Policies and procedures
section 2: Types of 4-H participation
2.1 4-H Eligibility
Purdue Extension is part of the College of Agriculture at Purdue University, cooperating with Indiana’s 92 Counties and the United States Department of Agriculture. The 4-H Youth Development program abides with the nondiscrimination policies of Purdue University and the United States Department of Agriculture.
Youth may become 4-H members when they enter the third grade and may continue their membership through the completion of grade 12. Each individual may continue membership for a maximum of ten (10) consecutive years.
- Youth who enroll in grade three and are advanced academically (thus graduating early) may continue for a total of 10 years ONLY if the enrollment occurs in consecutive years.
- Those youth who are academically advanced and “skip” 3rd grade, may begin the program as a 4th grader and may continue for a total of 10 years ONLY if the enrollment occurs in consecutive years.
- Those youth who enroll in grade three and are retained a grade in school may continue to progress through the 4-H Program by adding subsequent years of participation, but MAY NOT exceed 10 years of participation. For example, if a member is retained one year in school (public, private, or home), their final year of 4-H membership would conclude the summer following their junior year of high school.
- Those youth who entered the program in 3rd grade and for one reason or another leave formal education prior to the completion of 12th grade may continue for a total of 10 years ONLY if the enrollment occurs in consecutive years.
NOTE: 10 years of membership in the 4-H Youth Development Program is an opportunity --- not an entitlement. Those youth who do not enroll as 3rd grade students or meet the exceptions above, conclude their involvement with the program during the summer immediately following the completion of their senior year in high school.
An individual’s 4-H grade is determined by the school grade in which he or she is classified at the time of year he or she enrolls in 4-H. A member does not advance in 4-H grade until he or she enrolls in 4-H for the subsequent year. Each member should enroll in the division of a project/subject that would best suit his/her interest and potential for personal growth and would enhance their family involvement.
Opportunities in the 4-H program are available to all Indiana youth as defined regardless of race, religion, color, sex, national origin or ancestry, genetic information, marital status, parental status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or disability. Married young men and women of 4-H age may participate in any of the 4-H projects and activities. However, married persons must participate by the same terms and conditions and/or guidelines as unmarried participants. Membership in 4-H is gained by annually enrolling through a Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service Office located in each of Indiana's 92 counties.
The Indiana 4-H Youth Development program year is October 1 to September 30 annually. Enrollment is an annual process attained by completing individual 4-H enrollment via the 4-H Online enrollment process. Statewide 4-H Online enrollment occurs annually October 1.
2.2 Mini 4-H
Mini 4-H is a program designed to encourage positive development of children, Kindergarten through second grade. Mini 4-H is available in the majority of counties in Indiana. The goal of Mini 4-H is to help young children explore friendships outside the family; explore the way in which things work; practice both small and large muscle control; and think about the ways people work together on projects.
The NON-COMPETITIVE learning environment for Mini 4-H includes:
- Planned learning activities in which children are invited to be active and explore materials and ideas without the pressure of completing a specific product or exhibit.
- Low adult/leader to child ratio that allows time for adults/leaders to provide individual, positive encouragement and assistance.
- Simple, interesting activities that are fun.
- Encouragement of children to participate in a group activity by sharing and or displaying their activity projects.
- Rewards that are identical and/or ribbons of the same color for everyone.
DO NOT JUDGE projects, but instead discuss them with the child.
NOTE: Purdue University and the Indiana 4-H Youth Development Program do not support, endorse, or encourage 4-H programming for children prior to Kindergarten. 4-H Youth Development Extension staff members and 4-H Volunteers may not offer, or encourage others to offer, programming for children prior to Kindergarten.
2.3 Youth needing special accommodations
4-H programs should be designed to consider the needs of participants to create a sense of belonging and feeling of inclusion among all youth. Accommodations may include youth with special needs (e.g., cognitive, learning, physical differences), or there may be other accommodations requested. The 4-H Health Form asks for this information. For accommodations or requests, please contact the Purdue Extension 4-H Youth Educator for any actions which may be necessary or appropriate.
A series of Inclusive 4-H resources are available on the Indiana 4-H Website to help staff, volunteers, and families provide the best opportunities possible for all youth regardless of their level of abilities.
2.5 Marriage status and parental status
Married individuals and parents who meet school grade requirements to participate in Indiana 4-H are eligible to fully participate in the 4-H program and are eligible for all benefits therein.
Indiana youth typically enroll in 4-H Youth Development programs in the county or state in which they reside. However, individuals living in one county may join 4-H in another county. There must be educational or social reasons for an individual joining 4-H in a different county than that of their primary residence. During a single program year, a 4-H member enrolled in a given project may enroll and exhibit that project only in one county of enrollment.
In the event that a project is not offered in the county of primary 4-H enrollment, a 4-H member may enroll in that specific project in a different county. Approval of this special exception rests with the 4-H Extension Educator in consultation with the State 4-H Office. Participation in 4-H related activities and events (i.e., judging, performing arts, auction) must be in the county of primary 4-H enrollment.
The above policy is not intended to provide an escape mechanism for 4-H members and families who are unwilling to follow the terms and/or conditions in their current county of 4-H membership. Decisions regarding 4-H membership in a non-resident county (a county you do not live in), rest with the 4-H Extension Educator in the receiving county in consultation with the State 4-H Office.