NDSU Extension - Cass County



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4-H Basics

General 4-H information and the basics of Cass County 4-H.


Project Expectations


4-H Members

What is a 4-H club?

What's involved in a club meeting?

What are 4-H projects?

What is a fair exhibit?

Types of Membership

  • Cloverbuds - A non-competitive introduction to the 4-H club experience for children ages 5-7.
  • 4-H Members - Youth ages 8-18 experience hands-on learning through a variety of projects, programs and events.
  • Collegiate 4-H - collegiate 4-H is open to all college students who wish to support youth and the 4-H program. It is not necessary to have prior 4-H experience, only to have an interest in the 4-H ideals and in serving your community.


Project Expectations for a 4-H Club Member

The expectations for 4-H membership are a balance between 4-H project work, involvement in the 4-H club, participation in 4-H activities and working toward improving one's personal growth.

Once a member reaches age 8 or 3rd grade, they can sign up for 4-H projects. these projects are a group of hands on activities, organized activities and leadership/citizenship activities. Although members can sign up for as many projects as they would like with the approval of parents and their 4-H leader, it is REQUIRED THAT EACH MEMBER SIGN UP FOR AT LEAST ONE PROJECT. Please visit the Projects Page of this web site for more information.

If a member desires, he or she can exhibit these projects that have been worked on throughout the year at the Red River Valley Fair. Cass County 4-H requires all 4-H members to attend a minimum of six (6) club meetings prior to the fair in order to exhibit in the 4-H events at the Red River Valley Fair. 

Any new members who join during the year should attend at least sixty (60%) percent of the available meetings in order to be eligible to exhibit in the 4-H events held at the Red River Valley Fair. If a member cannot meet this requirement, the member must make arrangements with the club leader on how to fulfill this requirement. 

It will be up to the leader to contact Cass County Extension 4-H Youth Development on eligibility issues, but the county will send a reminder to the clubs to ensure that requirements are met. 

Examples of how a 4-H member can fulfill the requirement if meeting attendance is an issue:

  • Attend another club's meeting.
  • Help plan and implement a club activity, fundraising project, etc. that is held outside of the club meeting.
  • Teach a club/county lesson.
  • Help with a county event.
Please see What is a fair exhibit? for more information.



The Cloverbud Program is an introduction to the traditional 4-H club experience for children age 5-7.

Purpose - the purpose of the Cloverbud program  is to give young children a sense of belonging to a group and a chance to learn to get along with others while building self-confidence and self-esteem. As they develop a relationship with an adult helper, they explore interests and develop a positive attitude about learning.

Clubs - Cloverbuds can be integrated into a club with older 4-H members or a separate club involving Cloverbuds only. Most clubs meet once or twice a month. Meeting time is spent learning the Pledge of Allegiance and 4-H Pledge, participating in s short business meeting, working on one or two projects and participating in social games and snack time.

Activities & Projects - Cloverbuds do not sign up for specific projects. Leaders provide short lessons and activities appropriate for the age of the group. Cloverbuds can participate in locak events such as Project Days, speech & demonstration contests, fashion event, fairs, livestock and horse events.


4-H Members

4-H Members are youth ages 8-18. This group is part of the competitive program and has full membership in the 4-H program.

Purpose - the purpose of 4-H membership is to give youth an opportunity to learn through hands-on, learn-by-doing techniques. 4-H members learn about leadership, community service and an endless variety of project areas. Our vision for ND is for 4-H members to become positive, productive citizens and catalysts for effective change to meet the needs of a diverse and changing society.

Clubs - A 4-H club is made up of 5 or more youth from 3 or more families. Clubs normally meet one to two times a month. Meetings include a business meeting, project work, demonstrations and social time.

Projects - Projects can be through individual study or in a group setting such as at a club meeting. Please see the Projects section of this web site for more information.

Programs & Events - 4-H members in this age group can be involved in many different activities and events on local and state levels.


What is a 4-H Club?

4-H Clubs are one of the most popular and visible parts of the overall 4-H Program. The club is usually organized within a neighborhood or a community. Each club usually has the following:

  • At least five members from two or more families
  • One or more caring adult volunteers working with the members, teen leaders and parents
  • A structure that gives members the primary responsibility for making decisions and operating the club
  • A definite club program planned by members, leaders and parents, including individual and group goals for project learning and group interaction
  • Approximately ten to twelve club meetings during the year
  • Participation in learning experiences outside the local group
  • Involvement in community service
  • Personal evaluation and recognition of progress on individual and group goals

Two major club structures exist in North Dakota 4-H Youth Programs: the community club and the project club.

A Community Club involves members of a variety of ages and interests. Its average size is 10 to 12 members, but it may be larger. Club meetings include business, group-building activities and educational programs. The community club is managed and advised by one or more organizational leaders, usually with the support of other volunteers who work with the various age divisions or project areas.

A Project Club centers around one project and all club members participate in that project. The average club size is 10 to 20 members. Club meetings focus on project work and business. Additional club activities may be scheduled for group-building and family involvement.

The type of club structure that works best will be determined by the situation within the community. Each structure has benefits, but some factors indicate which club is best to start.

Establish a Community Club if: there is a diversity of interest; many educational programs are offered.

Establish a Project Club if: the interests of youth are concentrated in a specific topic area.


What's Involved in a 4-H Club Meeting?

What do 4-H members do at club meetings? 4-H club meetings focus on business, educational, social and service activities. 4-H members usually do four kinds of things: project work, business meeting, recreation or social activities and special interest programs. Sometimes, after a short business meeting, members work on their projects or have an educational activity then play a game or two. Other times, the meeting will be devoted to one thing, such as electing officers and planning the club program for the year, or everyone may be building a birdhouse, or the club may visit a local historic site, or the group may plant flowers at a local public building. Most clubs do a community service project each year.

What is a club meeting like? The 4-H meeting is balanced between business, educational program and recreation. 4-H meetings normally do not last over one and one-half hours, with the time fairly equally divided among the three parts.

Business Meeting - this portion should be short and snappy. It should be a small democracy in action. The kids should run the meeting, not the leaders. Leaders should offer guidance but strive to have the members learn how to lead themselves.

Click HERE for a video on Parliamentary Procedure.

Educational Program - this part is designed to help members learn more about subjects of general interest in the 4-H program. 4-H teaching is unique - it is learning-by-doing. Generally it includes talks and demonstrations by 4-H members. Outside speakers may present programs at  4-H meetings.

Recreation & Refreshments - This is a fun time involving all members. Recreation may include challenges, group singing, relays, guessing games, table games or other fun activities. Many clubs serve refreshments, although not essential. Most often different members host each meeting. The learning experience for the members who select, prepare and serve is the the prime concern. Club members should learn how to select simple, nutritious and inexpensive refreshments. Parents can and should help by giving suggestions for guidance.

How often do clubs meet? Most clubs meet between 8-12 times per year. Most clubs meet monthly but can meet more often if they wish. Clubs are free to establish thair own schedule based on what works best for their membership.

What are demonstrations and illustrated talks? Demonstrations are show and tell type presentations where the 4-H member shares some of the fun things they have learned in their projects. Actual articles are used to show the steps necessary for a finished product. Illustrated talks differ from demonstrations in that they tell how rather than show how. Charts, models and other visuals are important for illustrated talks.

When does the 4-H year take place? A new 4-H year begins September 1 of each year. Community clubs organize around this time and prior to May 1. If members wish to show a project at the county fair, they must enroll by May 1. Showing at the county fair is an optional activity. Kids can join 4-H at any time of the year.

What is the age for membership? 4-H membership is open to all youth ages 5-18 based on their age as of September 1 of each year.

What does it cost? Annual membership dues are $25 per youth and is capped at $75 per family. From this, ND4-H receives $20 per youth for annual member dues, while Cass County 4-H receives $5 per youth for annual dues. Cass County 4-H Clubs may elect to collect club dues; these are typically $5-15 per youth. Club and membership dues help to cover cost of hosting activities and events throughout the year.

How big should a club be? This depends on the age of the members, the places they have to meet and the leadership available. The ideal club is big enough to have fun together, but small enough for everyone to feel part of the group. The average 4-H club is 10 to 20 members.

Should 4-H clubs have dues? This depends on their need for money. If a club wants money for some activities it usually charges dues or has fundraising activities.

Club Leadership - Adults serve as volunteer leaders, there are three types of leaders: General/Organizational, Project and Activity leaders. The organizational leader organizes meeting location, enrollment, club programming and serves as the clubs contact with the 4-H extension agent. The project leader provides direction and support for members' project work. The activity leader coordinates club-wide activities outside of the project area.


What Are 4-H Projects?

There are almost 100 projects available on a variety of subject matters of interest to youth. Projects are real-life experiences that help the 4-H'ers learn to make sound decisions. Projects put the hands and minds to work. 4-H projects take on a wide variety of interests and activities that are designed to attract boys and girls regardless of their place of residence, economic status, race, etc. Members are expected to complete the projects in which they enroll. Projects provide the basis of the 4-H program by offering various educational experiences. Carrying out a project will help the member "Learn to Do by Doing" as well as learning why things happen the way they do.

Why projects? The project is a teaching tool that can be used to develop boys and girls to their maximum potential so long as we view project works as a "means to an end" and not the end in itself. This means that the basic objective of 4-H - the development of the boy and girl - is the most important consideration, not the garment the member makes or the calf the member raises, or the miscellaneous project the member completes.

How are projects conducted? Project work is conducted through various activities and events such as: project meetings; regular club meetings; tours to visit projects of members; family activity at home; exhibiting project work at shows, fairs, etc; record keeping.

What are guidelines to selecting projects? Parents and the member should know and fully understand what is expected of them before they enroll in a project. Projects are selected in the fall when enrollment forms are filled out. Usually younger members should limit their projects to one or two. Older, more experienced members may be able to do several different projects, including those that are more difficult. Factors that parents and leaders should consider in helping a club member to select a project are:

  • The project should meet the needs and interests of the member. The problem here, however, is that in many cases the youngster does not really know if they would like a particular project without first giving it a try.
  • The project should be appropriate for the age and ability of the member.
  • The member must have enough time to devote to the project.
  • Is the project acceptable to the family and can it fit into the family situation?
  • How much will the project cost?
  • Is there an opportunity for ownership and management responsibilities?
  • Are there leaders to help with the project in the club or are the parents willing to help the member with the project?

Are 4-H members expected to do their own project work? Yes, with help and support. 4-H is a learn-by-doing program. Leaders, junior leaders and parents may tell or demonstrate to members how some things should be done, but 4-H members are expected to learn how to do things themselves.

Where is project information found? All projects are listed in the North Dakota 4-H Program Guide. Each family should receive one copy of this guide at the beginning of each year in September. The family guide includes a brief description of each project. The 4-H leader can advise you on project completion requirements and exhibit guidelines. Project guidelines for each project are included in each book.

Are projects done individually or as a group? Both - Some projects, like biking and planting trees for conservation, are more fun when done as a group. Others like making a dress or building a bookcase will be done individually by each member of the group.


What is a Fair Exhibit?

An exhibit is an item or display designed to show something that the members have accomplished. Exhibits are usually associated with a fair, but members can exhibit their project work at club meetings, community events and other opportunities. Members are not required to exhibit their work or participate in competition. However, participation in competitive activities and exhibits is encouraged as an opportunity for education, recognition and public awareness opportunity. Fair premiums, ribbons and other awards are incentives and symbols of recognition in many areas for those who choose to participate. Self-recognition and self-satisfaction for having completed a project are important rewards.

For more information and questions, please contact:
Sarah McNaughton, NDSU Extension Agent, 4-H Youth Development
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