Staff role in Michigan 4-H advisory groups

Supporting and empowering volunteers in 4-H advisory groups.

Group high-fiving each other

Volunteer-driven 4-H advisory groups are a critical part of the success of Michigan 4-H Youth Development programs. These groups rely on volunteers to take ownership of the agendas and functions of the group for maximum effectiveness. Because of the heavy reliance on volunteers, sometimes the role of staff in these groups can be unclear.

Staff serve as ex-officio, non-voting members on Michigan 4-H advisory groups. This means that by nature of their position, they have a seat and a voice at the table, but don’t vote. Staff cannot serve in elected positions on the advisory group or serve as a signer on the account. While staff are not able to cast a vote, they are expected to assure 4-H advisory groups are in alignment with the Michigan 4-H mission, vision, 4-H Guiding Principles and policies and procedures as directed by Michigan State University Extension and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USD) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). In this regard, on a rare occasion, a staff person may need to override the decisions of the group in order to assure compliance with 4-H expectations.

The extent to which a staff person engages in the day-to-day activities of a 4-H advisory group may vary based on a number of factors. Both a new staff person and a newly established 4-H advisory group might require a 4-H staff person to be more engaged by attending and supporting meetings and events while seeking opportunities to empower council members as they move forward.

Once established, a well-functioning advisory group should only demand a few hours of staff time each month. Ideally, these groups will be driven by the members that comprise them, and those members will create their agendas, stay on top of minutes and treasurer’s reports, and follow-through on any tasks or committee functions.

For more information on adding value to or establishing a local 4-H advisory group, contact your Michigan State University Extension county office or the 4-H Leadership and Civic Engagement Work Team at

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