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Finding Your Fit with Engaging Club Programs

Learning Objectives

  • Participants will list creative and educational program ideas for club meetings.
  • Participants will create a club program chart or calendar. 

Essential Elements: Belonging and Mastery


An important component of any 4-H meeting is the program. Good 4-H club programs do not magically appear – they are planned. Choosing programs for the year is often the first step in mapping out the club’s activities and helping guide youths in their own development and learning.  

Fun and interesting programs will keep members coming back for more. Keep programs fresh by brainstorming ideas with club officers and teen leaders. Finding a club’s program fit is about selecting programs of interest to the group. When leaders, club officers, and members work together to identify programs of interests and to make the program happen, youths will be more engaged and committed to the club.

Some programs are repeated yearly with a community. Care should be taken that these “traditions” are based on member needs and interests, rather than “we’ve always done this.” Discuss with members if they want to continue this program tradition or try something new.

As a club leader, it can be challenging to organize activities and programs. A guide or chart like the one below makes planning monthly activities easier. It is possible to create these charts in your 4-H registration system and then easily share it with families. The chart must be updated yearly, and activities should be youth led or driven.

Sample Club Program Guide:

October

  • Program: New 4-H Year (enrollment & Elections)
  • Snacks: Wilfong Family
    • Submit all enrollment forms before next meeting.

November

  • Program: Hunting Safety
  • Speaker – DNR Officer
  • Snacks: Streets Family
  • Community Service: Bring can goods for community baskets

December

  • Program: Holiday Party
  • Snacks: Club – Pizza
  • Members bring favorite snack
  • Bring a $10 dollar gift for the gift exchange.

January

  • NO MEETING
  • Work on Posters for the State Contest
  • Sledding Trip – January 25th 2pm-4pm

February

  • Program: Dental Health
  • Speaker – Local Dentist
  • Snacks: Burns & Adams Family
  • Community Service: Bring can items for Cortland Acres Residence

March

  • Program: Food Handler’s Card
  • Speaker – County Sanitarian
  • Snacks: Thompson Family
  • Community Service: Write a thank you note to local officials

April

  • Program: Don’t Be a Bully
  • Speaker – FRN
  • Snacks: Ware & Lewis Family
  • Community Service: Dog Walk to support local animal shelter

May

  • Program: Talks and Demonstrations
  • Speaker – Burns & Adams Family
  • Snacks: Club Picnic
  • Fundraiser: Chicken Burn
    • Each family bring 2 desserts

June

  • P rogram : Fly Fishing & Fly Tying
  • Speaker – Local Angler
  • Snacks: Mullenax & Auvil Family

July

  • Program: Bike Safety
  • Speaker – Extension Agent
  • Snacks: Walker & Alt Family
    • Bring bike for bike ride & project books are due!

August

  • FAIR – NO MEETING
  • All Exhibits are dropped off on August 24 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

September

  • Program: STEM Night
  • Speaker – Teen Leader
  • Snacks: Betts Family
    • Turn in Rada Fundraiser. Delivery November meeting

Note: The sample club program guide shares many program ideas; however, clubs may choose to do an activity, such as a hike or bicycle ride, instead of a program. Some clubs may not meet in July to prepare exhibits for the fair.

Making It Real: Club Program Ideas

Visual Presentations by club members. Club members are an excellent resource for programs and members enjoy learning from each other. Members are required to do a talk or demonstration for their project. Allow time for them to sign up at the beginning of the 4-H year so that they will be prepared.

Presentations by community members. Kids love to hear information from people they look up to in their communities. Take a poll during your first club meeting of the year to see what members would be interested in learning about or activities they would like to do. Club programming can take place somewhere other than the regular meeting location – be sure to list it on the club plan and let your extension office know the change of the plan.

Community Presenters Ideas. Involve youths in asking the presenter and ask them to include a hands-on activity as a part of the presentation.

  • Local Police Officers
  • Natural Resource Police
  • Local Veterinarian
  • Local Trappers
  • Fly Fishing/Fly Tying Expert
  • Extension Agent
  • County Sanitarian
  • Teachers
  • Past 4-Her’s share careers
  • Health Rocks!

Project Workshops. This offers a time for members and parents to ask questions about the projects that the members are taking. A good time to schedule this program would be 2-3 months after the members have received their project books. If your state has specific guidelines, this would be a good time to let families know expectations for completing their project books.

Poster & Photo Workshops. Get those creative juices flowing, bring art supplies and poster board to allow members to create their own posters for the state poster contest. Bring copies of the rules to share. Remember construction paper or cardstock for members to mount their photos for the photo contest. Help them create catchy captions for their photos and make sure they are ready for submission.

Health Officer Activities. During the winter months when most meetings are held inside is a good Please time for your health officer(s) to present additional topics in the health officer books that they would not have covered already. Teach about making healthy snacks or ways to stay active during the winter months.

Take a Bike Ride. Bike rides are great spring club activities. The weather is beautiful, and the members will enjoy being outdoors with their friends. To make sure everyone has access to a bicycle, ask families to bring extras if they have them, or ask your local bike shop if you could borrow them. During this time, include some visual presentations and have a club picnic.

Community Service. In the fall before the cold weather, or in the spring once winter is past, are great times for outdoor community service projects. Planting trees, painting projects, community gardens, Adopt-A-Highway, or Adopt-A-Spot are ways to get members involved with the community and outside.

Club Tool Box

  1. Facilitate a brainstorm of club program ideas with youths.
  2. Create a chart or club calendar together for the year.
  3. Schedule youth project presentations throughout the year.
  4. Invite community members to present hands-on learning experiences.
  5. Hold workshops for poster/photo contests, member projects, and special club projects.
  6. Be creative with community service projects.
  7. Plan a new and unique outdoor activity each year.

Learn More

To learn more ideas for club programs, check out the 4-H.org website, contact your local Extension Office, or talk with other 4-H volunteer club leaders.


Sources
  • 4-H Programs - STEM, Health, Agriculture & Civic Engagement. (2020). Retrieved from https://4-h.org/parents/programs-at-a-glance/
  • Guffey, A. (2020). 4-H Virtual Leader Handbook. Retrieved from https://www.extension.iastate.edu/scott/page/4-h-virtual-leader-handbookNational 4-H Peer Reviewed Checkmark of Approval.
Authors: Brooke Alt, WVU Extension Agent, Pendleton County, and Jesica Streets, WVU Extension Agent, Tucker County
Published: September 2022

Strong 4-H Clubs Series passed National 4-H Peer Review in February 2022