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About Union County 4-H

4-H Information

About 4-H

The 4-H youth development program is a great opportunity where youth are able to learn by doing. 4-H is the world’s largest youth serving organization with more than 6 million participants nationally. It is an informal hands-on educational program that is dedicated to the growth and development of boys and girls, ages 5-19, of all racial, cultural, economic and social backgrounds, whether they live in the city or on the farm. The 4-H program offers more than 200 projects and activities for youth.

History of 4-H

Founded in the early 1900’s, the 4-H programs began throughout the country in response to young people and their need for a better agricultural education. Boys and girls clubs were established to meet this need. The majority of states organized clubs outside of schools with parents serving as volunteer leaders and Cooperative Extension Agents providing appropriate educational materials.

Since its inception, 4-H youth development programs have embraced several educational methods for serving America’s youth. While emphasis on education, ‘learning by doing’ and the development of young people continues, the form it takes addresses the changing issues and diverse backgrounds of today’s youth. The 4-H program may have started out as an agricultural learning resource for farmer’s children, but it has grown into much, much more.

Why do young people like 4-H?

Youth enjoy participating in the 4-H youth development programs because they are able to receive experiential learning opportunities on various topics that they may not necessarily receive at school. The topics range from aerospace, zoology, citizenship, leadership, sewing, livestock management and many others. The youth have an opportunity to take advantage of leadership roles, develop lasting friendships with likeminded youth, travel to different conferences and camps, develop new skills, receive awards and recognitions that can be a benefit in their future and mostly, they can decide what they want to learn and how.

About the 4-H Membership

What does it cost?

FREE! 4-H has no membership registration fee or required uniform. There may be minimal costs for project manuals and some 4-H activities and events.

 What is the age limit?

The 4-H program is open for youth between the ages of 5 to 19 years old.

How do you enroll in 4-H?

If you are interested in joining as an independent member, simply fill out an enrollment and medical form located on the Union County 4-H Youth Development Web site and submit it to the 4-H Extension Agent. If you are interested in joining a 4-H Club, it is easy. Look at the list of local clubs and see which one fits your schedule, age and interests. Send an email or call the Extension Office at (704) 283-3735, M-F 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. to let us know you want to join, and we will connect you with the club leader for more information on the club. When you attend your first club meeting, you will complete an enrollment packet, and that’s all there is to it – you’re a 4-H member now!

What are the different types of membership available?

Youth are able to join a community 4-H club, participate in their school classroom, or serve as an independent member.

As a club member, he or she will meet on a regular basis with trained, screened adult volunteer leaders who help with individual and club projects. Clubs typically are organized in three different age groups: 5-8, 9-12, and 13-18; however some clubs allow children ages 5-18 to all participate in the same club together then provide different learning experiences. 4-Hers plan their own programs, elect officers, and take part in community service projects. The Union County 4-H Clubs are explained in more details here.  

As a classroom participant, 4-H and local schools, both public and private, team up to offer classroom enrichment programs. Teachers reach out to the Extension Agent to obtain more information about this opportunity or visit here.

As an independent member, the 4-Her does not participate in an established 4-H club. However, he or she is still able to participate in county, district and state wide 4-H activities that are available every year.

What else can a 4-H member do outside of the local club?

4-H members can participate in a variety of county and state activities depending on their age and ability. Overall, the possibilities are endless. Different areas of interest lead to different opportunities. For more details, please click here.

County Workshops & Events: Members are encouraged to attend learning sessions scheduled throughout the year. Fun and competitive events like Public Speaking, Presentations, 4-H Entertains and others are offered annually. Many of these events earn trips to District, State and even National events.

4-H Teen Council: Teens age 13 and up meet bi-monthly to help plan county 4-H events, gain leadership skills, and plan community service projects they complete as a group. The County, District, and State Councils elect officers annually.

District and State Events: Teen Retreats, North Carolina 4-H Congress, District Activity Days, State Council Conferences.

National Recognition Trips: Teens can qualify for special trips to National 4-H Congress, National 4-H Conference, and other national opportunities.

Are there other opportunities for my youth to participate with in the 4-H program?

Yes, the Union County 4-H Youth Development offers Special Interests Programs throughout the year, which is open to all youth. Many children learn about 4-H through special interest activities. To obtain more information about the 4-H Special Interests Program, please click here.

About the Union County 4-H Clubs

What is a club?

A club is a group of five or more young people, guided by an adult leader. Members can elect officers and each member chooses one or more projects. Each club may explore a single subject or several subjects. 4-H members elect officers, conduct their own business, work together on community service activities, meet new friends, and most importantly, have lots of fun!

When do clubs meet and how long does a meeting last?

Most clubs meet once a month in the evenings, or after school year-round. The 4-H year runs from January 1 to December 31. Meetings usually last 1 hour to 1 ½ hours, depending of the members’ ages.

What do 4-H clubs do at meetings?

A typical club meeting will include opening pledges, a short business meeting for members to discuss future activities, a hands-on learning activity, and social time, which often includes recreation and refreshments.

Is there a limit to the number of club members per club?

The number of club members per club depends on the age of the members, the size of the facility, and the leadership available. The ideal club is big enough to have fun together, but small enough for everyone to feel a part of the group.

About the Curriculum and Projects

What is the main goal of 4-H?

The major goal of 4-H youth development programs is to assist youth in developing important life skills. A skill is a learned ability to do something well. Life skills are skills that help an individual to be successful in living a productive and satisfying life. Some important skills include: making decisions, solving problems, relating to others, planning and organizing, learning to learn, communicating with others, leading self and others, relating to change, and applying science and technology.

What subjects are 4-Hers interested in?

Plants and Animals
Healthy Lifestyle Education
Science and Technology
Personal Development and Leadership
Environmental Education and Earth Science
Communications and Expressive Arts Programs
Citizenship and Civic Education Programs
Consumer and Family Sciences

What are 4-H projects?

4-H projects are challenging, but practical, planned courses of study with learning experiences centered around a specific subject. Members usually work on a project (subject area) for a year at a time. Hands-on, learn-by-doing involvement is the most important aspect of a project. Making, growing, caring for, observing, and participating are all involved in 4-H projects. The areas range from traditional agricultural and horticulture to modern things like computers, aerospace and even pets!

One of the most important aspects of 4-H project work is that the 4-H member decides what they want to learn and do, as they explore the subject they have chosen. They may select one or more projects, and receive a project manual, which guides them through the activities. This allows the project to be self-paced, and gives children important skills in setting and working towards their goals.

What does a 4-H project cost?

It varies depending on the cost of supplies for the projects. The cost of the projects should be realistic to the family situation.

Are projects done individually or as a group?

Both. It varies among projects and among clubs. Some projects, like breads and visual arts, are more fun done as a group. Others, like making a dress or growing a garden, will be done individually. Some clubs have several project leaders and do specific project work at club meetings, while others rely on parents and family members, and to help members individually.

Written By

Photo of Dr. Laura ByrdDr. Laura ByrdExtension Agent, 4-H Youth Development (704) 283-3740 laura_byrd@ncsu.eduUnion County, North Carolina
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