The 4-H Program
New to 4-H?  Thinking about 4-H?  
We developed this section to answer some common questions...
What is 4-H about?
Will 4-H help my children grow?
Why should I sign my child up?
How is 4-H organized?
What can I expect from 4-H?
What is expected of me?
The information listed below is available from the Snohomish County Extension office as document EM4487E.

Welcome to 4-H:

4-H kids and leaders live all over Washington, in all 50 United States, and in 82 other countries. Over 6.5 million members and nearly 450,000 leaders are involved in 4-H nationwide! It is open to everyone without discrimination.

Emblem, colors, pledge and motto.

You should learn the pledge. You should also try to follow it in 4-H and in your
daily life.

The four-leaf clover is the official 4-H emblem. The four H's stand for head, heart, hands, and health.
4-H colors are:
  • Green—life, springtime, youth
  • White—fresh, clean
The 4-H pledges are:                                        


My Head to clearer thinking,
 My Heart to greater loyalty,
 My Hands to larger service,
 My Health to better living,
For my club, my community, my country, and my world.

The 4-H motto is:


“Make the Best Better”

Learn the pledge and set your goals with the motto in mind. It means to always try to do a thing better, to constantly improve.

How did 4-H begin?

4-H began in the early 1900s. The first groups were called Boys and Girls Clubs. Then in 1914, Congress passed the Smith-Lever act, which established Cooperative Extension and 4-H. The Cooperative Extension is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It is also part of Washington State University. Through Extension, WSU reaches out to your community to facilitate 4-H in your area.

Who brings 4-H to you?

Extension educators are hired by WSU to work with 4-H. They organize 4-H in the county and community. 4-H leaders help 4-H’ers learn and have fun. Leaders, since they are volunteers, do not get paid. They help because they want boys and girls to learn new things. They want you to grow up to be a happy, caring person. Friends of 4-H also help. These “friends” are organizations, industries, and businesses. They offer awards for outstanding   4-H work.

4-H Membership and Programs

A person who is 5 years old and in kindergarten may join 4-H and be a member through age 19. Beginning in the 2016 calendar year, the 4-H program youth categories have changed from a grade level to strictly age based.

To join, contact a local 4-H leader; the county extension educator; or Washington State University Extension, Pullman, WA 99164-4852.

4-H has special programs and activities for the following age groups.

Primary, now known as Cloverbuds: 5 - 7 Years
Junior: 8 - 10 Years
Intermediate: 11 - 13 Years
Senior: 14 - 19 Years

The age criteria is determined by the age of the 4-H Youth on October 1 of the calendar year.

Kinds of 4-H programs available are:

4-H Clubs.

Clubs have a planned program and meet regularly. They may offer one project or many projects. Club activities can include demonstrations, project work, community service, and social events.

Special Interest Groups.

A group of kids meet to participate in a special learning activity organized or taught by extension personnel. This experience is not part of the school curriculum.

School Enrichment.

A learning experience presented or coordinated by extension personnel with school officials as part of your school classroom activities.

4-H After School.

A group of kids who participate in learning activities during non-school hours.

Who helps in 4-H?

4-H is really a family program. Your parents and family are important in 4-H. They help you with project work and other activities.4-H members are also helped by volunteer leaders. Every 4-H club needs one or more adult leaders. These leaders teach boys and girls, organize the club, help officers and help at meetings, and tell parents about 4-H.
There are different kinds of 4-H leaders:
  • Club Leader: Works with general club meetings.
  • Project Leader: Helps members on their projects.
  • Activity Leader: Leads one or more activities,such as music, recreation, demonstrations, and special events.
  • Teen Leader: Works with an adult to give leader-ship to activities, events, or projects.
The extension educator and staff helps 4-H club leaders. The extension educator plans the county program, helps leaders organize clubs and special 4-H groups, recommends project material, coordinates county events, and trains 4-H leaders.
State 4-H specialists work at WSU. They help train 4-H educators, staff, and leaders, develop new programs and projects, and make the existing ones better.

What do you do in 4-H?

In 4-H you “learn by doing.” You learn useful skills, how to get along with people, and how to help your community and country by practicing these skills.

Here are some activities you can take part in:
Project Work: This helps you gain knowledge and skills and learn to take responsibility. As a 4-H member, choose at least one project. Choose projects that fit into your family, community, and the way you live. Share your projects with your parents. Take only one or two projects the first year. Sometimes members plan more than they can get done and become discouraged.

4-H Projects and Publications, EM2778, is a catalog of project information, available from your county extension office. You can choose projects in the following programs:

  • Animal Sciences: Dairy, Livestock, Equine, Small Animals, and Veterinary Science.
  • Engineering and Technology: Aerospace, Bicycle, Computer, Small Engines, and Wood Science. 
  • Environmental Stewardship: Environmental Stewardship, including Discovery, Forestry, Sport fishing, and Shooting Sports.
  • Expressive Arts: Applied Arts, Photography, Record Book and Performing Arts.
  • Family and Consumer Sciences: Family Living, Clothing, Foods and Nutrition, and Consumer Education.
  • Interdisciplinary: Challenge, and SERIES Science Experiences, and Ag in the Classroom.
  • Plant Sciences: Plant Science, Garden, and Entomology.
  • Social Sciences: Citizenship, International and Cross-cultural, Health, Character Education, and Leadership.

Demonstrations. 4-H members show and tell others how to do things. This is your first step toward helping others and becoming some-one who can lead others.

Record Keeping. You will write a record and story of what you do for each project. Keeping records helps you keep track of what you are learning and helps you develop business sense. Completed records must be signed by your parents and leader at the end of the 4-H year.

Club activities:
  • Recreation. You will enjoy life, yourself, and your friendships with others in social activities.
  • Club Projects. The entire club can take a project. In community service projects, 4-H’ers do things to improve their neighborhood. 4-H clubs often choose community projects in conservation, beautification, safety, or health.
  • County Contests. 4-H members who enter contests are judged and receive ribbons; they learn how to improve their presentations.
  • Exhibits. You may exhibit your project results at club meetings, local fairs, or the State 4-H    
  • Fair. This shows others what you have learned in 4-H, helps you find out how to improve your work, and gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment.
  • 4-H Camp. Many 4-H members attend camp. They take part in educational and recreational experiences as they learn about nature and living with people.
  • Know Your Government. 4-H’ers (grades 9–12) focus on government procedures and issues at citizenship project meetings held in their counties. The project culminates in a statewide conference at Olympia, where members apply what they have learned and meet their legislators.
  • 4-H State and County Exchanges. Exchanges can be arranged with clubs from different counties, with city and farm members, or with clubs in other states. Exchanges give you a broader knowledge of people and living situations and the chance to create lasting friendships.
  • State 4-H Teen Events. Statewide leadership events are planned annually for members in grades 8–12. After attending, teens are better equipped to help with 4-H and do other things in their communities.
  • Regional and National 4-H Teen Events. 4-H members are selected annually to represent Washington at regional or national events. Such events showcase outstanding member achievement and provide an opportunity for delegates to share their experiences with others and help improve 4-H.
  • International 4-H Exchange. In the International 4-H Youth Exchange (IFYE) program, older 4-H members live and work with families in other countries. This program also allows local families to host IFYE youth from other lands. The 4-H Japanese Exchange is a summer exchange for youth, 14–19 years of age, to travel to Japan or host Japanese youth. You can learn more about 4-H opportunities online at

Club meetings.

In 4-H there are two kinds of meetings:

Club Meetings. Members plan and carry out what they want to do as a group. A good club meeting has four parts with definite activities in each part.
  • Opening. Call to Order, "Pledge of Allegiance," 4-H Club Pledge.
  • Business. Roll Call, Secretary’s Report, Treasurer’s Report, Committee Reports, Old Business, New Business.
  • Education. Program, demonstrations, talks, videos, speaker.
  • Fun. Recreation, group singing, skits, entertainment, refreshments. 
Project Meetings. Members get together to work on their projects.

What do officers do?

4-H club officers are elected by members. They are proud of their jobs and do their best to get things done right and on time. Each officer has specific jobs:
  • President. The president leads the club meetings and Vice President keeps them orderly.
  • Vice President. The vice president leads in the president’s absence, introduces guests, is the program chair, and takes care of the club’s   property.
  • Secretary. The secretary writes down what happens at the meeting, keeps attendance records, brings the secretary’s book to all the meetings, and takes responsibility letters and other correspondence.
  • Treasurer. The treasurer takes care of club money, pays bills, keeps an accurate account of the club’s finances, and reports at each club meeting.
  • Reporter. The reporter sends news stories to local newspapers and radio stations and plans publicity for events.
  • Recreation Leader. The recreation leader leads games, fun activities, and singing with enthusiasm.
  • Committee Chairs. Your club may have several committees, depending on the club size and what you want to do. Committees may include: program, membership, recreation, community service, publicity, social events, and safety.

What do all members do?

An active club member volunteers for jobs without being coaxed. You attend all meetings and activities if possible. You make suggestions and present ideas. If you want the club to vote on something, you make a motion. Every member should know how to make a motion:The member raises his or her hand, or stands, and waits to be recognized. When the president calls on the member, he or she says, “I move that . . . .” Another member says, “I second the motion.” If no one seconds it, the motion is dropped. The president asks for discussion. When discussion stops, the president asks members, “Are you ready for the question?” If no one wants more discussion, the club is ready to vote. The president states the motion so everyone can hear it and calls for a vote. The president states “The motion is carried,” or “The motion is lost,”  according to the vote.

4-H rewards a job well done.

The greatest and most lasting rewards a 4-H member can receive are:
  • Satisfaction from a job well done.
  • Pride in his or her accomplishments.
  • Recognition from leaders, parents, and other 4-H members for accomplishments.
  • Knowledge and skill gained through the project.

Other forms of recognition are:

  • Completion certificates and achievement pins for members who finish a project and complete their project record.
  • County award medals to members showing outstanding accomplishment in a project.
  • Scholarships to 4-H camp, state events, and national events.
  • Ribbons for contest entries and exhibits.
  • Premiums: Money for fair exhibits and ribbons.

4-H awards recognize improvement in knowledge, skills, and participation to “Make the Best Better”.