) have a series of booklets designed by the Extension Services to inform and lead the youth in growth in the project over the years. Some projects use booklets developed by other sources such as Coats & Clark (knitting and crocheting), Hoards Dairyman (dairy showmanship), etc.
Your club leaders use the “Need Literature?” column to place the literature order with the 4-H office for the entire club. The literature is given to the club and your leader gives it to you. If you do not receive your literature, ask your club leader about it!