Do you have a 4-H club calendar?

Clubs that plan ahead experience greater involvement by 4-H families.

4-H club members hold their hands over their heart as they are saying the pledge at a 4-H club meeting.  Courtesy of: National 4-H Council
4-H club members hold their hands over their heart as they are saying the pledge at a 4-H club meeting. Courtesy of: National 4-H Council

Planning a club calendar can help 4-H clubs accomplish their goals and keep everyone focused. According to Michigan State University Extension, club officers can lead the club members in this process. 4-H clubs that plan by securing dates, locations, times and planning activities and events often experience greater family involvement. The Michigan 4-H Club Development website offers resources for members and leaders to assist with this process, including tips and tools for planning your club year.

4-H clubs should begin by looking at the goals the club has decided on for the year. What projects or specific skills did members want to focus on or gain? Did the club already decide how they would accomplish those goals by discussing action steps? If they did, then insert those into the club calendar and arrange for the resources needed for those to happen. If goals have not been developed by the group, now is a great time to brainstorm ideas with the group. Clubs can do this by posting a large sheet of paper and recording all the ideas the group can think of, even those that seem unrealistic.

Next, create a list of the months in which the club will meet. The club could use large sheets of paper and begin listing what needs to happen in the months to achieve the club goals. Consider that the weather conditions may affect which activities the club wants to place in different months. Think about the order and timing of tasks so that they make sense. Once items are on the monthly lists, decide who will be responsible for ensuring that these things happen. Who will get the supplies, contact the speakers and plan the activities? This is a great time to divide up the work or delegate the tasks. Club officers can ask members to volunteer and list their name next to the item they will be responsible for and when they will have it completed by. It can help to have the members check in with someone, such as the 4-H club leader, to let them know the activity has been accomplished or if they are experiencing challenges getting something completed. 

Finally, decide who will record all the information and distribute it to the families by printing or posting it for everyone to see. When families have this information, they can place it on their schedules and stay connected to what is happening in the club. When families can plan and know what to expect, they are usually more willing to help and contribute. When members are involved in deciding the events and activities for the year, they are learning planning skills and will be excited for what is happening in the future. Youth are more connected to the club experience when they get to make the plans become a reality. It also allows parents who may have specific connections or talents to contribute to the club experience. Fostering this sense of belonging to the 4-H club through the use of youth voice and group planning helps youth thrive in 4-H.

If you are interested in learning more about MSU Extension or Michigan 4-H, visit your local MSU Extension office.

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