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What is a 4-H SPIN Club?

Learning Objectives

  • Participants will understand steps to offer local Special Interest (SPIN) Clubs.
  • Participants will describe the difference between SPIN clubs and traditional 4-H clubs.
  • Participants will list examples of different types of SPIN Clubs.

Essential Elements: Belonging, Independence, Mastery, and Generosity


4-H SPIN clubs are Special Interest clubs that are an alternative to traditional 4-H community clubs. SPIN clubs focus on a certain topic and meet for a brief period. These clubs can be used to target non-traditional 4-Hers or to provide experiences that are not a part of traditional clubs. SPIN clubs can reoccur each year or be a one-season experience. There are many different time models, but they typically run for four to six weeks.

In a study at the University of Idaho, Texas A&M University, and California Polytechnic State University, it was found that there was a higher attendance rate at SPIN Club meetings overall compared to a regular 4-H club meeting (Taggart, Ellis, Jiang, & Lacanienta, 2019) because the youth are more likely to attend something they are interested in, rather than a normal business meeting.

First Steps

Decide on the focus and scope of the club before starting the club meetings. If there are too many ideas or topics to cover, you will miss the goal of providing an in-depth educational experience on a topic.

Recruit the volunteer leadership and support. Sharing the work is helpful and more fun. SPIN clubs require two vetted adult volunteers and follow the same volunteer rules as community clubs.

Promote to both current 4-H members and youth who are not enrolled in 4-H. If you are providing a club that is of interest to youth in your community, reach out to them and invite them to join your SPIN Club. This is a wonderful way to introduce families in your community to the 4-H program.

Decide if a participation fee is needed. A fee may be charged if additional supplies are needed for the club to effectively meet. For example, if the cooking SPIN club needs to buy food to prepare, then a small fee from each member may be appropriate. If there is a need for a fee, make sure it affordable for families. Follow 4-H financial best practices with fees.

Find a Location. When deciding on a place to hold your SPIN club make sure it is an accessible meeting space for everyone. Some things to consider:

  • are there stairs that would hinder someone in a wheelchair?
  • is the kitchen big enough so all members can work?
  • is there an available bathroom if it is an outdoor meeting space?

Schedule the meetings. The schedule for a SPIN club is dependent on the time needed to cover the topic. You will need five to eight sequential learning experiences. It is recommended that you meet for two-hour sessions each time, but if two three-hour sessions or six one-hour sessions work better that is possible. Note – In most cases there will not be a business meeting for SPIN Clubs, however at times youth may need to make decisions as part of a SPIN club.  

Specific dates for the club sessions should be announced before the start of the first club meeting. Take into consideration the transportation needs of the youth, the time of year you are having the meetings, and other activities that the youth may be involved in while planning your meeting times.

Promotion and Recruitment. Once the plan for the SPIN club is in place, promotion is important. Be sure to work with the county Extension Office to promote the club through social media, schools, and local news outlets.

Volunteers are Key

Volunteers are critical to having a successful SPIN Club. What is your passion? Turn that into a SPIN club and help kids find their passion. SPIN clubs need to follow the proper youth to adult ratio required by your university and volunteers must be fully vetted.

If a community club is adapting the SPIN model for its educational component, identify and recruit a specific volunteer to lead that portion. Involve community club members in choosing the topic. The members can then choose a topic they want and are not tied to the club leader’s area of expertise.

It is important to recruit and match volunteers for specific roles in the club so that one volunteer is not doing everything for the club. For example, one volunteer could do the attendance and monitor behavior while another volunteer leads the lesson or program.

Making it Real


Examples of SPIN Clubs

  • Shooting Sports Club
  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Club
  • Livestock Club
  • Global Culture
  • International Cuisine Club
  • Hiking or Outdoor Club
  • Fishing Club

Club Toolbox

From crafts and animal science projects to shooting sports and technology, Utah 4-H has a great collection of curricula specifically designed for the short-term 4-H experience. Simply fill out the survey and you can download the curriculum for free! This can be accessed at https://utah3h.org/discover/.

Other useful resources include:

  • WVU Extension Youth Development Skill-a-thons
  • WVU Extension Adult Educational Lessons
  • National 4-H Curriculum

Learn More

To learn more about SPIN Clubs, visit the University of Maine’s Extension website ( https://extension.umaine.edu/4h/volunteers/spin-club/), your local Extension office, or talk with other SPIN Club volunteers.


Sources

  • 4-H SPIN Club (2016).  Cooperative Extension: 4-H, The University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Retrieved from https://extension.umaine.edu/4h/volunteers/spin-club/
  • Burnside, J., & Cowger, T. (2019). SPIN Clubs. SPIN Clubs, 4-H Youth Development, West Virginia University Extension Service, Morgantown, WV.
  • University, Utah. (n.d.). Discover 4-H Clubs. Retrieved September 17, 2020, from https://utah3h.org/discover/
  • Taggart, A. S., Ellis, G. D., Jiang, J., & Lacanienta, A. (2019). Using Experience Industry Strategies to Increase Quality of Youth Program Experiences. Journal of Youth Development, 14(4), 59–82. doi: 10.5195/jyd.2019.749 National 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