4-H Member Policies C.1

C.1.1 4-H Membership Age

The official age range for 4‑H Membership in Maine is 5 to 18. “4‑H Age” is defined as the age of the individual on December 31 for the current 4‑H Year. The official 4-H year runs from October 1 of one calendar year to September 30 of the next. Participation in Fryeburg Fair activities in October is considered as part of the previous 4-H year.

For example: If Johnny Smith is 8 years old on December 31and turns 9 on January 1, then in accordance with Maine’s 4-H age policy, Johnny would be 8 years on in 4-H age for the current enrollment year.

Every youth who joins 4‑H in Maine will be known as a “4‑H Member.” Terms such as “pixie” are no longer used. 4‑H Youth Development Programs, events and activities need to be designed and conducted for specific ages within the official enrollment range. Therefore, it is acceptable, for example, to restrict a specific activity to 5 to 8 year-olds, the Maine 4‑H Teen Conference to 12 to 18 year-olds, or 4‑H Shows at Agricultural Fairs to 9 to 18 year-olds with special classes for 5 to 8 year-olds.

C.1.2 Eligibility for Enrollment

Any individual who meets the age requirements for 4-H enrollment may enroll as a 4-H member in Maine and participate fully in any and all 4-H programs appropriate to their age and capabilities conducted by the Maine 4-H Youth Development Program, including individuals who live outside the State of Maine.

Renewing members and clubs are expected to re-enroll between October 1 and December 31 each year.  New members may enroll at any time.  A new member is defined as someone who has not been enrolled in 4-H in Maine (in any county) for the past year or more or is completely new to the Maine 4-H program. However, both new and re-enrolling members must be enrolled by December 31 to participate in events and activities such as, but not limited to, state-wide market animal auctions, Eastern States Exposition competitions, National 4-H Congress, National 4-H Conference, and to be eligible for 4-H post-secondary scholarships.

In order to participate in county/state fairs, re-enrolling members must meet the December 31 deadline and new members need to be enrolled by April 1.  See the county 4-H staff for additional details.


C.1.2.a 4-H Independent Membership

The Maine 4-H Program recognizes independent 4-H member(s) as a form of program membership/delivery.

All Maine independent 4-H members must complete, turn-in and have approved at their county 4-H office a Maine 4-H charter letter. The Maine 4-H Charter letter will define the following parameters:

  1. How the individual can use the 4‑H Name and Emblem in their independent study.
  2. How the 4-H Name & Emblem will be referenced in any show, event or recognition that may occur from the results of the individual’s independent work (i.e. this animal entered by Joey Smith, in association with the ABC County 4-H program)
  3. Documenting the association or affiliation between the individual and the local 4-H program.
  4. Communicate that the individuals are not authorized to use the 4-H Name & Emblem in commercial applications or in ways that would not be compliant with graphic standards or regulations.
  5. Independent 4-H members must work under the direction of an adult. The adult may be an advisor, who would need to complete leader certification training (Volunteer Orientation and Leadership Training), or they may work under the supervision of their parent(s). If the parents are providing supervision, the parents are acting only as parents and are not representing 4-H nor can they use the 4-H name and emblem.
  6. Independent 4-H members can not raise funds for him/herself in the name of 4-H. In the case of a youth raising a market animal to be auctioned off they can recruit buyers to bid on their animal at the 4-H livestock auction as this is considered an important part of their 4-H project.

Occasionally there are extenuating circumstances in which a youth who is an independent asks to be a member in a county other than the one in which he or she resides. In these instances, the county of affiliation should be worked out between the 4-H staff in each respective county, with a written record stating which county the youth is officially enrolled in, and the reasons for the exception.

Independent Charter Letter: Word | PDF

C.1.3 Enrolling in More Than One 4-H Club

Youth may be enrolled in more than one 4-H Club in the same or different counties or states as long as they meet these conditions:

  • They fully meet their responsibilities to both clubs.
  • The clubs are for different project areas.
  • Project Records are submitted for awards in only one county.

C.1.4 Code of Conduct

Most 4-H programs use the 4-H Program Participation Permission, Agreements, and Photo Release Form (Word | PDF) when establishing an expected code of conduct for 4-H members. Members are expected to read the expectations and, if they agree, sign and date the form. The statement reads:

“As a participant in this program, I understand that I represent myself, my family, my county, Maine, and all Maine 4-H participants, volunteers and staff. 4-H will be judged by my actions. Therefore, by my signature below, I agree to:

  1. Participate fully in this program.
  2. Follow all schedule times, including curfew and wake-up hours, and be where assigned, when assigned.
  3. Follow the Dress Code established for this program or event.
  4. Uphold the highest standards of behavior, manners and language.
  5. Refrain from using alcoholic beverages, non-prescribed or illegal drugs, tobacco products, or fireworks.
  6. Respect the rights of others at all times and make every attempt to include all participants in all activities.
  7. Refrain from verbal or physical harassment or intimidation of another person, for any reason.
  8. Leave the facilities in the same or better condition than I found them when I arrived.
  9. Support and follow all leadership and direction received from coordinators, chaperons and any other adult authority.

I understand that if I break this agreement, I must accept the consequences of my actions, which might include a loss of privileges during this program, loss of 4-H privileges in the future, and/or immediate dismissal from this program as determined by county and/or state 4-H staff.”

C.1.5 4‑H Work Completion Criteria

A 4‑H member has completed a year’s enrollment when the 4‑H educator for the county in which the member is enrolled certifies the work to be complete. This may be demonstrated when the member has completed the tasks associated with the 4‑H Project or non-traditional activity.

Some 4‑H Projects may not require twelve months worth of work. Therefore, it is up to the Extension educator or professional to determine if full credit can be given for the work completed. Examples in which members could receive credit for having completed a year’s project work include:

  • 4-H Entomology Club meeting from June to September
  • 4-H Snowmobile Club meeting from November to March

C.1.6 Project Records

All Maine 4-H Project Records resources can be found at 4-H Project Records.

C.1.7 Regulations for 4-H Animal Shows at Maine Agricultural Fairs

  1. “4-H Age” is defined as the age of the 4-H member as of December 31 of the current 4-H year. All ages below are “4-H Ages.”
    • 4-H exhibitors must be 9 through 18 years of age in order to show competitively in any 4-H animal show.
    • 4-H members age 8 may participate in non-competitive demonstration shows using a rabbit, dog, kid goat, non-market lamb, piglet, or non-market calf. One-on-one supervision by an adult or older teen is required. All participants will receive identical forms of recognition of participation. (See Cloverbud Policy.)
    • 4-H members age 5 through 7 may participate in a skill-a-thon, educational clinic or other public educational activity with one rabbit, dog, kid goat, non-market lamb or piglet, or calf. One-on-one supervision by an adult or experienced older teen having ultimate control of the animal is required. All participants will receive identical forms of recognition of participation. (See Cloverbud Policy.)
  2. All shows will require that exhibitors ages 9 through 18 present the standard Approval Form for 4-H Animal Shows: Approval Form for 4-H Animal Shows.
  3. Each animal must be listed on only one member’s approval form with the exception of horse. Two members who are not siblings or all the children from one family may share the same horse.
  4. Since animal approval forms document animal projects, Cloverbud members will not be required to use Animal Approval Forms for their animal activities.
  5. 4-H members ages 9 through 18 must fit any animals they show. Members ages 5 through 8 may assist an adult or older 4-H member in fitting their animal with the amount of hands-on participation related to the skills and abilities of the younger member.
  6. 4-H members 9 through 18 may use leased animals in 4-H shows.
  7. An Animal Substitution Form is available for a 4-H member to use if their ONLY project animal listed on the current year’s signed and embossed official Animal Approval Form dies, or has a long-term critical illness that will affect the animal’s ability to show and warrant it “unusable” in the current 4-H year. In both cases this must be confirmed by a licensed veterinarian with both a signature on the Animal Substitution Form and a certificate of death, or written statement of long-term illness that will affect the animal’s ability to show in the current 4-H year. If one of a 4-H member’s animals is unable to be exhibited for any reason (illness, death), and they have other project animals listed on their Animal Approval form there is never any substitution form allowed. Please see the back of the Animal Substitution Form for a full list of rules. The Animal Substitution Form can be found on the Forms page of this website.

Regulations for Market Steers and Market Lambs to be sold at Fryeburg Fair open to 4-H members statewide

These regulations are for 4-H Members planning to show and sell at Fryeburg Fair. 4-H members need to send in the appropriate Intent to Participate Form to the County Extension office where they are enrolled by December 31st (postmarked by December 31st or the next business day if the 1st is a Saturday or Sunday) for Market Steers and May 1st (postmarked by May 1st or the next business day if the 1st is a Saturday or Sunday) for Market Lambs.

  1. Market Steers must be owned and in possession by the 4-H’er by December 31st and Market Lambs must be owned and in possession by June 1st, the original bill-of-sale should accompany the Intent Form for Market Steers or be sent to the state 4-H office by January 15th. Original bill-of-sale will be mailed back with the Approval Form.
  2. Approval forms must have the electronic ID and Maine State ID (metal) numbers included. These numbers will be checked by the State 4-H office against the numbers provided by the electronic system.
  3. A 4-H’er may not substitute a different animal for these market classes once the steer or lamb is tagged. No exceptions will be considered.
  4. All projects must be the work of the 4-H member.
  5. The Market Animal project must be raised on your home premises or within a 30-35 mile radius. Projects outside of this radius must receive an exemption from the local Extension Office and the fair where the animal is entered.
  6. All Market Animals must be identified for Fryeburg Fair when the animals are tagged (January for Market Steers and June for Market Lambs). 4-H members can tag and identify only one market steer and /or one market lamb at the Fryeburg Fair.
  7. 4-H’ers must be willing to have their animals electronically tagged in one ear and a state of Maine metal tag put in the other ear.
  8. 4-H’ers must be willing to have a hair or wool sample taken from the animal at the time of tagging for DNA testing.
  9. If there becomes a reason to administer a DNA test on the animal, and the animal turns out to be a replacement, the 4-H member will be responsible for the cost of the test and the animal will be ineligible for the show and sale. If the animal proves to be the original animal, the 4-H member will not be asked to pay for the test.
  10. The 4-H member will be required to contact Maine Cooperative Extension to have a tag replaced in the event that an animal loses a tag. Animals for Fryeburg Fair contact Donna Flint at 207-324-2814. If both tags are missing or have been tampered with the animal is automatically disqualified unless the 4-H member is willing to pay for a DNA test and can prove the animal is the same animal. At the time the second set of hair is taken for the DNA test, the new ear tags will be replaced at the member’s expense.
  11. The University of Maine Cooperative Extension and the West Oxford Agricultural Society reserve the right to administer the DNA test at any time.

C.1.8 4-H Leasing Rules

  1. There can only be one 4-H member per leased animal with the exception of horse. Another way to state this is “Each animal can only be rented by one 4-H member and appear on one Approval Form with the exception of horse. Up to two members who are not in the same family are permitted to lease the same horse.” Two members are permitted to lease the same horse because expenses are generally higher with the horse project and it is sometimes safer for two members to work together. In families with more than 2 children, the horse may be leased by all of the children. Families must take care not to overwork the horse and recognize that every child may not be able to show at the same horse show.
  2. No more than 20 animals of each type (dairy cow, beef animal, goats, dogs, sheep, working steer, swine, poultry, rabbits, llamas, horse, other) that require an approval form can be leased by one 4-H member.
  3. It is understood that 4-H members will receive help with fitting during the year as these skills are learned. It is expected that the fitting of leased animals for 4-H shows and competitions will be done by the 4-H member who signed the lease form.
  4. It is desirable to keep leased animals under the direct responsibility of the 4-H member. It is expected that a 4-H member with a leased-animal project will, on average, assist with the care, maintenance and training of that animal at least twice per week.

The 4-H club leader, project leader, or independent advisor will verify that this is an active project by signing the animal approval form. One method of verification the leader can use is to review the project record to date.

C.1.9 The Danish System of Judging

The Danish system is a method of evaluation where a product or process is evaluated against a set of standards, and recognition is awarded on the degree to which the standard has been met by each competitor. In Danish system judging, the exhibitors are not judged against each other. In a “true” Danish system the standard of excellence is the same for everyone regardless of age or experience. In 4-H, a “modified” Danish system is used that uses standards adjusted according to member’s age and years of experience in the project. The Danish system is used in 4-H for 9 through 18 year olds because it is a way to provide recognition to greater numbers of youth who may all be making significant progress in their projects. The Danish system is considered by National 4-H Policy to be a competitive form of judging and is therefore not to be used for 4-H members under the age of 9.

In Maine 4-H, ribbons traditionally awarded by the Danish system are:

  • Blue: for excellence, exceeding the standards
  • Red: for good work that meets the expected standard
  • White: for work that falls below the expected standard

In Maine we have not created written standards. Therefore the standards used in livestock shows are the generally accepted standards for good fitting and showmanship and for animal quality.

C.1.9.a Evaluation of 5-8 Year Old Activities

Cloverbuds, 4-H members ages 5 through 8, are not ranked or judged competitively. Cloverbud members will receive identical forms of recognition of participation for work exhibited in Exhibition halls or for participation in non-competitive animal demonstrations, skill-a-thons, clinics, or other educational events. Although Cloverbud exhibits or demonstrations are not ranked or scored, it is important for the children to receive feedback on their work. They may participate in a “show and tell” activity about their exhibit or receive written or oral feedback that includes positive encouragement and constructive suggestions for growth for their exhibits or animal activities.

C.1.10 Eastern States Exposition

Maine 4‑H members may attend Eastern States Exposition (ESE) in up to, but no more than, two commodities for which they qualify, in any given year. Participation in two commodities may not prevent the participation of another 4‑H member who would be attending in only one commodity. The programs of the two commodities at ESE must not conflict or overlap during the Exposition.

C.1.11 Maine 4-H Youth Council

The Maine 4-H Youth Council of appointed 4-H members, has a mission statement based on the acronym “L.E.A.D.S.”:

  • L: lead the Maine 4-H Youth Conference
  • E: educate others about teen issues
  • A: act as an advisory committee to the State 4-H Office
  • D: develop communication between county and state
  • S: serve as a role model to all

Youth Council meets as often as the Council members feel they need to meet. Typically they meet monthly except in July and August. The Council is guided by the Maine 4-H Youth Council By-Laws.

Membership on the Maine 4-H Youth Council is guided by the following:

  • Youth Council members should be enrolled 4-H members at least 12 years old but not older than 18.
  • Each county may appoint no more than one representative to serve on the Council. It is left to the county to decide how to make their appointment. However, the appointment should be one of high honor to your appointee. The member does not have to live in your county, however they should be actively enrolled in your county.
  • In addition to county-appointed Council members, 4-H Ambassadors (members who have attended National 4-H Conference), automatically serve as members of the Council.

C.1.12 Maine’s Major National 4-H Trips

These programs are for youth aged 14 to 18.

National 4-H Conference

National 4-H Conference is called by the United States Secretary of Agriculture and held in the spring at the National 4-H Center, Chevy Chase, Maryland. This event brings together teens from across the United States to assist in the creation of a national direction for youth programming for the following year. Teens who attend this program are asked to identify issues impacting their lives and suggest recommendations of how 4-H might address these issues. In the process, the teens learn a great deal about themselves.

Teens from Maine selected to attend this event are given the title “Maine 4-H Ambassador.”

To attend National 4-H Conference, youth must:

  • submit a Maine 4-H Portfolio
  • be invited to the State 4-H Awards Interviews
  • be selected by the State 4-H Awards Selection Committee

Participation in Conference is limited to 4-H members. Members must be enrolled at the time of the trip.

Citizenship Washington Focus

Citizenship Washington Focus (CWF) is a week-long summertime adventure that teaches teens about their citizenship responsibilities. The delegates live at the National 4-H Center while attending field trips into Washington, D.C. and learning sessions at the Center. During the week the delegates role-play being Senators, city-council members, and participate in other decision-making roles to learn how issues become bills and how bills become laws. By the end of the week, the delegates are ready to be agents of change in their local communities.

To attend CWF, youth must follow county Extension guidelines. Youth do not have to be 4-H members to attend CWF.

National 4-H Congress

National 4-H Congress is a five-day educational event keyed to the recognition and continuing development of the nation’s most outstanding 4-H youth. During Congress, approximately 1,200 4-H members and 270 adults participate in a variety of activities. Special donor-sponsored events afford opportunity for delegates to receive training of special interest to them and exchange ideas with representatives from the private sector and Extension Service. Workshops offer 4-H members and adults opportunity to discuss current concerns of youth preparing to enter the adult world and become future leaders.

To attend National 4-H Congress, 4-H youth must:

  • submit Maine 4-H Portfolio
  • be invited to the State 4-H Awards Interviews
  • be selected by the State 4-H Awards Selection Committee

Participation in Congress is limited to 4-H members. Members must be enrolled at the time of the trip.

C.1.13 State 4-H Awards Interviews

Participants are selected to attend National 4-H Conference and National 4-H Congress through the State 4-H Awards interview process. The committee that interviews and selects youth for these programs may include a member of the State 4-H Staff, the Executive Director of the Maine 4‑H Foundation, a Maine 4-H Ambassador, a county 4-H educator or professional, and a 4-H volunteer. At the close of the interviews, the State 4-H Awards committee makes the final decision. In each annual interview process, an applicant will be selected to participate in only one of these programs.

C.1.14 Maine 4-H Horse Program Helmet Policy

  1. Effective January 1, 2002 all youth under 19, participating in any 4-H equestrian activities, regardless of riding seat, shall wear a properly fitted equestrian helmet which carries a current American Society for Testing and Materials/Safety Equipment Institute approval with secured chin harness properly fastened at all times when mounted on an equine or in a vehicle being pulled by one or more equines.
  2. It is the responsibility of the rider or the parent or guardian of the minor rider, to see to it that the headgear worn complies with such approved standards and carries the proper seals, and is properly fitted and in good condition. Due to degeneration concerns, equestrian and sport manufacturers recommend replacement every five years. The University of Maine system, organizing committees, and licensed officials or leaders are not responsible for checking headgear worn for such compliance. The University of Maine or said committees and officials and leaders make no representation or warranty, expressed or implied, about such headgear and cautions riders that serious injury may result despite wearing headgear, as no helmet can protect against all foreseeable injuries in equestrian activities.
  3. At any 4-H equestrian activity, the official activity manager (e.g. show manager, clinic organizer, club leader) may, at his/her discretion, check a participant’s equestrian helmet for proper standards. If the participant is found to be wearing an unapproved, defective or improperly fitted helmet, he/she will NOT be permitted to participate in any mounted or driving activities until proper headgear is acquired.

C.1.15 Electronic Applications for 4-H Trips and Events

Applications for 4-H scholarships, camps and national trips such as 4-H Congress, 4-H Conference, Citizenship Washington Focus, and Eastern States team intent forms may be submitted to the county office electronically. For the electronic signature on these documents the 4-H youth applicant may type in their initials along with the full name of a parent or guardian. (ex. J.S., Nancy R. Smith). County offices may choose to have applications and registrations for county-based events submitted electronically, as well as 4-H project records.

The following forms may not be submitted electronically as they require an actual signature:

  • 4-H Program Participation Permission, Agreements, and Health Form
  • University of Maine/4-H Photo Release Form
  • Maine 4-H Animal Approval Form
  • Eastern States Animal Entries

C.1.16 4-H Shooting Sports Policies and Procedures


These policies are intended to provide 4-H Shooting Sports guidance for all University of Maine Cooperative Extension staff as well as all University of Maine 4-H Shooting Sports Instructors. The intent is to clearly outline the requirements and to provide a degree of standardization for all 4-H Shooting Sports programs. Maine policies are consistent with those of the National 4-H Shooting Sports Foundation.

Maine 4-H Shooting Sports Mission is to foster youth development using the tools of safety, shooting sports, conservation and natural resource education. The primary focus will always be the safety of participants, volunteers, and instructors in an educational shooting sports setting.

  • Shooting Sports Policies: Word | PDF
  • Shooting Sports Inventory: Excel | PDF