Unlocking the Power of 4-H Meetings

For many, 4-H might conjure images of fun gatherings, where young people come together for socializing and camaraderie. While that’s certainly a part of it, 4-H meetings are so much more—they’re carefully structured sessions designed to foster growth and learning among its participants.

At the heart of every 4-H meeting lies intentionality. From the very start, as members gather, they recite the 4-H Pledge The pledge is the guiding principle that sets the tone for all 4-H activities, whether it’s in meetings, projects, or community service.

Youth officers take charge of these meetings, under the direction of adult leaders. This collaborative leadership approach not only empowers young people but also ensures that their voices are heard and valued in the decision-making process. It’s a dynamic interplay of guidance and autonomy, where adults provide support while allowing youth to take the reins.

When planning 4-H club meetings, organizers recognize the importance of incorporating three essential elements: Leading, Learning, and Laughing. These elements, akin to Business, Education, and Recreation, are carefully balanced to ensure a well-rounded experience for everyone involved.

Leading (Business): This segment, lasting 15-20 minutes, is where club decisions are made. Led by youth leaders, this is where the group decides on future activities and initiatives. It’s a prime opportunity for youth to exercise their leadership skills and have their voices heard.

Learning (Education): Lasting 20-30 minutes, this part of the meeting is dedicated to learning something new. Whether it’s through guest speakers, member demonstrations, or community service projects, the emphasis is on education. Here, youth not only absorb knowledge but also have the chance to teach others—a powerful way to reinforce their own learning.

Laughing (Recreation): Fun is a vital ingredient in any 4-H meeting. In this final segment, spanning 15-20 minutes, members engage in activities that promote laughter, bonding, and relationship-building. Whether it’s through games, team-building exercises, or simply sharing snacks, the goal is to create lasting memories and strengthen connections within the group.

But 4-H meetings aren’t just about fun and games; they’re also opportunities for growth and reflection. When projects or demonstrations are on the agenda, adult volunteers play a crucial role in guiding members through the experience. They help participants understand the purpose behind each activity, connect it to valuable life skills, and provide clear instructions for execution. Moreover, processing the activity afterward is equally important. Through thoughtful reflection, members deepen their understanding, identify areas for improvement, how they can share what they’ve learned and explore how they can apply their newfound skills in various aspects of their lives.

4-H meetings are more than just gatherings—they’re transformative experiences that empower youth, foster learning, and build community. By embracing the principles of intentionality, leadership, and fun, 4-H continues to shape the leaders and changemakers of tomorrow, one meeting at a time.
For more information on becoming a 4-H Volunteer or starting a 4-H Club contact the Washington County 4-H Educator, Ron Jakubisin at ron.jakubisin@wisc.edu and visit the Wisconsin 4-H Resource page to learn more. https://4h.extension.wisc.edu/resources/volunteer-resources

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