So You’re New to 4-H in Cumberland County…

So you’re new to 4-H in Cumberland County and are probably feeling a little overwhelmed, confused, and excited about all of the new things being presented to you. 4-H is what you make of it so it can be as little or as much a part of your life as you choose. Some members choose to focus on one project while others work on multiple projects. That is one of the great things about being in 4-H, you get to choose the things that interest you and learn about them in a way that works for you.

There is a lot to learn as you go along and for a newcomer it can be quite confusing. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, that is what we are all here for. Everyone is here for one basic reason, to help encourage youth to learn and succeed in life. We are all in this together! Every club and every leader works a little bit differently. There are some common links and the following is a synopsis of things you can expect here in Cumberland County.

UMaine Extension & 4-H: UMaine Cooperative Extension brings knowledge from the University of Maine to you through local county offices. For over 100 years, we’ve been putting university research to work in homes, businesses, farms, and communities – in every corner of Maine by providing practical, how-to solutions in agriculture, small business, horticulture, nutrition, and youth development. As the youth development arm of UMaine Extension, 4-H has always emphasized the importance of helping youth build the life skills needed to become successful adults.

Cumberland County 4-H Newsletter: One of the key resources is the county’s monthly 4-H newsletter, emailed out from the Cooperative Extension office at the beginning of each month. This will include upcoming dates and activities, both on the county and state level. If you see something of interest or don’t understand something don’t be afraid to ask!

Leaders Association: The Cumberland County 4-H Leaders Association is one of the strongest in the state. Every volunteer who has gone through 4-H volunteer training automatically becomes a leader and therefore a member of this association. Meetings are held on the third Thursday of the month in the months of October, November, January, March, May, and August (the Board of Directors meets during the other months). All of our volunteers work really hard to provide opportunities for our youth, so please join in to help keep the lines of communication between volunteers open. This is a great place to network and really learn about what’s going on in our county.

Mentor Program: If you are a new leader, you can be paired with someone who has been in 4-H for sometime, who can help answer your questions. The purpose of this is not to dictate how your club should be run, but to be used as a resource when needed. Some clubs find it helpful to pair a new 4-H family or member with an older 4-H family or member as well.

Cloverbuds: Cloverbuds are 4-H youth ages 5 to 8 years old. The Cloverbud program is designed to introduce young 4-H members to the full range of 4-H project areas, and to help them build habits and skills to safely participate in 4-H projects independently when they become older 4-H members. Cloverbud “sampler” activities let them learn a variety of topics and skills that provide immediate positive feedback. For safety and developmental reasons Cloverbuds may not have animal projects but rather carefully structured, well supervised activities with animals such as clinics, skill-a-thons, and pairing up with an older 4-H member to learn about the care and training of animals.

Record Sheets: Project records are one of the foundations of the 4-H program. They are worked on throughout the year and turned into each club leader at the end of the 4-H year in October. These are used for a number of purposes. First and foremost they help to teach youth the value of record keeping. They are also a tool used to assess what has been learned by working on a particular project throughout the year. Different leaders treat record sheets differently, but in general it is expected that each member turn in a project record for each project they exhibit at the fair. In order for the project to be considered complete at the end of the year a project record must be turned in. They are also used by the Awards Committee to decide who is selected for county awards. The Portfolio is used for deciding some of the larger awards, such as trips and scholarships. Record sheets can be a challenging thing in terms of mastering what they are asking for, what the Awards Committee looks at, and in encouraging youth to do them. If you are confused about something or need ideas on how to make them work for your club don’t be afraid to ask. Record sheets are an ongoing challenge for most volunteers and youth.

Awards: Our Leaders Association is committed to supporting our youth, and therefore provides funding for a number of trips, scholarships, camperships, and other activities. Awards are given to the top four members in their project area who have completed exemplary records (see your Awards Packet for details on which projects receive awards – this typically comes out at the end of August). Information on scholarships for seniors, camperships for 4-H youth, and trips such as CWF, is sent out by the office throughout the year. Watch your newsletter for more information.

Scholarships: A variety of college scholarships are available to past and present Cumberland County 4-H members in their Senior year of high school or throughout college. Scholarships can only be earned one time and include the 4-H Leaders Association, Linda Clark/Margy Justice Memorial, Susan P. Grover Memorial and the Extension Homemakers. Applications are due late-April. The Maine 4-H Foundation also sponsors larger college scholarships for high school seniors who are current 4-H members in Maine. Applications are due early-March.

Camperships: These are scholarships for youth to attend summer camp. Amounts depend on the cost of the camp to which youth are applying, but can range from $50 to $100. Camperships are sponsored by the Cumberland County 4-H Leaders Association, Tractor Supply Company Paper Clover sales, Barbara & Bob Tibbetts Campership Fund, and the Extension Homemakers. Applications are due in April.

Club Activities: Each club plans and organizes its own activities based on what the club wants to accomplish during the year. Leaders are expected to provide a safe and inclusive environment.

County Activities: The Cumberland County 4-H Leaders Association with the support of UMaine Extension 4-H Staff and volunteers typically plan seven countywide events open to any enrolled Cumberland County 4-H member regardless of what 4-H club or project they participate in. The Teen Council, comprised of 12 – 18 year olds from a variety of Cumberland County 4-H clubs, help to plan Winterfest, June Jamboree and True Leaders in Service. 4-H staff also host workshops, trainings, and other special activities throughout the year when there is a need.

Public Speaking and Demonstrations: In early-February a public speaking and demonstration afternoon is hosted at a retirement home in Gorham. This gives youth an opportunity to practice and develop these important skills with a guaranteed audience.

Fashion Revue: Know how to sew, knit, or crochet, or want to learn to how and show off what you’ve made? Fashion Revue is the perfect opportunity. Once someone decides to enter, the basic process is this: the finished product is brought to the Cooperative Extension Office and is then presented to a panel of judges. Participants then take part in the judging process by modeling their product to the judges, giving the judges an opportunity to ask questions and see how the article fits on, or with the model. At the end, there is even a fashion show! Awards are presented at the end of the fashion show. Information typically goes out in mid-January.

True Leaders in Service: Our newest event, True Leaders in Service is a county-wide 4-H service learning activity held during National Volunteer month in April. This event is planned by the 4-H Teen Council.

June Jamboree: Hosted on the first Saturday in June, at the Cumberland Fairgrounds, this is the first “fair” of the season and is like Cumberland County 4-H’s own trial fair. It gives animal project members a chance to learn about the showing process including how to prepare and what to expect.

Cumberland Fair: This is our fair occurring the last week of September, which also happens to be the end of the 4-H year, is hosted by the Cumberland Farmers Club. This is a chance for our members to really shine! There are livestock shows, projects can be shown in the 4-H Exhibit Hall, and key fundraisers are held. The Leaders Association uses this time to host a Pig Raffle where tickets are sold by members and leaders prior to the fair and at a booth run by volunteers at the fair. A 4-H kitchen is also open during the week to sell food to 4-H families and the public. The kitchen is run solely by volunteers so please make sure to sign up in August for your shift! The money raised from these two fundraisers helps the Leaders Association fund many of the activities you are reading about here.

Other Fairs: There are a number of other fairs that occur throughout the 4-H year. These are both in and out of state with the Eastern States Exposition being the big out-of-state fair. Talk to your club leader or a leader from a similar project to learn which might be most appropriate for you.

Updated: 12/2022