Fun, business and learning in 4-H advisory group meetings

4-H advisory groups can use the 4-H Club Meeting Wheel to improve their meetings, too.

The 4-H Club Meeting Wheel which has three sections; fun, business and learning. The fun section is for group building and recreational and social activities such as refreshments, recreation, relationships, reflection and celebration. This should account for 15-20 minutes. The business section is for group decisions and business and includes items of business meetings, discussion and planning. This should account for 15-20 minutes. The Learning portion is for the program activity and should account for 40-60 minutes, though this will vary considerably with the types of activity and the ages of the group members. This may includes community service learning activities, tours, visual aid materials, guest speakers and presentations, special programs, project work, show-n-tells, demonstrations and talks.
The 4-H Club Meeting Wheel.

Michigan State University Extension recommends that 4-H club meetings are more than just business, suggesting that education and learning are a significant part of club meeting time, as well as spending time on fun and relationship-building. Similarly, 4-H advisory groups (county or statewide councils, boards and committees) can apply lessons learned from the 4-H Club Meeting Wheel to their upcoming agendas.

The purpose of advisory groups is often more business-driven than the average 4-H club, so it’s appropriate to spend about half of advisory group meeting time on business. This may involve planning events, setting dates for clinics or workshops, or setting rules for project areas. The business portion of the meeting is usually determined by an agenda, created by the president/chair, often in conjunction with 4-H staff, and typically run using parliamentary procedure

The most effective 4-H advisory groups, however, should NOT focus solely on business. A portion of an advisory group’s agenda should include fun activities, often centered around icebreakers, team building and building trust among a group. Participation in fun activities should not be limited to teens and youth; adults also build relationships through laughter and fun. Infusing fun can be as simple as playing a name game before a meeting, or might involve a shared experience like a potluck dinner. Fun activities can also be infused throughout the meeting, including creative ways to call for the vote (all those in favor stick out your tongue) or by brainstorming ideas (put your ideas on a paper airplane and throw it at the president).

Finally, 4-H advisory groups should seek opportunities to infuse education into their meetings. A portion of an advisory group’s agenda should include opportunities to learn together. This may look like an annual advisory group orientation to provide a common starting point for new members, a short refresher on the basics of parliamentary procedure, or an educational presentation.

Advisory groups may successfully implement this model over the course of a single meeting, or throughout the entire year. For example, some advisory groups invest a great deal of time in the first part of their year to focus on team and relationship building, perhaps through a retreat, or an advisory group may choose to dedicate an entire meeting to an educational presentation. The percentages on the wheel reflect the ideal division of time for an advisory group throughout the year.

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