Virtual 4-H meetings are a great way to stay connected when in-person meetings are infrequent or not possible. This resource is meant to provide guidance for successful virtual meeting to help volunteer leaders connect with their 4-H clubs and groups so they can continue annual club plans, work on and share 4-H project progress, conduct demonstrations, and continue learning and fun together.
If you need assistance on how to make virtual connections, please contact your county 4-H Program Office. Currently UNH supports Zoom. If you want to use Zoom, contact your local 4-H office to be set up with an account you can use.
Planning the Meeting
- Required Supervision
- Ensure that a minimum of one screened and enrolled UNH Extension 4-H Volunteer Leader is able to attend the entire virtual connection.
- Agenda & Length of your meeting
- Virtual meetings are generally shorter than in-person meetings. They are most effective when agendas are clear and the meeting is limited and structured to focus on agenda items. If your meeting will be longer than one hour, break up the structure into segments with clear timelines to help online participants maintain focus.
- Prepare an agenda with clear objectives and timelines to try to share with your participants in advance of the meeting.
- Be as inclusive as possible and consider audience needs
- Help to make sure everyone has access to the technology needed to join (computer or phone, internet connection, camera & microphone for their computer etc.).
- If they do not, how will you continue to include them? For example, if someone has to join by phone, you may need to adjust how you share documents or resources. Reach out to your local 4-H office to see if there are resources we can provide to help.
- Will certain participants need accommodations or extra help to be able to join virtually? Do any of them need to do a test run? Have their parents/guardians had a chance to ask for this and to help you with this?
- Plan ahead to ensure youth who participate in the meeting feel welcomed and included - this can be hard in an online format. Here are some tips and ideas for creating a sense of belonging online.
Setting Up and Scheduling the Meeting
- Connection Options
- Currently UNH supports Zoom. If you want to use Zoom, contact your local 4-H office to be set up with an account you can use.
- If you want to use a different application (e.g., FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Skype etc.) please be sure to have it approved by your local 4-H Office prior to its use.
- Setting up your virtual connection for privacy and supervision
- Check that you have a good connection/bandwidth.
- Consider setting an access password to help ensure privacy and disabling the ‘join before host’ option. Help for doing this can be found in Zoom help center.
- Use only “group chat” and turn off “private chat.” Help for controlling and disabling chat with Zoom.
- Turn off “screen sharing” for participants and make sure you know how to remove disruptive participants if you need to.
- Do a test run or join early: so you can test/troubleshoot audio/video and become familiar with meeting features like: mute & unmute, remove participant, raise hand feature, video on & off features, and chat box.
- Communicate connection information and time
- Send connection info to all parents/guardians via email and/or text. It is ok to send to participants too but always send it to their parents/guardians and remember to never communicate electronically with a youth one on one.
- Share connection info broadly with the group (e.g. text, email and private social media groups) but do not post it publicly.
- Share connection information with your local 4-H Office.
Running the Meeting
- At least one 4-H Volunteer Leader must be present the entire time. At least one screened and enrolled UNH Extension 4-H Volunteers should join before the start of the virtual connection and at least one MUST wait until all youth have signed off before they exit.
- If a youth joins without their parent/guardian present, make sure that you know they have done so with permission.
- Do not record the meeting. New Hampshire law prohibits the recording of any conversation (by any means) without notice and consent of all affected parties.
- Establish group norms for behavior. See more here for sample norms and other tips for the meeting.
- If there is a lot of noise, consider having participants mute unless speaking and if there are bandwidth issues, consider turning off cameras. Help for doing this with Zoom
- As with any meeting: if formal business is being conducted, designate someone to take minutes and share with all group members after the connection is over.
- Youth participants should attend virtual connections from their own home and not congregate with others (unsupervised) for the virtual meeting.
- Lastly, try to start and end the meeting in a timely manner.