What am I supposed to do as secretary of my group?

Being a secretary of an organization or group is a major responsibility. What are the roles of this officer position?

A secretary has many responsibilities in preparing for a meeting as well as throughout a meeting, including roll call, minutes, handling correspondence (letters, cards, emails, etc.) and assisting with developing an agenda. The accompanying article, “What should be in a secretary report?,” focuses on what pertinent information needs to be in official minutes. This article will focus on other roles and responsibilities that a secretary is responsible for.

Roll call can be a very simple responsibility for a secretary. The “traditional” method of taking roll call in a 4-H club is to have the secretary call out the members names then record next to their name an “X” for attendance or “A” for absence. If the club has an excused policy, then the recording secretary may record “Ex” for excused. Another basic method of recording attendance is to have the members sign in as they arrive and this becomes the official record of attendance.

Roll call can also be viewed as a way to promote public speaking and relationship building within a club. In this type of scenario, the secretary would announce the members name as above, but instead of responding with “Here,” the member would respond with an answer to a predetermined question. The question should be announced prior to roll call so all members in attendance would have a chance to think about their answer. Simple questions can be used such as:

  • “What is your favorite color?”
  • “What is your favorite movie?”
  • “What are you most looking forward to for summer?”

Or, a more in-depth question could be asked:

  • “I would improve 4-H by…”
  • “If I was President of the United States, I would…”

Having the youth stand up and answer questions allows for them to practice public speaking as well as develop relationships with other members that may have similar interest. Taking normal, ordinary tasks and turning them into fun learning opportunities can enhance the experience of the membership.

Another role that a secretary plays in a club includes working with the president in order to establish an agenda. Normally the president has the responsibility for preparing the agenda, but utilizing the secretary and their recall of minutes from the previous meeting is an asset. The secretary should help the president in determining any old business or unfinished business. They can also keep the president on track of any motions that were tabled for the next meeting.

Handling correspondence is another role of a secretary. Correspondence can be letters, cards or emails. The secretary may be asked by the group to send a leader a get well card or email the Michigan State University Extension office regarding a question or concern. The club also may receive a thank you card for a community service project they participated in. With any correspondence, the secretary should report that they either completed the task or read the cards, letters or emails to the group.

The secretary position has many roles and responsibilities as part of their official office. It is important an individual interested in being a secretary of a group knows their responsibilities and willingly accepts the position. Keeping accurate account of minutes, membership and correspondence is an important responsibility for the overall success of a group.

The Michigan State University Extension Leadership Civic Engagement team offers trainings on officer roles and responsibilities. Utilizing “Helping You Help Officers and Committees,” a publication that outlines officer roles and responsibilities, can assist the secretary as well as all officers to understand their roles and responsibilities. For further information, contact 4-Hleadership@anr.msu.edu.

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