Why is taking attendance an important best practice for 4-H clubs?

4-H clubs should always take attendance at their meetings.

Youth sitting at a table with a sign behind them saying
Photo by National 4-H Council

Michigan State University Extension believes best practice for 4-H clubs is to take attendance at all meetings and it is the responsibility of the secretary to keep an accurate record of each member’s attendance. Although Roberts Rules of Order, 12th edition doesn’t talk about requiring attendance, it does share some reasons why attendance is important. In addition, there are many other benefits to clubs that provide support and strength in many ways.

Below are some of the benefits to taking attendance:

  • It allows members to feel a sense of value. Members will see that their attendance matters and they are noticed when they are at a meeting.
  • It provides the members with a sense of belonging. Starting a meeting off with something as simple as attendance allows everyone to participate and have a voice. This small step can lead to members opening up, feeling more comfortable and feeling as if they belong in the group.
  • It holds people accountable. Members will be less likely to vote to do something without follow-through when their attendance is recorded at the meeting the vote took place. Members are less likely to speak ill of a meeting or situation when they are recorded as present. Instead, they may work harder to solve disagreements or unsettling discussion about an issue discussed at a meeting.
  • It allows leadership of the group to know who to share information with after the meeting. The leadership will be able to quickly see who was not able to attend and can reach out to them to keep everyone current on the club happenings.
  • It helps leadership plan better for the future. They can see if certain meetings were less attended and consider changing the schedule. For example, if the August meeting is always poorly attended, it is possible with last chance summer vacations, school getting ready to start and the meeting being after the fair is over that this would be a good month to take off and recharge for another year.
  • It can help leadership see if the meetings are relevant and on point. If many meetings are poorly attended, then changes might be in order for the group.
  • It provides a record for meeting quorum. If the club or group has by-laws that state a certain number of members must be present in order to conduct the meeting (quorum), then attendance is a must. Taking attendance will allow the president to see if a quorum is actually present before proceeding with the meeting and will show proof of this after the minutes are placed on record.

The process for taking attendance can be done in many ways. It can be fun, quick or you can use it as a way to help youth connect or get more familiar with each other. The important part is to take the attendance prior to every meeting. The formal steps to taking attendance can be found in the resource, “Congratulations! You Are Secretary of Your 4-H Club.”

It reads as follows:

"Enter all members’ names and addresses at the beginning of your club year. List members alphabetically. When new members join, add their names to the end of the list. While conducting roll call, the secretary remains seated and announces how roll call is to be answered, then calls the names of the members. Roll call can be done in a fun, interactive way by asking questions that members must answer when their name is called. Other methods include calling each name, passing around a sign-in sheet and taking attendance as members arrive. The method that works best may depend on the size of the club. Following roll call, guests should either introduce themselves or be introduced. The secretary should record the names of the guest in their minutes as well as attach the attendance roster with the minutes. Smaller clubs may choose to include names within the minutes, while larger ones may choose to attach the roster. In keeping attendance records, the secretary should mark an “X” after the name of the member when present and 'A' when absent. Clubs may choose to keep additional information such as addresses, phone numbers, years in 4-H, birthdate and other information within their attendance registry, but this is not required."

For more information on club proceedings and officer positions, visit MSU Extension’s So You Are an Officer Club Series. Other helpful MSU Extension articles to consider are “Officer roles and responsibilities in a 4-H club” or “4-H club by-laws: A great tool to keep your club on track.”

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