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4-H Member Resources

May 11, 2021
4-H Pledge

Brief History of 4-H

The first official 4-H club began in 1901 as a response to young people and their need for better agricultural education. To help meet this need, A.B. Graham, a school principal in Ohio, began to promote vocational agriculture in rural schools in out-of-school "clubs." In 1902, Graham formed a club of boys and girls with officers, projects, meetings, and record requirements.

He sought assistance of the Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station and Ohio State University. At the same time the club concept was adopted in Iowa by O.H. Benson in Wright County and Jessie Field Shambaugh in Page county. These club models engaged youth in activities that put their knowledge to practical use, thus creating the "learn by doing" mantra. 

Family Guide

4-H Mission

The Indiana 4-h Youth Development mission is to provide real-life educational opportunities that develop young people who positively impact their community and world.

4-H Vision

Indiana 4-H Youth Development strives to be the premier, community-based program empowering young people to reach their full potential.

4-H Educational Philosophy

The phrase "Learning by Doing" sums up the educational philosophy of the 4-H program. Young people learn best when they are involved in their learning.

4-H Pledge

The pledge tells what 4-H is about. The 4-H goal is the four-fold development of youth: Head, Heart, Hands and Health. The pledge was adopted by the delegates of the 1927 National 4-H Club Camp in Washington, D.C. State club leaders voted for and adopted the pledge for universal use. The phrase "and my world" was added in 1973. The saying of the pledge has a prominent place in 4-H activities, at regular 4-H meetings, achievement days and other club events.

 4-H Motto

The motto "To Make the Best Better" is intended to inspire young people to continue to learn and grow, to make their best efforts better through participating in educational experiences.

The green four-leaf clover with the white letter "H" in each leaf is the National 4-H Emblem. Green and white are the 4-H colors. Green is nature's most common color and symbolizes youth, life, and growth. White stands for purity and high ideals.

4-H Creed

I believe in 4-H Club work for the opportunity it will give me to become a useful citizen.

I believe in the training of my HEAD for the power it will give me to think, to plan and to reason.

I believe in training of my HEART for the nobleness it will give me to become kind, sympathetic, and true.

I believe in the training of my HANDS for the ability it will give me to be helpful, useful, and skillful.

I believe in the training of my HEALTH for the strength it will give me to enjoy life, to resist disease and to work efficiently.

I believe in my country, my State and my community and in my responsibility for their development.

In all these things I believe, and I am willing to dedicate my efforts to their fulfillment.

Member Re-Enrollment

The 4-H Program is open to ALL young people regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, or disability, who are at least 5 years of age for the Clover Kid program and 9 years of age for the CLUB Program prior to January 1st and not 19 years of age by January 1st of the 4-H Club year in which they enroll.

All new and returning members can enroll on 4hOnline by clicking here.

Community Service Defined

It is important to share kindness, but even more important to understand why youth or adults are sharing kindness. To help youth understand the difference between volunteerism, community service, service-learning and advocacy, here is a helpful guide adapted from University of Tennessee Cooperative Extension. It is encouraged that all leaders, parents, and adults also read and go over this with the youth in their clubs.

Service-learning is….

According to the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993, service-learning is a method whereby participants learn and develop through active participation in thoughtfully organized service that

  • Is organized in and meets the needs of a community;
  • Helps foster civic responsibility;
  • Enhances the educational component of the community service agency; and,
  • Provides structured time for participants to reflect on the service experience.

In short, service-learning is community service that teaches volunteers about themselves and the world around them.

Service-learning is NOT the same as…

  • Volunteerism- a term used to refer to people who choose on their own to perform some service for others without pay
  • Example: working concession stand at High School football game for free.
  • Community Service- volunteering done in the community (sometimes done through a court order or sentencing program)
  • Example: cleaning the floors at the local YMCA.
  • Youth Service- an umbrella term for all approaches to involving youth as resources in the community
  • Experiential Education- a broader term for various educational approaches that emphasizes learning by doing.

Types of Service:

  • Direct Service- Volunteers work directly with community members or those being served.
  • Example: Preparing and serving meals at a soup kitchen.
  • Indirect Service- Volunteers work on an issue from a more “behind the scenes” approach.
  • Example: Developing legislation to address and help solve an issue in their community.
  • Advocacy- Volunteers work to advocate for the alleviation of a community issue.
  • Example: Passing out flyers about homelessness and why it matters.
  • Service-learning is a form of experiential learning where students apply knowledge, skills, and decision-making to address community needs. This is the ideal community service we want to see in 4-H. Service-learning creates an atmosphere where youth continue to develop important life skills.

Elements of Service-learning

Youth Voice and Planning

Listening to and engaging youth in the service-learning process provides more ownership and greater learning opportunities for the young people.

Community Need and Voice

Service-learning projects should meet real community needs. To truly solve problems and provide authentic learning opportunities for youth, actively engage the community in identifying needs. For example, host a mini-community forum and invite community stakeholders to attend. Contact local officials and government for issues they feel need to be addressed in the community.

Learning Objectives

Youth should understand what they are expected to learn through their service. Outline objectives of what youth will learn on a personal, social, and intellectual level.

Orientation and Training

Provide effective service and maximize the learning experience, youth must understand all aspects of the project: issues, organization, expectations, atmosphere of service site, date and time, personalities of beneficiaries, legalities, skills for any equipment they may use, what could go wrong, etc.

Meaningful Service

A successful service experience requires thorough planning of goals, resources, supervision, transportation, logistics, and risk management.


Youth should employ critical thinking skills to examine the service experience. This proves helps youth to grow on a personal, social, and intellectual level.


Throughout the service experience, youth and adults should analyze the process (what was done) and the impact (result) of the service.

Celebration and Recognition

Youth should always be recognized and celebrated for providing valuable service to the community. Celebration can bring closure to the project and reinforces the value of the young people’s connection to what they accomplished.

What doesn’t count as any type of service?

The following should not be advertised to 4-H members as community service:

  • Bake Sales- these are fundraisers for the club unless specified otherwise
  • Parades- serve as an opportunity to promote and market 4-H and should be listed under Communications in record sheets
  • Petting Zoos- Public relations, marketing and promotion of 4-H and should be listed under Communications. These are sometimes fundraisers as well.
  • Caroling- If it is just listed as ‘caroling’, it is not service. However, if there is more description: “Christmas caroling at local nursing home for elderly who do not have families to spend the holidays with.” Then it is service.

This guide only briefly describes the differences between different types of service. The key to remember for any service project or activity is to ask these questions:

  • Why are we doing this activity?
  • How does it impact the community?
  • Who will this impact or help?
  • What will I learn? or What did I learn by participating in this activity?

If you cannot answer these questions, you should not do the activity as it is more than likely not service-learning or meaningful service. You must understand the ‘WHY’ before you can learn from giving to others.

What is Your  Definition of Service?

People define service in many different ways. To help get your team or club “on the same page,” here is a list of some examples of service. Study the list carefully. Rank the list from 1-14. Place a “1” next to the action that most closely represents your personal philosophy of what Service-Learning is. Place “2’ next to the action that is the second closest to your philosophy of service, etc.

Go over everyone’s answers and discuss as a group.

____ Joining the armed forces.
____ Providing a dinner once a week at a homeless shelter
____ Talking with a friend.
____ Chaining yourself to an old growth tree as long as you can, so loggers will not take it.
____ Leaving your car and biking to work or school every day.
____ Giving $50 to the United Way.
____ Walking a frail person across a busy street.
____ Giving blood.
____ Tutoring a person that cannot read.
____ Adopting an eight-year old boy.
____ Picking up trash in the neighborhood.
____ Hawaiian youth teaching tourists to say, “Mahalo.”
____ Working as a legislative aide.
____ Donating canned goods to the local food drive

Good Examples of 4-H Community Service 

  • Park Clean-up
  • Using photography skills to help animal shelters market adoptable pets
  • Volunteering at senior-assisted living home, veterans hospital, youth mentoring program (Big Brothers Big Sisters or Boys and Girls Club), adult center, etc.
  • Planning and implementing a county-wide food drive
  • Organizing a blanket drive for ill-stricken youth or soldiers
  • Adopt-a-Soldier(link is external)/Adopt-a-Platoon(link is external)
  • Organizing a blood-drive

Examples of Non-Meaningful vs. Meaningful Community Service

  • Babysitting for free vs. Tutoring youth after-school
  • Helping at a food drive vs. Organizing a food drive
  • Mopping floors at a rec. center vs. Beautifying a community park

Community service should impact you just as much as it impacts the community. Visit University of Nebraska-Lincoln's 366 Community Service Ideas(link is external) for more ways to volunteer. When choosing a community service activity, use the questions below to help direct your decision. These questions will also help you determine what you learned from the community service activity or 4-H event.

Reflecting on Your 4-H Experiences

  • Who did I help?
  • Why did I participate in this activity?
  • How did my participation in this activity benefit my community?
  • What did I know about my community before participating in this activity?
  • What do I know about my community after completing in this activity?
  • What did my community look like before I participated in this activity?
  • What does my community look like after I completed this activity?
  • What did I learn by participating in this activity?
  • How could I have improved my experience during this activity?
  • What would I keep the same?
  • Did I meet new people? If so, who? What did he, she, or they teach me?
  • What new skills did I learn?
  • Which of my skills did I discover need improvement?

For those who are club officers, you will find the 4-H Club Officer Manuals to be very helpful. (under construction)

Not sure how to do a demonstration? Check out the Demonstrations handout and Demonstrations Worksheet to help you plan a successful demo.

As a club member, it is important to know Parliamentary Procedure since majority of 4-H meetings are conducted this way. Feel free to print, cut out cards, and share with other club members.


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