Planning a 4-H Club Meeting
Effective meetings require advance planning. Successful clubs get ideas from the members, then work to develop an annual club plan for meeting schedules and educational programs for the club year. Usually, club officers do the initial program planning with guidance from organizational leaders and club parents. This plan is then presented to the entire club for review, modification and approval. Additional resources can be found in Appendix B.
The officers elected at the beginning of the 4-H year are responsible for conducting meetings. The club leader(s) will want to work with them to help officers develop leadership skills and assist in developing agendas. Most clubs normally elect a president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, and reporter/historian. Other officers may be elected, depending on the individual club (i.e. recreation leader, song leader, etc.).
Club meetings are conducted by parliamentary procedure, a method of progressing through the items on a meeting agenda in order to maintain democratic rule, fairness, and the opportunity for debate in order to reach consensus on group decisions. A handbook developed by University of Illinois Cooperative Extension 4-H is available online: Parliamentary Procedure (PDF).
Planning a 4-H Project Meeting
As a 4-H project leader, you can share your skills, talents or special interests such as photography, horses, dogs, rabbits, sewing, computers or woodworking. In this role, you may be called upon to offer a number of sessions at an afterschool program, or assist a club leader by sharing your expertise and working with club members. Many of the same questions and techniques can go into getting ready for a project meeting as planning for a club meeting.
Review project materials
- Contact your 4-H club leader or your county Extension office to get project material. There is usually something for both leaders and members.
- Review the material to learn what the project is all about and what the leaders are expected to do.
- Think about additional ideas you have or things you’d like to do or try, and make a note of them.
Set up a 4-H file
- You need a place to store your 4-H materials to keep them together and in some kind of order. A cardboard box makes a handy file.
- Use it to store:
- Leader guides
- Member guides
- Your notes
- A folder for your project plans
- A folder for information on members and their families (names,
addresses, phone numbers, ages, etc.). Even skilled family members can share with your project group.
- Resources you find in newspapers, magazines, folders, brochures, or
other Extension written materials.
Plan to make 4-H fun
- Think about how members will perceive and experience the project.
- Think about the things that will make the 4-H project fun for members.
- Look around your home and community for resources to make 4-H fun.
- When 4-H is fun and members are involved in doing and discovering, they’ll learn.
- Plan to involve parents and other members of the 4-H families.
- Obtain a list of names and addresses of 4-H’ers enrolled in the project from the 4-H club leader or your local UMaine Extension office.
Involve teens as leaders
- Include teen 4-H’ers in activities that can help develop leadership and citizenship skills.
- Provide opportunities to practice responsibility.
- Treat teens as adults and involve them in all aspects of the club program, including planning.
- Ask instead of tell.
Project Meetings FAQs
How many meetings should I have?
A minimum of eight meetings per year is required, although most leaders hold ten to twelve meetings a year. The schedule might look something like this:
- First Meeting: Involve the members in planning. Have them help select things to do. Younger members may select from among choices you identify.
- Meetings Two through Eight: Can be things like exploring, making, trying, discovering, touring, interacting, growing, grooming, preparing, telling, showing, sharing, and maybe some listening and recording.)
- Meeting Nine: Preparing for the fair and completing project records
- Meeting Ten: Reflect on what was done and learned this year, as well as what you want to do next year.
How often should we meet?
Once or twice a month is about right, but for some projects it may be seasonal (10 meetings in 10 weeks). You will want to plan with your group. A lot will depend on the project and when members are available.
Where should we meet?
We recommend that you try and meet in a convenient public place such as a school, church, business, library or community center. If you can’t meet in a public place you can meet at a home. If you meet at home, it is important that you have up to date homeowners insurance (see the Policy Guideline in section A.1.5 for more information about liability and home owners insurance). Call the UMaine Extension office for a list of potential public meeting places.
When should we meet?
- School days: try from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. or 4:00 – 5:30 p.m. Another option is early evening from 7:00 – 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. Weekends: try 10:00am – noon.
- In summer, schedule meetings when leaders and members are available.
How long should the meetings be?
About one to two hours depending on the activity, the project, and member age. Remember, younger members have a shorter attention span for listening, watching or doing one thing.