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4-H Cloverbuds

A developmentally age appropriate program for youth, ages 5–7, that is noncompetitive, educational, activity-based, cooperative-learning centered, safe and success-oriented.

Learn about 4-H Cloverbuds

What is the 4-H Cloverbud program?

The Cloverbud program provides age appropriate activities designed for this age group in order to foster the development of life skills needed for cognitive, social, emotional and physical development by providing cooperative learning activities (Fleming et al., 2003). The 4-H Cloverbud program is designed to be noncompetitive, educational, activity-based, cooperative-learning centered, safe, developmentally age-appropriate and success-oriented (Scheer, 1997).

Download the Cloverbud Informational Booklet

Who can be a Cloverbud?

2023-2024 4-H Year - Youth with birthdates between July 1, 2015, and June 30, 2018
  • Youth can begin participating in the Cloverbud program if they are five years old on, or before, June 30, 2023. They will participate in the Cloverbud program until they are old enough to be classified as a traditional 4-H participant.
Birthdate Range of Possible Participants First Possible Date of 4-H Participation as Cloverbud Last Possible Date of 4-H Participation as Cloverbud
July 1, 2015 - June 30, 2016 October 1, 2021 September 30, 2024
July 1, 2016 - June 30, 2017 October 1, 2022 September 30, 2025
July 1, 2017 - June 30, 2018 October 1, 2023 September 30, 2026
July 1, 2018 - June 30, 2019 October 1, 2024 September 30, 2027
July 1, 2019 - June 30, 2020 October 1, 2025 September 30, 2028
July 1, 2020 - June 30, 2021 October 1, 2026 September 30, 2029
July 1, 2021 - June 30, 2022 October 1, 2027 September 30, 2030
July 1, 2022 - June 30, 2023 October 1, 2028 September 30, 2031
July 1, 2023 - June 30, 2024 October 1, 2029 September 30, 2032

Differences between 4-H Cloverbuds and 4-H members

Cloverbuds (5- to 7-year olds)
4-H Members (8- to 21-year olds)
Type of Learning
Activity Centered Project Centered
Type of Instruction
Leader Directed
Self-study, Individual, & Leader Directed
Recognition of Participation
Competition & Achievement
Learner Resources
Activity Manual for Helpers
Project Manual for Youths

What happens at a Cloverbud meeting?

Cloverbud members can be integrated into a regular club meeting with older 4-H members or a separate club involving Cloverbud members only. Either way, the meeting structure for Cloverbuds should run the same. Each activity should be short (5 to 10 minutes) and a meeting for Cloverbuds should last no longer than 60 minutes, preferably 30 to 45 minutes.

It is recommended that Cloverbuds take part in regular 4-H club meetings during the pledges and roll call, and then leave the meeting to do Cloverbud activities during the business portion of the meeting. Then, they should return to the club meeting to participate in recreation, programs, songs and refreshments.

Cloverbud FAQ

Question: Can Cloverbuds participate in county contests such as County Roundup or the Poster Contest?

Answer: Yes. Cloverbuds are welcome to participate noncompetitively in county activities like Roundup and poster contests. There should be a Cloverbud category for these contests that is set
up for all participants to receive the same recognition for their participation. Nothing should be judged. These Cloverbud opportunities stay at the county level and do not move to the state level.

Question: Can Cloverbuds exhibit at the County Fair?

Answer: Yes. Cloverbuds are encouraged to showcase something from their 4-H Cloverbud activities. Examples include something that they made during an activity; a poster/trifold showcasing
one or more Cloverbud activities; or notebook/ scrapbook of their Cloverbud activities. Cloverbud exhibits can be done individually or as a group. All exhibits created by Cloverbuds should be noncompetitive.

All Cloverbuds participating should receive the same recognition (ribbon, certificate, premium, incentive, award, etc.). Because county fair categories may be governed by a local fair board, reach out to your county Extension office to learn more opportunities for Cloverbuds to showcase their work.

Question: Can Cloverbuds complete a 4-H project?

Answer: No. The 4-H projects are used with regular 4-H members. Project books are typically completed independently by the 4-H member and graded competitively. The Cloverbud program should be activity-centered and encourage cooperative learning amongst Cloverbuds. Some Cloverbud programs will organize their activities into a notebook/scrapbook. Try to use terms like “notebook” or “activity book” to describe such a booklet. “Project book” is not a term that should be used with Cloverbuds.

Question: Can Cloverbuds exhibit livestock?

Answer: No, West Virginia 4-H Cloverbuds are not allowed to exhibit livestock. Kansas’ 4-H program explains it well:

“The 4-H Cloverbuds program is tailored to youth, with concerns for a child’s physical, mental and emotional development. The physical difference in stature between a child and livestock can endanger a child. A child’s maturity level and lack of understanding of animal behaviors also can increase the risk to the child. And, while a child may seem capable of handling livestock on the family farm and/or in familiar settings, managing livestock in a public setting can add stress and increase the risks for the child, the livestock and others who may be in the area. Allowing a young child to exhibit livestock in a public arena also increases the liability for all concerned.” (Kansas 4-H Office, n.d.)

Question: Can Cloverbuds go to camp?

Answer: Cloverbuds may attend day camps specifically designed to meet their developmental characteristics and needs. A Cloverbud day camp involves youths for one day, or a series of days, at a camp-like setting where educational, hands-on activities occur. Day camps for Cloverbuds should have a minimum adult to camper ratio of one adult per every six youths with a minimum of two adults. Overnight camping with Cloverbuds is not permitted in the West Virginia 4-H program.

Question: How can I recognize Cloverbuds?

Answer: Cloverbuds should be recognized for their participation in 4-H activities. Typical forms of formal recognition include ribbons and certificates. However, more informal recognition, like applause or a How How during a club meeting or activity, is also appropriate. Since Cloverbuds are noncompetitive, all participants should receive the same recognition (ribbon, certificate, premium, incentive, award, etc.).

Many county 4-H programs have invested in special Cloverbud ribbons that are different in color or style than ribbons used for regular 4-H member recognition. Some counties recognize Cloverbuds who are aging out of the program and moving on to become a regular 4-H member with a
Cloverbud pin to recognize their participation in the Cloverbud program.


Clover Kids/Cloverbuds Study Group (2018). Findings from National Survey and Research Review. Program Leader’s Working Group (unpublished report)

Ferrari, T.M., Hogue, C.A., Scheer, S.D. (2004) Parents' Perceptions of Life Skills Development in the 4-H Cloverbud Program. Journal of Extension [Online], 42 (3). Previously available at:

Fleming, K. et al. (2003). NYS 4-H Cloverbud Leader Handbook. Cornell Cooperative Extension, 6/2003. Available at:

Kansas 4-H Office. (n.d.). Kansas 4-H Cloverbuds’ Tips for Parents and Children. K-State Research and Extension. Available at:

Murray, J., Blosser, N., Deem, S., Johnson, A., Smith, J. (2018) West Virginia 4-H Cloverbud Survey. West Virginia University Extension Service (unpublished report)

Ohio 4-H Youth Development. (n.d.). Learn about Ohio Cloverbuds. Ohio State University Extension. Available at:

Scheer, S.D. (1997). Program parameters for 5- to 8-year-old children in 4-H. Journal of Extension [Online], 35(4). Previously available at: