Capture your clover – 4-H record keeping Part 1: 10 reasons to keep 4-H records

Your 4-H career will be filled with many activities, projects and people to help you learn and develop life skills. Use the 4-H Member’s Personal Portfolio to record your experiences.

Learning to keep good records will be a valuable skill 4-H members will use throughout their life. 4-H members can use the Michigan 4-H Member’s Personal Portfolio to keep track of their 4-H experiences as they are learning about record keeping. They can use this information to complete applications for jobs, college or scholarships. They can also apply their record keeping skills to future tasks such as balancing a checkbook, maintaining important personal information and documents, recording family history, or compiling and submitting reports for an employer.

4-H uses the Experiential Learning Model to guide learning experiences, and the record keeping project area is no exception. The 4-H Member’s Personal Portfolio provides questions to help members reflect on their experiences, and a year in review page that suggests activities members can complete to utilize the information they have recorded throughout the year.

This article is the first in a series highlighting how to use the updated 4-H Member’s Personal Portfolio. In the style of the “Late Show Top Ten List,” the following are the top 10 reasons to check out the new 4-H Member’s Personal Portfolio:

10. Your memory will not improve with age.

Whether you are spending time reminiscing with your 4-H friends about fairs gone by, or you are diligently working on filling out applications for college, scholarships or a job, the details of your 4-H experiences will become fuzzy with time. A written record of your experiences accompanied by supporting photos will ensure your best recollection.

9. The 4-H event organizer will not let you leave the event until you turn in your evaluation and complete the event portfolio page.

Many 4-H events will provide you with a copy of the My 4-H Event Page to complete at the conclusion of a workshop. This is to help you reflect on your experience and capture your thoughts while they are still fresh in your mind.

8. Everyone has a different level of enthusiasm about record keeping.

Some people love record keeping while others loathe it. The 4-H Member’s Personal Portfolio provides three easy formats to capture your experiences: Snapshot of My 4-H Year, six Snapshot pages, and nine full content pages. You can take your pick which level you wish to complete and you can work at your own pace.

7. Someday you will move out of your parent’s house and will have to keep track of your own money in order to pay your bills.

Balancing a checkbook is essential to keeping track of your money. Learning basic record keeping skills as a youth will help you prepare to build a prosperous future.

6. Goals that are not written down are just wishes.

People who write down their goals are 80 percent more likely to achieve their goals. Periodically reviewing progress toward your goals is an important step in the continuous improvement process: plan, do, check, act.

5. Your 4-H leader would write a really awesome letter of reference for you, as long as you can find their contact information.

You will need someone to write a letter of recommendation on your behalf several times throughout your life – for jobs, award applications, scholarships, college admissions or even a promotion. It's a good idea to maintain a list of personal and professional references who will advocate for you.

4. Completing a Michigan 4-H State Awards application is on your bucket list.

If your goal is to be recognized at the state level for the accomplishments of your outstanding 4-H career, you should explore the Michigan 4-H State Awards program. Completing the My 4-H Year in Review page each year will give you a jumpstart on your application.

3. There are lots of people willing to give away free money for college, but you will have to fill out an application to earn it.

Scholarships are a great resource to help you fund your future education, but many will require you to complete an application. Your 4-H portfolio may provide content that will be relevant to answer such questions as what are your goals, or how have you overcome obstacles in your life.

2. Your future boss will want to see how many hours you spent volunteering in your community and learning valuable life skills.

You may not think of community service as a job, but you are definitely learning life skills that can translate to work experience. When you apply and interview for a job, especially your first job, don’t sell yourself short on experience. Be sure to capture your volunteer time.

1. Leaders are not born, they’re grown.

Through the course of your 4-H career, you will have a plethora of opportunities to gain leadership experience. Your portfolio can help you show progression over the course of your 4-H career as you build your leadership capacity over time. Remember, “4-H Grows Here.” 

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