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About 4-H

What is 4-H?
4-H is a volunteer-led organization that reaches boys and girls through small groups called clubs and sometimes in classrooms. 4-H members decide for themselves which of more than 60 projects they want to learn more about. Most projects use hands on learning experiences to teach subject matter and life skills such as cooperation, leadership, and decision making - skills that can be applied over and over for a lifetime.

Why join 4-H?
4-H is fun with friends. 4-H is learning and doing cool things. 4-H is meetings, camp, workshops, social activities, trips and fairs. 4-H is leadership opportunities and helping others. 4-H is responsibility and hard work and success.

Who can join 4-H?
4-H is for boys and girls who are currently in the 3rd-12th grade. It is open to everyone, regardless of race, religion, color, disability, gender, or place of residence.  Elkhart County also offers a pre-4-H program called Exploring 4-H for youth who are in 1st and 2nd grade.

Isn't 4-H just for farm kids?
Absolutely NOT! 4-H is for all young people, regardless of where they live, what interests them, or their background. Approximately 92% of the 4-H members in Elkhart County live in urban areas. There is something for everyone in 4-H.

Who provides leadership for 4-H?
4-H is sponsored in Indiana by the Extension Service of Purdue University.  Nationally, it is part of the Extension Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Local leadership is provided by 4-H Youth Educators in the county offices of the Elkhart County Extension Service, which is supported financially by county, state, and federal tax dollars. Volunteer leaders also play a major roll in Elkhart County 4-H. Most clubs have a volunteer leader(s) who is in charge of the club and may have additional leaders

What are 4-H projects?
A 4-H project is a series of learning experiences for 4-H members. More than 60 projects are available from the Extension Service of Purdue University and through Elkhart County. Most projects have manuals to assist the 4-H'er with his or her project. The five projects with the highest enrollment are arts and crafts, foods, swine, photography, and clothing.

What is a 4-H project manual?
A project manual contains help and direction needed to complete the project. Some projects have a manual for each division. Others have one manual which the member uses throughout his or her 4-H career. A manual may range from two pages to 50 pages. In Elkhart County there are no charges for project manuals. Costs are associated with supplementary information and replacement manuals.

How much does it cost to be in 4-H?
A state wide fee of $15.00 per 4-H member is assessed each year. (Excludes Exploring 4-H)  There may be individual club fees/dues which support local club activities. Additional costs depend upon the projects taken. The basic project manuals are supplied at no cost to the 4-H'er. The 4-H member is responsible for the materials for the projects they enroll in, so that cost is controlled by the 4-H member.

What does a 4-H project cost?
It varies. A member enrolled in crafts might use supplies from around the home to practice the skills he or she is learning and have no additional expense. A member who buys and keeps a saddle might invest hundreds of dollars. Members should consider cost as they select a project. It should be realistic to the family situation.

How much time does 4-H take?
The amount of time you spend in 4-H will vary depending upon your involvement. Most 4-H clubs meet once a month. The type of project you choose determines how much time it will take to complete.

Are 4-H members expected to do their own project work?
Yes--with help. 4-H is a "learn by doing" program. Leaders, junior leaders, and parents may tell or show a member how, but members are expected to learn how to do things themselves. One of the principles of 4-H is that allowing a youth to learn builds self worth.

What is an exhibit?
An exhibit is an object or display designed to help a young person show what she or he has accomplished. Ideally it motivates a youth to learn and to have fun in a 4-H project. An exhibit is not an end in itself, nor does it measure all the learning that takes place from completing a project.

How Do I Join 4-H?
You can enroll in Elkhart County 4-H electronically via the web.  (Click on the "Enroll in 4-H" button on the home page.)  You may also contact the Elkhart County Extension Office or a Local 4-H Club.  You can send an E-mail to request additional information. Make sure to include how you can be reached, your address, school and grade in school.  We will match you up with a 4-H club in your township or community and help you to contact the club leader.

You must fill out an official Elkhart County enrollment every year in 4-H. (The prefered way is electronic via the web.) This form must be completed and received by the Elkhart County Extension Office by April 15th of each year. (This includes the $15.00/member state fee.) Enrollment received after April 15th will assessed a late enrollment fee in addtional to the $15.00.  No enrollment in Elkhart County 4-H will be accepted after June 1st.  Earlier deadlines may apply for some projects and/or clubs.

What do 4-H clubs do at meetings?
4-H clubs usually do five general kinds of things: project work, conduct business meetings, recreation or social activities, community service work, and special interest programs.

Do they do all of those things at one meeting?
Sometimes they have business meetings, work on their projects for awhile, then have recreation. Sometimes the whole meeting is devoted to one thing.

Who plans the program for the club?
Members of the club, parents and leaders. If the club is small, this might be done at a meeting of the whole group. If the club is large, ideas come from everybody, and a committee puts together a program.

When do clubs meet and how long do meetings last?
This depends on the group. Many clubs meet for an hour or two after school, in the evening or on Saturday. The most important thing is to have a regular time to get together, one that members and their families can remember.

As a 4-H parent, how can I help my child?
Counsel your son or daughter in the selection of 4-H projects that are interesting and can be conveniently financed. Show your interest and enthusiasm after the projects have been selected. Read over the project manual with your child and help him or her understand what to do, when to do it, and how to carry out different phases of the project. Assist your son or daughter with project work, but don't do the job for him or her. Your job is to teach, not to govern; to guide, not to control. Learn to give increased freedom as your child
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Parent/New 4-H member guide for 2013   pdf