4-H: All Access...making 4-H Accessible to All
Friday, February 14, 2020
Posted by: Sarah E. Morefiled, University of Missouri
In the state of Missouri, and many other states, traditionally 4-H has been delivered in community clubs that are family based and operate outside of any particular school, church or other identifying community. This Community Club model has proven to offer the youth an opportunity for positive youth development. However, there is a large section of the population who has not found their way to 4-H within this model, mainly due to the expectations of the parents’ involvement. New 4-H delivery modes have been proposed in order to achieve the national goal of reaching 10 million youth by 2025. The new delivery modes include Special Interest Clubs (SPIN Clubs), and in-school or after school settings project experiences. Many of these modes created are focused on one aspect of the 4-H program typically a single project area, but the 4-H: All Access model seeks to bring the traditional leadership and citizenship components such as parliamentary procedure in addition to the project experience. 4-H: All Access model could be tied to academic and social/emotional learning standards. Once youth or club leaders make a project choice, more standards can be met specifically within that content area. The 4-H: All Access model components include a Business Meeting, Program and Presentation to practice and showcase public speaking skills and Project Meetings. While the 4-H: All Access model may be missing the family involvement component, the meetings are open for parents to volunteer and join if their schedule allows. Even without parent involvement, these clubs still showcase the positive youth and adult partnership by including teen and adult leaders and volunteers. These youth are also invited to join in any other county/regional aspects of the 4-H program allowing their families to be involved in those areas. 4-H: All Access may contribute to bridging the community club experience to other settings. During the presentation the author will share the model, its tie to the department of education standards and the evaluation, as well as the other opportunities offered and embraced by participants within this model.
What is the MO 4-H: All Access Program Model?
People typically respond to 4-H with either feelings of nostalgia or a lack of recognition. While the first 4-H clubs began in 1912 and were formalized with the Clover symbol by 1924 ("History of 4-H Youth Development Organization", 2020) many people are unaware of what this youth development organization truly does. Historically, 4-H has been brought to communities in one of two forms; through schools or through the community. In Missouri, we have traditionally had community clubs that are family based and operate outside of any particular school, church or other identifying community. There is a large section of the population who has not found their way to 4-H within this model, so many states have started to look to new models as additions to the community club. 4-H: All Access Program Model is one solution in MO to how to reach new audiences by bringing the 4-H program to students in before and after care.
The 4-H: All Access model could be tied to academic and social/emotional learning standards. Once a child or club leaders make a project choice, more standards can be met specifically within that content area.
Why start a 4-H: All Access Club?
The 4-H: All Access program model is designed to bring the community 4-H Club experience into the world of before and after school programming. National 4-H Council has announced a bold goal of reaching 10 million
4-Her’s by 2025. Not only is National 4-H Council aiming high for the pure numbers of youth affected by 4-H in our country, but they have stated that the programs should be a clear representation of the diversity within our nation. We cannot keep doing the same thing in the same way and meet the expectations of growth laid out in front of us. According to the Pew Research Center in December of 2019, 23% of children in the US are living in single parent homes. (Kramer, "U.S. has world's highest rate of children living in single-parent households", 2019) The 2018 Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that 63% of two parent households in the US have both parents employed. ("Employment Characteristics of Families Summary", 2019) Based on those statistics, we are looking at roughly 86% of youth living in homes with only working parents leaving 14% of youth at home with at least one non-working parent that may be easily available to join or participate in activities such as a community club model in 4-H. We know that many working parents strive to participate in such activities as well, but the community club model was not designed to take that into account. We have to understand and accept this new reality and adapt with it to ensure our 4-H program is reaching as many youth and families as possible while holding true to our core values and what makes our youth development program unique.
As a response to the statistics mentioned above, the 4-H: All Access model was created. In this model, we bring the 4-H club to school and after school settings in a way that still showcases leadership, citizenship, experiential learning and public speaking. It is crucial to bring all aspects of the 4-H experience, not just the project curriculum in order to follow the principals of Positive Youth Development which guide the National 4-H program. The project piece and experiential learning is only one aspect of the 4-H program and the 4-H: All Access model strives to bring all of the components to youth in before and after school settings so that their 4-H experience is comparable to any other youth participating in the community club 4-H setting.
4-H Community Club Components:
1. Business Meeting
2. Program and Presentation to practice and showcase public speaking skills
3. Project Meetings – sometimes held during the community club meeting and sometimes held outside of the community club meeting
4. Family involvement – clubs are joined as a family and parental involvement at the club and project level is expected
4-H: All Access Components:
5. Business Meeting
6. Program and Presentation to practice and showcase public speaking skills
7. Project Meetings
While we may be missing the family involvement component, these meetings are open for parents to volunteer and join if their schedule allows. Even without parent involvement, these clubs still showcase the positive youth and adult partnership by including teen and adult leaders and volunteers. These youth are also invited to join in any other county/regional aspects of the 4-H program allowing their families to be involved in those areas.
Please keep in mind that this program can and should be altered to fit the needs of your specific population and community that you are partnering with. Below is the general guidelines I provide my partners when we discuss how to tailor it best for them.
1. All youth that opt into 4-H should be enrolled 4-H members. It is up to the 4-H staff/faculty member in that county to determine the type of enrollment appropriate. I recommend having full paper enrollments for all youth regardless of which type of enrollment that is entered into the computer system.
a. Individual enrollments are preferred in order to maintain better contacts with families since there is minimal family involvement. This allows for these families to be included on county communication such as newsletters and also to show up in project categories for county leaders/county events.
2. Funds need to cover relevant state dues per 4-H member. County dues are waived until more information is known regarding how many county events attended/costs that would be associated with these members.
3. Each club should meet once a week for at least 30 minutes. The suggested schedule is as follows;
a. 1st week: Focus on the youth led business meeting with elected officers. Each meeting there should be at least one motion brought to a vote even if you are simply voting on that days snack or the next project choice.
b. 2nd week: Focus on public speaking and demonstrations. Have speakers come in to discuss project topics or have youth members do short demonstrations on any skills they have learned and want to teach.
c. 3rd and 4th weeks: Focus on project activities. Each club is choosing to do one project at a time but will do a variety of projects throughout the year. All projects should have a fair
exhibit by the culmination of the project but they can be individual or group exhibits to enter. All projects are adapted to fit the time schedule, resources and budget of the before/after school world.
4. Clubs should participate in at least one service activity throughout the year and report that information to the county 4-H office.
5. End of year reports/awards have not been required but are made available for anyone interested.
At the conclusion of the 4th weeks meeting, these youth have had the same 4-H experience as a community club member would at their one monthly meeting.
4-H: All Access Experience:
- North Kansas City School District in all Adventure Club Sites (21 Elementary School Sites)
- Kearney Firehouse Community Center Sparks Studio After School Program
Overall, Clay County 4-H has shown through participant survey that 89% of our 4-H: All Access youth like to learn about people who are different from them and 98% show respect for other’s ideas. When looking at their motivation to learn and try, 94% of participants are willing to work on something difficult and 84% learn from their mistakes. 98% of our youth like to learn new things and 89% are even willing to try something when they think they might fail.
For the 2018-2019 4-H year, the first full year of the 4-H: All Access program, each member received a membership pin at their October meeting. Below is a quote from one of the club leaders regarding their youth receiving their membership pins.
“They were so excited. I tried to explain the importance of not losing them. Maybe attach them to something at home like a piece of cardstock and leave it on their desks in their rooms or on their backpacks. The children who weren't here last year were very envious.”
Parent comments regarding their child’s involvement:
“My son really enjoyed the 4-H experience this past year.”
4-H youth comments regarding their experience:
As a result of being in 4-H this year, I plan to….
“…go to 4-H and have fun and learn”
“…work hard, do more robotics and try more inventions”
“…be an engineer”
“…do more creative things”
“…do other 4-H projects”
“…make products and see if they actually sell”
What do you need to start a 4-H: All Access club?
Partners you need: The model can be replicated in any school system during their before or after school hours. However, it is easiest to replicate in a school system that utilizes an independent organization for their before/after school care such as the Y, Adventure Club, Kids Zone etc. Working with an organization that has their own staffing is what provides the sustainability for this model. Relying on extension staff or teachers to stay past contract hours make this model much harder to sustain.
- Funding you need: First consider what, if any, program costs exist within your state and county structure. Ensure that you are budgeting to cover those fees first. Programming supplies/cost of
materials are paid by the school/after school staff but curriculum is supplied by the Youth Development Faculty in the county.
- Resources you need: A club leader manual with resources about the 4-H program, conducting meetings, events/recognition etc. is supplied to each club site as it would be supplied to a community club leader. The state office supplies each club with a welcome kit including flags, the gavel and other necessary items to hold a business meeting. Each club also requires project curriculum to be successful and that is provided by the Extension Office. The sites themselves provide all supplies/materials needed to complete their projects.
Lessons learned and mistakes to avoid:
1. The project catalog is A LOT: When talking to an organization unfamiliar with 4-H, our full Clover Catalog can be very overwhelming. Instead of approaching them with all the project options; ask
what types of project activities they have access to already and then share projects in the clover that are different from what they already have.
2. Be Patient: It will not come together, paperwork and all, right away. Be patient and be willing to make exceptions as you get started. We had many youth participating in 4-H whose parents didn’t initially turn in enrollment forms. Instead of stressing about getting a form for every child – focus on the programming. The forms continued to be submitted as the youth got involved and came home talking about 4-H.
3. Be willing to think outside the box: When we brought our after-school club kids to the fair, I knew that we did not have the resources to judge over 300 stationary exhibits and I knew that the site club leaders did not have the space to store individual projects. We decided that instead they would enter group projects as stationary exhibits. Each child received the ribbon earned for that project but they presented to the judge one item as a small group. It was manageable for all parties and still allowed the youth to experience the fair.
4. Invite them into the community: Do not make assumptions about whether they will enjoy more traditional community events. Always send the invite. When we were able to bring the after school clubs to the fair at the end of the 2nd year by making our Friday fair day their weekly field trip; it was a major turning point for anyone in the Adventure Club organization who was not totally sold on the
4-H experience yet. Watching the youth get their ribbons for the first time and seeing the club leaders realize how it all came together was worth every effort taken by our office to make the day feasible.
Employment Characteristics of Families Summary. (2019, April 18). Retrieved February 14, 2020, from https://www.bls.gov/news.release/famee.nr0.htm
History of 4-H Youth Development Organization. (n.d.). Retrieved February 14, 2020, from https://4-h.org/about/history/
Kramer, S. (2019, December 12). U.S. has world's highest rate of children living in single-parent households. Retrieved February 14, 2020, from https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/12/12/u-s-children-more-likely-than-children-in-other-countries-to-live-with-just-one-parent/