Use your 4-H record book to build an employability portfolio

Learn more about the relationship between a 4-H record book and an employability portfolio.

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Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

Michigan 4-H staff and volunteers continue to foster the use of some sort of 4-H record book with young people involved in 4-H projects. One such book, the Michigan 4-H Member's Personal Portfolio, is a tool that helps reinforce life skills such as keeping records, goal setting and planning and organizing. Regardless of the source, most record books will include the following categories:

  • Personal identification and membership information
  • 4-H project experience
  • 4-H leadership experience
  • 4-H community service experience
  • Other 4-H involvement
  • 4-H recognition and awards
  • Non-4-H activities that exhibit your skills, abilities and teamwork

With a little practice and guidance, a 4-H member can learn to transfer the content of their 4-H record book(s) into an employability portfolio for future use in interviews and with potential employers. An employability portfolio is more general, as opposed to highlighting skills used in a particular career. It focuses on a person’s skills related to academic achievement or educational training, personal management and teamwork. Here are some examples of documents that a 4-H member might take from a 4-H record book to build the content of a portfolio:

Exhibits related to educational training and achievement

  • Copy of hunter safety certificate as part of participating in 4-H shooting sports
  • Copy of Youth for the Quality Care of Animals certificate
  • Copy of CPR or first aid certification
  • List of educational workshops attended as a part of 4-H
  • List of awards and recognition received through 4-H involvement

Exhibits related to personal management (organizational skills, trustworthiness, time management)

  • 4-H club or project meeting attendance record
  • Letter of recommendation from a 4-H leader

Exhibits related to teamwork

  • Picture of the member serving as a 4-H club officer with a brief caption that identifies their role
  • Picture of the member participating in a 4-H community service project with a brief description of the project
  • Picture of the member serving as a 4-H teen leader or camp counselor with a brief caption that identifies their role

4-H Youth Development provides a wealth of experiences to help prepare young people for their futures. Getting the most out of 4-H record books by helping 4-H members create a portfolio for future use is just one more way to encourage hands-on experiential learning while enhancing workforce readiness. Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H Youth Development helps to prepare young people for successful futures. For more information or resources on career exploration, workforce preparation, financial education, or entrepreneurship, email us at

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