How to be an involved 4-H parent in 10 easy steps – Step 10: What do you get out of it?

Your child has joined a 4-H club. So what do you, as the parent, get out of it?

Let’s start by clarifying there is no such thing as “easy” when it comes to being a parent. Parents play an important role in 4-H programs by supporting and encouraging their child throughout the 4-H experience, in much the same way they would advocate for the child through school, sports or other activities. Being an informed and supporting parent can enhance your child’s 4-H experience to ensure they receive maximum benefit from the program. This article is part of a series that will provide a number of tips for 4-H families to bolster their 4-H experience.

Step 10: What do you get out of it?

As discussed in “Step 8: Make 4-H a family activity,” there are opportunities for parents to be engaged in the 4-H program. Parent involvement can happen through formal participation as a volunteer or informally as you interact with your own child through their learning experiences.

The Michigan State University Extension article, “4-H Volunteers: What your 4-H staff member wants you to know,” highlights some of the important impacts volunteers make in the 4-H program. If you choose to volunteer with 4-H, you will need to be certain to work with your local 4-H staff to complete MSU Extension’s volunteer selection process.

Regardless to what level you choose to be involved with the 4-H program, you are bound to learn something new and experience some personal growth as well. The MSU Extension article, “Increase your network through volunteerism,” describes one of the personal benefits of being an adult volunteer: networking.

Another advantage to volunteering is improving your skills such as communication, organization and leadership. These valuable skills may be transferable to help you achieve your career goals in your present or future employment. “Volunteering benefits job seekers” by MSU Extension highlights these benefits.

One caution to be mindful of as you consider the role you will be engaged with in the organization as a parent or volunteer is that your child’s 4-H career should be their own. It should not be an extension of your past 4-H experience. The 4-H organization or the county 4-H program may not be “the same as it used to be,” “the way I remember it” or “how things were done in the county where I grew up.” As long as your child is learning, having a positive experience and satisfied with the progress of their own 4-H career, the evolution of the program may not be a “problem” that you need to set right.

Step 4: Backseat driving” provides pointers for how you can be an involved parent without overstepping the boundary of allowing your child the opportunity to create and enjoy their own 4-H career.

Your family’s 4-H journey can provide your child with an unlimited number of learning encounters. Whether your journey is just getting underway or if your family has been involved in 4-H for years, you are likely to find something new to learn and experience at every step along the way. You will find there are people along the path to help guide you, but ultimately the path of your family’s 4-H expedition will be individually determined.

For more in this series

Did you find this article useful?