What is a 4-H advisory group?

Michigan 4-H advisory groups help extend the reach of programs.

4-H advisory group volunteers and staff
4-H advisory group volunteers and staff pose for a photo at 4-H Kettunen Center. Photo by Michigan State University Extension.

Michigan 4-H utilizes volunteer-driven advisory groups in the form of county-wide 4-H councils and project-based boards, associations and committees to provide leadership and direction for 4-H youth development programs in their communities. The specific role and function of each advisory group can vary greatly by county or project area emphasis, but their big-picture goals and purposes across the state are the same.

4-H advisory groups can be valuable resources in creating cohesion across programs, fundraising, connecting our programs to community needs and providing additional “boots on the ground” for outreach for members and volunteers. If programs are reliant solely on a staff to create, lead and implement, they will be limited to an individual staff person’s capacity. When volunteers take ownership, programs can grow exponentially in communities.

Volunteers serving on 4-H advisory groups can also serve as project-area experts. For example, it’s highly likely that an active horse leader in the community who is a professional in the horse industry has insight into rules and best practices for the 4-H horse program that the 4-H staff person may not. So, those project committees can be valuable in advising on county-wide policies as they pertain to a certain project area because they may be industry experts.

4-H advisory groups can add value to county-wide 4-H programs by raising funds to support scholarships and events, hosting recognition programs highlighting the work of members and volunteers, and providing feedback on programs and insight on new program opportunities designed to meet the needs of youth. When volunteer-driven 4-H advisory groups take ownership of these tasks, their potential community impact and therefore benefit to the local 4-H program increases significantly.

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 4-hleadership@msu.edu.  

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