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The 4-H Club Journey: Starting a Club

Learning Objectives

  • Participant will identify the requirements for a 4-H Club.
  • Participant will identify the steps in establishing and organizing a 4-H Club.
  • Participant will identify the content of initial 4-H Club Meetings.

What is a 4-H Club?

Community 4-H clubs are the cornerstone of the West Virginia 4-H Program. Clubs meet in schools, faith-based locations, or community centers. A 4-H club is an organized group of five or more youth from three different families, where youths lead regularly scheduled meetings, with adults serving as advisers and in supportive roles. These meetings are a place where youths will learn new things, make decisions, share ideas, and have fun. The 4-H motto is “Learn by Doing” and is the driving factor behind all club activities (WVU Extension Service, 2015).

What are the requirements for a 4-H Club?

  • A 4-H club is comprised of at least five youth members (from at least three families) and two vetted adult volunteer leaders.
  • Youth ages 8 (by June 30th) to 21 may join 4-H as members. A pre 4-H program, called “Cloverbuds” is designed for youth ages 5 to 7 years old.
  • A 4-H club meeting consists of a short business meeting, an educational lesson or activity, and recreation time. 4-H club members complete community service projects, learn new skills, make new friends and most important, have lots of fun!
  • Community clubs usually meet monthly and meetings last one to two hours.  There should be at least six meetings a year.  The 4-H year begins in October.
  • SPIN clubs (SPecial INterest clubs), specialty clubs, and school-based clubs that meet during the school year are options for 4-H clubs for individuals who want a shorter commitment.  

Becoming a 4-H Volunteer

Adult volunteers play an important role in the 4-H program. Volunteers can coordinate clubs and help to plan and conduct local, regional, state and national 4-H events (Butterfield, & et al. 2017).  Potential volunteers must complete the volunteer vetting process to be considered for a volunteer position, in accordance with the WVU Volunteer Policy (WVU Extension Service. 2020).

Steps in Starting a 4-H Club

Before you start a club, you need to decide:

  • Is there interest for a club in your community?
  • Do you have the time to commit to the club? Besides the monthly meetings, there will be time spent planning, coordinating events, contacting parents and officers, doing paperwork and attending county volunteer leader’s meetings.
  • Who will be the co volunteer leader? Are there other parents or adults willing to assist with your club? A minimum of two volunteers are required and three to five volunteers can more easily share the work.  
  • How often, when and where will your club meet? Will the club be project-based (focus on a specific project or project area, such as equine, livestock, cooking, etc.) or general with no specific focus area?

Steps in Establishing a 4-H Club:

  • Contact the County Extension Office and complete an application.
  • Recruit a second club volunteer leader who is not related to you.
  • Attend 4-H Volunteer/Leader Training/Meeting (scheduled by the County Extension Office) and become familiar with county and state 4-H policies and guidelines.
  • Recruit potential club members and other qualified adults and teens that can assist.  New volunteers need to contact the County Extension Office to apply to be a volunteer.
  • Set a date, time, and location for the first organization 4-H club meeting.
  • Notify County Extension Office of date, time, and location of first meeting so the Agent can attend.

A Basic 4-H Club Meeting Outline

(The components of a meeting can be arranged to fit the club's needs)

  • Pre-meeting - Bridges the gap between the time members begin to arrive and the time the meeting begins. (Can be either activities or refreshments)
  • Business portion (10-15 minutes) – Members learn how to conduct a meeting and practice democratic decision-making.
  • Educational program (30-45 minutes) – Usually project work but may involve special presentations or activities conducted by resource people, parents, or older members.
  • Recreation and Refreshments (15-20 minutes) – Provides members an opportunity to develop and practice social skills. It is important for them to have time to talk and develop connections with each other (Young, L. 2014).

Making it Real – Time to Get Going!

First Club Meeting Goals (Informal but Informational)

  • Introduction to 4-H
  • Do a “get to know you” ice breaker activity
  • Members learn about on-line enrollment
  • Decide on when and how often you want to meet
  • Decide on club name
  • Discuss officer roles. The following offices are available:
  1. President
  2. Vice President
  3. Secretary
  4. Treasurer
  5. Reporter
  6. Health Officer
  7. Song Leaders
  8. Recreation Leaders

Second Club Meeting Goals (Planning)

  • Elect club officers
  • Set goals for club
  • Plan club calendar (for at least next 6 months)
  • Begin club chartering process (this is the paperwork required to become an official 4-H club covered by WVU insurance and guidance)
  1. Create bylaws. The County Extension Office can provide samples.
  2. Complete the IRS Form to get a Tax ID Number.
  3. Open a bank account and have a copy of the bank statements sent to the Extension Office. Two signatures are required.
  4. Have a copy of the monthly minutes sent the Extension Office or submit as a part of the club secretary’s book at the end of the year.

Submit the following paperwork on Zsuite

  • Club Yearly Plan
  • Club Budget
  • List of Club Officers, Members, and Volunteers

The most important thing to remember in forming a 4-H club is “learning by doing”, so involve youth as much as possible. Make it THEIR club!

Club Tool Box (Materials Needed)

Enrollment Paperwork Check List
(Club Forms to complete and return to the WVU Extension Office)

  • Club Yearly Plan
  • Club Budget (If club has a bank account)
  • Club Publication Order Form
  • Club Officer List (If club has officers)
  • Club 4-H Volunteer Leaders List
  • Copy of By-Laws (Once and then if any changes are made)

Member Forms on ZSuite

  • Members Enrollment Form
  • Members’ 4-H Project Enrollment Form
  • Members’ 4-H Code of Conduct (Adult Code of Conduct for 18 to 21-year-old members)
  • Copy – Members’ 4-H Health Form
  • Waiver and Permission to Transport Child

Special Activity Forms

Some activities require approval by the County Extension Office.

  • 4-H Club Fundraiser Approval Form
  • Overnight Events Reporting Form

Learn More


  • Butterfield, J., Cletzer, A., Diem, K. G., Knowles, B., Jordan, J., McConnell, L., Pracht, D., Terry, B. (2017). 4-H Volunteer Training Series: How to Start a 4-H Club. Retrieved from .
  • WVU Extension Service. (2015) Welcome to 4-H Packet. 4-H Youth Development, Morgantown, WV. Retrieved from .
  • WVU Extension Service. (2020). 4-H Youth Development Volunteer Selection Process. 4-H Youth Development Program Morgantown, WV. Retrieved from
  • Young, L. (2014). So You Want to Start a 4-H Club? Packet. North Carolina State University. Retrieved from 4-H Peer Reviewed Checkmark of Approval.
Author: Amanda Johnson, WVU Extension Agent, Jefferson County
Published: September 2022

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