This is What 4-H Does
Many things ramp up in the springtime with 4-H, with a steady stream of things to do! Our 4-Hers explored new places, competed in county and state events, shared their knowledge, and pushed themselves out of their comfort zones. March and April saw our youth compete in the SeaPerch underwater robotics competition in Durham, while others practiced their communication skills at our annual 4-H Presents Day. A chilly but sunny April Saturday also brought together our Beef and Dairy project youth for a Field Day of hands-on learning at the Cheshire Fairgrounds, followed by a Horse Clinic in May. Both events were coordinated by our dedicated 4-H Cheshire volunteers, who also brought in outside experts to teach alongside of our volunteers and teens. Early June then found our Cloverbuds through 18-year-olds showing off their horse knowledge and skills at our county Horse Field Day. The event was a qualifier for our older 4-Hers to advance to the State Horse Show, and an opportunity for our youngest to enter the ring for the first time and learn the expectations of handling their horse in a group setting.
Once school ended, a handful of our 4-Hers spent four days at the UNH Durham campus for Teen Conference, attending workshops, completing service projects, and socializing with teens from across the state. We then sent the largest county delegation to the State Horse Show in July, with 4-Hers aging out of the program working side-by-side with first time attendees.
August finally graced us with a beautiful weather window for the Cheshire Fair! The hard preparation work of the Fair’s board members along with our 4-H clubs paid off, with countless complements on how great the grounds looked and how fun it was to see so many animals and displays. With over 70 4-H youth exhibitors, the barns, building, ring, and food booth welcomed a constant stream of community spectators.
These events were only a fraction of what the 4-Hers engaged in this spring and summer. On any given evening or weekend, you could find our volunteers and youth organizing and leading tabling outreach, participating in community parades, taking field trips to different farms, completely dismantling, and rebuilding the fairground’s cattle ring, or furthering their content knowledge and building community within their club meetings.
In wrapping up our year and looking at how many hours our 4-Hers were engaged, it is indeed evident that 4-Hers do a lot.
But while lists and numbers tell one part of the story, true impact is witnessed first-hand. At the Fair, there is a small parade. “Where do we line up?” a 4-H teen called out. She then corralled her clubmates, grabbed her cow, and led the way. What made this small action remarkable? A year ago, they were too shy to even speak. After watching her daughter’s confidence in the moment, her mother said, “This is what 4-H does.” The measurement of what we do is truly in the outcome.
The 4-H Basics
What is 4-H?
4-H is America’s largest youth development organization. The purpose of 4-H is to provide a supportive setting for all youth to pursue the projects and interests they love, all while serving the community and gaining valuable life skills.
What do the 4 H’s in 4-H mean?
The 4 H’s stand for Head, Heart, Hands, and Health. Our organization’s title is directly connected to our pledge:
"I pledge ... my Head to clearer thinking, my Heart to greater loyalty, my Hands to larger service, and my Health to better living for my club, my community, my country, and my world."
How old do you have to be to join 4-H?
Our programs are primarily geared towards youth ages 8-18. However, we have ways for your 5-7-year-olds to participate as a “Cloverbud.” If you are older than 18 and still want to express the 4-H spirit, you can take advantage of our many volunteer opportunities.
How do I find my local county 4-H program?
New Hampshire 4-H is the youth development program of UNH Cooperative Extension, and our 10 County 4-H Programs in New Hampshire serving youth from all over the state. 4-H operates on many levels of the community. There are events, programs, workshops, and opportunities on both the County level and the State level (even the National level). Get started by finding your County 4-H Program here. Your county program is usually the county where you live, but if you are planning to join a 4-H club in a different county, that county program will be your home base.
How do I find a local 4-H Club?
The list of Clubs and Afterschool Programs on your County 4-H Program page is a great place to start. To get connected with a club, complete our 4-H interest form, and a 4-H staff member will be in touch to find out more about your interests and put you in touch with a Club Leader that fits your interests and location.
Who leads 4-H Clubs?
The best people in the world lead 4-H Clubs. No joke! 4-H Volunteers lead Clubs, and you can be sure they are truly invested in giving their attention and skills to your children because they do it for free. 4-H nationally gets over a billion dollars of time and expertise from our Volunteers every year. Why on earth would they do that? Because giving your children skills and opportunities is incredibly rewarding for them, and 4-H supports and empowers them to make the maximum impact possible. All 4-H Volunteers are supported by a professional staff, including your County 4-H Program Manager and Field Specialists who are University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension staff members.
What are 4-H Club meetings like?
4-H youth work on projects of all kinds within four general program pathways: Agricultural Science, Civic Engagement, Healthy Living, and STEM. Some Clubs specifically focus on one of these pathways. Other Clubs generally dabble in all four. Youth have opportunities to present and showcase their projects at the county fairs and other county, state, and regional events – but most of the learning and skill development happens in the Clubs. 4-H Club members build leadership by electing officers and conducting their own business meetings, work together on community service activities, meet new friends, and of course, have lots of fun.
What if I don’t necessarily want to join a club?
There are still many ways to be involved! 4-H is committed to bringing you programs wherever you are, and maybe joining a Club is not for you at this time. Youth and families who want to attend county-wide events and SPINs or work on 4-H projects independently are recognized as “independent members” or “participants”. Find a 4-H event near you or contact us to get started as a 4-H independent member.
How do I officially enroll in 4-H?
4-H Online is our official enrollment database. Registering in 4-H Online allows you to manage your 4-H clubs and projects, register your 4-H animals, and sign up for events. Enrollment as a club member or participant is required to register for your county events and SPINs. If you need help enrolling, check out our Enrollment Guide for NH Families.
How do I get involved as a 4-H volunteer?
There are many different kinds of opportunities to support 4-H through volunteering – see all of them here. To volunteer as a Club leader, project leader, or SPIN facilitator, there is a volunteer application and onboarding process. We are here to get you started and guide you through it – start by completing the 4-H Volunteer Application online.
Can parents be involved in 4-H Clubs?
Parents can and should be involved in 4-H Clubs. Speak to the Club Leader to define the best role for you!
How do I start a local 4-H group?
Screened 4-H Volunteers can start a 4-H group aka “Club.” There is a more involved orientation process for Club Organizational Leaders that is designed to bring their vision into reality and highlight the extra responsibilities. We are here to get you started and guide you through it – start by completing the 4-H Volunteer Application online.