4-H cloverbuds and service project involving veterans

Service involves looking outside yourself and helping your community and its members. 4-H cloverbuds can participate in service, as doing a service learning project doesn’t have to be difficult.

Danykah Muck and donated items
Danykah Muck, a Livingston County 4-H cloverbud member, is pictured with the donations she collected for Operation Gratitude.

Service involves looking outside yourself and helping or doing work for your community or the individuals within the community. By serving the community, the individuals receive benefits because they are a member of the community. Serving others also benefits the 4-H member by building life skills such as responsible citizenship, teamwork, character, concern for others, communication, goal setting, problem solving and many more.

4-H cloverbuds, youth ages 5-7, can participate in service as much as any other 4-H member. Lessons may need to be adapted for developmental appropriateness, but they can achieve the benefits of service regardless of age.

Doing a service learning project doesn’t have to be difficult. As an example, I’ll discuss the project of cloverbuds and their service to veterans. To make the project easier, consider breaking it into three parts: before, during and after.


  • Teach the youth about soldiers who are deployed and veterans and the challenges they and their families face.
  • Talk to your local veterans affairs office or an organization like Operation Gratitude to see what needs the veterans have during the time of year of the project.
  • Identify possible donors or resources.
  • Decide who your group is going to make packages for.
  • Determine where to take items once collected.


  • Gather goods.
  • Package goods with care.
  • Include a personal touch (special project, personal note, photo etc.).
  • Take photos and record the event to share with the media.


  • Reflect on your project.
  • Have a celebration.
  • Send press releases of your success to the 4-H office, local papers and other media sources.

To have a successful service project, it is important for the group to work through the entire project before collecting items to send to soldiers, veterans or their families. There are many organizations that will take the collected items to send to soldiers if your group doesn’t have a group already identified. Working with these groups can help you get the items to as many soldiers, veterans or families as possible in a timely manner. However, your group may want to reach out to your local veterans affairs office or local military base to see if there is a local need.

Once a group is identified, consider the following:

  • Will your group reach out to just family and friends, other 4-H clubs, local community or others to collect items?
  • Will your group host a collection event?
  • Who will be responsible for storing the items from the time they are collected until they are shipped?
  • What expiration date do you need to tell donors in order to work with shipping and the organizations needs?
  • Who will be responsible for shipping the items? Have you considered the cost of shipping?
  • Who will document the event with photos, quotes from participants and donors etc.?

After the group completes the service project, it’s time to reflect and celebrate. Reflection can help groups discover things they might do differently in the future and discuss things that went well. It also allows for the youth to discuss the learning that took place.

Reflection and celebration:

  • Take time to look over your project and discuss things that the group could have done differently to make the process run more smoothly.
  • Consider other things the group might change, delete or add for a future project.
  • Celebrate! Plan a party with the members, sponsors, local veterans office and the Michigan State University Extension office to celebrate your success.
  • Share your project with your local MSU Extension office, local papers and social media. Be sure to only use photos of youth who have signed a photo release with the MSU Extension office.
  • Work with your MSU Extension office to attend a county commissioner meeting to share your project success with them.

If the above example doesn’t fit your needs, consider some of these variations:

  • Contact your local veterans affairs hospital to volunteer as a greeter or schedule visits with veterans.
  • Contact your local veterans affairs office to see if they have veterans or their families in need of assistance with yard work or chores.
  • Visit local care facilities that house veterans.
  • Hold a card drive for special events such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day or Veterans Day.

Regardless of the project you choose, the most important thing is that you do choose one. The amount of learning that occurs during a service project is hard to duplicate with other programs and all the work done also benefits others in need. For more information on service learning/ community service projects, visit our 4-H Cloverbuds and Service page.

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