Types of Involvement
The 4-H Youth Development Program has successfully used a variety of methods to involve young people for a number of years. These methods are described below.
The purpose of a 4-H club is to provide youth with educational, fun learning experiences with their peers. 4-H Clubs may be organized in several forms.
These groups include
at least five members from at
least three families ranging in grades from 3 to 12.
The youth usually live in a geographic area they call their community or neighborhood. The club is led by one or more approved adult volunteer leaders.
Youth enroll in subject matter areas of interest (projects), participate in 9-12
meetings during the year, select youth officers, carry out club
responsibilities, participate in service to the community, and receive
recognition for their work. Club meetings typically are held once a month in a
location such as a school, community center, church, or other public meeting
space. Project evaluation is often carried out during the county fair or
at the end of the 4-H Youth Development
Program year. The club often uses its meetings to develop group process skills, leadership ability,
and communication skills.
These groups are
organized around a specific subject matter (project) area (e.g. robotics, junior
leaders, shooting sports, rabbits, dairy goats, tractor, horse and pony, dogs,
or electricity, etc.). The youth and adult volunteers use club meetings to learn
together about the subject around which they have organized. They have lessons,
participate in field trips, and teach each other about related concepts. They often
prepare an exhibit for a county fair. They develop leadership skills (club
officers) and group process skills by working together and completing projects
that are meaningful to each other or their community.
SPARKS Clubs are open to youth grades 3-12 to “spark” new interest in the
Indiana 4-H program. SPARK Clubs are
special interest groups designed to capture the attention of youth with single
focus, “out of the box” interests that are likely different from
state-recognized 4-H projects. These clubs are led by volunteers bringing their
subject mastery to the club. SPARK Clubs
include six hours of instructional time that can occur in one day or over a
length of time. Most SPARK Clubs end their program with a culminating event or
Read about family involvement during club meetings here. Want to get involved? Contact your local County Extension Office to find out what clubs meet in your area.
Mini 4-H Programs are specifically designed to involve children (grades K-2) in activities that are experiential,
developmentally appropriate, and related to enhancing children's self-esteem.
Mini 4-H is a Purdue 4-H Youth Development Program that includes a
curriculum that relates to many of the typical 4-H subject matter areas. Mini
4-H is typically led by adults who will
involve children in activities that add effectively to the children's growth and development. Activities in Mini 4-H
Members have the
opportunity to learn more about a subject matter that they choose to study
through completing hands on activities. In 4-H, we refer to these as projects.
In order to enroll in a project, members must sign up for them at the time of
enrolling in 4-H. Each project has a manual that guides the youth through the
learning process as well as a set of guidelines that helps them meet the
project requirements. Adult volunteers and staff who are knowledgeable on that
particular subject often host workshops to allow the youth to learn about that
topic in a social environment. Each project has a beginner, intermediate, and
advanced level to allow youth to build on their knowledge each year and
continue to challenge their skills. Projects are meant to be worked on over
time, providing an educational opportunity for youth outside of the classroom
setting. Often, youth will exhibit and display their project at a local county
fair in order to show the community what they have learned. There is no limit
to the number of projects youth can sign up for, however, we suggest starting
out with one or two your first year. Click here to see a
list of projects that are offered at the state level.
Workshops are meant to supplement the time the youth spends working on a project and the activities or subject area they complete in the project manual. Typically, these are offered several times a year. We encourage family members to attend these workshops with the 4-H member for the best educational outcome. An example of a workshop topic includes the annual National Youth Science Day (NYSD) activities.
Every county is
different, but most counties will have a fair in the summer that showcases what
the 4-H members have learned while taking their projects. This gives youth the
opportunity to have their project judged in order to gain feedback and then display
what they have worked so hard on in order for the public to view. Buildings on
the fairgrounds are lined with arts and crafts projects, sewn garments,
photographs, and model rockets just to name a few. Barns will also house
animals that the youth have worked to take care of and raise. The county fair
is a celebration of hard work and allows a community to come together in order
to showcase the accomplishments of their youth. The current listing of county fairs is available by clicking here.
Camps and Conferences
different 4-H Camps and Conferences are offered throughout the year to provide
youth with additional positive youth development experiences. Some of these overnight
experiences will take place in various counties near your home, while others
take place overnight on Purdue’s campus or other locations in Indiana and around
the country. Click here for a list of current Camps and Conferences.
Extension 4-H Educators work with volunteers and leaders in the community
in order to offer hands on educational 4-H experiences for youth during the
afterschool hours. Often times, these experiences take place within a
preexisting afterschool program, but are certainly not limited to that. These
groups can be formed wherever young people are likely to gather. This may be a
school, the YMCA/YWCA, a community building, a public library, a church, a
shopping mall, or some other after-school gathering spot. This approach allows
youth who need focused and directed activity (nonformal learning and
recreation) to join together at a time when they are available.
These youth can achieve together in productive and
positive ways. An adult volunteer or staff member helps to oversee and direct
the youth in their activities.
These groups may meet
for several weeks while the young people and the adult pursue a meaningful 4-H project
or activity. The focus of the group may
range from career exploration to community service or discussions about
critical issues facing youth. These
activities can become a memorable and
valuable 4-H experience. It is also possible that these youth may then join in other 4-H activities and
gain additional benefits. If your child is
enrolled in an afterschool program, or you coordinate an afterschool program, contact your local
Purdue Extension 4-H Youth Development Educator to see how you can
integrate 4-H into your program.
Extension 4-H Youth Development Educators and volunteers have access to
experiential learning resources designed to supplement a specific learning
topic in a school based setting. Whether it is personal finance, living a
healthy lifestyle, or STEM related topics, we have research-based curriculum
that can help enhance the student’s experience.
Special Interest Programs
Special interest programs are made up of
youth who join with an adult volunteer to study one particular subject or
participate in one specific activity. These topics usually relate closely to
the prepared 4-H curriculum.
Special interest groups can form around agriculture (animals, plants, or outdoors), science, technology (robotics, aerospace,
photography, or mechanical science), food and fiber (nutrition, fitness, or
consumerism), or leisure (biking, acting, or singing). There is no limit
to the types of special interest groups that can be formed.
The unique aspect of the special interest
method is the way in which youth and adults focus on a common interest and
together learn and teach each other. Special interest groups do not usually
form a club and elect officers. The group does not continue from year to year. The group may have less
structure than a project club and be more like a school enrichment group, but be
unrelated to the formal school setting.
in a special interest group may trigger a longer-term 4-H commitment. Both
adults and youth are often attracted to a group that is meeting to pursue a special area of interest for a
short time. Examples of Special Interest Programs include SPARK Club, Teens as
Teachers, 4-H Fluid Power, Robotics Challenge, Experience 4-H @ Purdue, etc.
Partnerships create opportunities and bring community resources together to
provide support to military connected youth whether they live on or near an
installation, in our communities, or on overseas installations. 4-H clubs and
opportunities provide consistency in belonging and an opportunity to develop
life skills through a positive youth development framework. The 4-H Program is
built upon four Essential Elements ensuring that youth feel a sense of
belonging in a safe environment; develop independence in both group and
individual work; share with others in the community through generosity; and
develop a sense of mastery that continues throughout life as they practice and
share what they have learned with others. Through the 4-H Military Partnership,
Indiana 4-H is able to support the nearly 20,000 military youth of Indiana who
live in each of the 92 counties. As military families move frequently and
experience the difficulties surrounding deployment and reintegration, 4-H
provides predictable programming and a safe and nurturing environment for
military connected children and youth. Visit the Indiana 4-H Military
Collegiate 4-H is
a student-run organization at the college/university level that serves the
local community, promotes leadership development, and assists the Indiana 4-H
program. We also give students the opportunity to socialize with people of
similar backgrounds and interests. Visit the Purdue Collegiate