How does being an officer in a 4-H club develop leadership skills?

Youth serving as club officers can pass on their knowledge to younger members as well as increase their own life and leadership skills.

Many youth are looking for ways to increase their leadership skills as they prepare for college, jobs and life.  Michigan State University Extension recommends becoming an officer in a 4-H club as a way to learn and practice these skills! 

Michigan 4-H programs work on the experiential learning model, which believes that “learning by doing” is a very effective way to both learn and practice life skills.  Teenagers can help pass on the knowledge they have accumulated through the years by becoming teen leaders in their 4-H clubs, and in the process, they will also be acquiring leadership skills. 

There are many elected officer roles in 4-H clubs.  Most groups have a president, vice president, secretary and treasurer.  Some groups also decide to have a historian, community service officer, reporter, equipment manager or other specific roles to the needs of the group.  Besides practicing leadership skills, becoming an elected officer in a club also helps youth to have an active voice in their club so they can guide their own development. 

Elected officers in a club will have many opportunities to practice communication skills as they facilitate club meetings, give demonstrations, record the minutes of the meetings, write letters to local businesses, communicate with potential guest speakers and represent their club in public.  They will also practice their planning and organizing skills as they develop an annual plan for the educational needs of their group, organize a fundraiser or work with adult leaders and staff to coordinate a field trip or overnight experience. 

Being an officer in a club can also help youth understand how to contribute to group effort.  Sometimes this is a hard concept to grasp until youth are actually in the position of being responsible for others and their educational needs.  An elected officer will have the chance to see the big picture of what a club is trying to accomplish in a program year and will learn how to do things that are best for the group instead of just worrying about their own individual needs. 

Experiential learning is most effective when youth are active participants in their own learning, and being an officer in a 4-H club is a great way to do this.  Explore more ideas about the life skills learned through being an officer, how officers help determine the success of a club and how to use the experiential learning model on the MSU Extension website.

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