Different voting models in action

Michigan 4-H advisory groups utilize a variety of different models in decision-making structures

Michigan 4-H Youth Development utilizes advisory groups to assist staff in providing direction for 4-H programs. These groups may be structured in a variety of different ways, which are typically outlined in a group’s bylaws. The previous article in this series, “4-H advisory groups: Who votes?,” examined the advantages and disadvantages of open voting compared to a pre-determined (elected board) voting model. When considering a determined representative model, there are several different ways advisory groups may be structured. Consider the following variations.

Club representative

In this model, each 4-H community club would elect a pre-determined number of club representatives to attend advisory meetings and report back to the club on the business being discussed. The number of representatives per community club can be a pre-determined number for each group, or be based in club membership as a whole or by project area. For example, a club of 10 members can send one representative, 20 members can send two representatives and so on.

Species/project area representative

This model is often utilized in animal-based 4-H advisory groups, where a larger board is responsible for overseeing several different project areas. For example, a small animal advisory group may have oversight of rabbits, poultry, goats and companion animals. Sometimes these species areas may elect a representative for the advisory group at an annual banquet or meeting, and the representatives may be tied to species superintendent responsibilities.

Vote per club

In this model, the individuals that attend each meeting may rotate, but each club or group is limited to a set number of votes. As with the club representative model, the number of clubs each vote receives can be set equally across the board or can be based in club membership. This prevents one club from dominating the conversation or being the determining factor on a vote.

Elected board

This model often involves an election of membership from a larger body. This can be accomplished at county-wide events such as recognition programs or annual meetings, or by utilizing ballots mailed to clubs or individual members. In this model, individuals are not expected to represent a specific club or species/project area; instead they represent the membership that elected them. These representatives usually serve for a set term to allow other individuals to be involved in the advisory group.

In each of these models, Michigan 4-H emphasizes the value of including youth voice in decision-making. Historically, counties have occasionally not included youth in programmatic decision-making at a county level. Because the Michigan 4-H program is at its core a youth development program, youth voice should be emphasized at every level. Many county advisory groups utilize youth and adults working in partnership for decision-making.

Instead of offering just one elected representative, consider a youth representative and adult representative in each of the areas. If your group would like to learn more about youth-adult partnership or different advisory group structures, contact Michigan State University Extension’s 4-H leadership and civic engagement team at 4-hleadership@anr.msu.edu or review the materials on our 4-H Advisory Group Support webpage.

Other articles in series

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