Screenshot of the first page of the 4-H Gold Standard document.

Michigan 4-H Advisory Council Responsibilities, Best Practices & Requirements


October 1, 2018 -

Responsibilities of Michigan 4-H Advisory Groups

4-H advisory groups (also known as councils, boards, or committees) and have different levels of oversight in county 4-H programs. The county-wide advisory group (sometimes called a 4-H council) is typically made up of representatives (adult and youth) from across the county and/or other project-based advisory groups that exist in the county.  Under the direction and oversight of MSUE staff, county-wide 4-H advisory groups provide leadership for the overall 4-H program and might provide oversight to project committees.  Project-based advisory groups (livestock committee, horse council, etc.) have many of the same responsibilities as a county-wide advisory group, however, their responsibilities typically relate to a specific program or project area.

Dividing Responsibilities

Best Practices for Michigan 4-H Advisory Groups

Michigan 4-H utilizes seven guiding principles to shape the work of our programming. These guiding principles put a high value in involving youth in their own development and decision making. By involving youth in 4-H advisory groups, we are equipping them with skills for their future, helping them establish relationships with adults, and giving them a voice in programming created with youth in mind.
- Youth develop positive relationships with adults and peers.
- Youth are physically and emotionally safe.
- Youth are actively engaged in their own development.
- Youth are considered participants rather than recipients in the learning process.
- Youth develop skills that help them succeed.
- Youth recognize, understand and appreciate multiculturalism.
- Youth grow and contribute as active citizens through service and leadership.
Learn more about the Guiding Principles:

4-H Advisory Groups are expected to work in cooperation with 4-H Staff to:
- Support the mission and policies of 4-H programs at state, national, and local levels.
- Have a stated purpose and defined responsibilities.
- Be comprised of at least equal membership of youth and adults, emphasizing youth in decision making roles.
- Identify needs to enhance county programming.
- Set goals for the county program.
- Raise and allocate resources for the support of programming objectives.
- Publicize and advocate for Michigan State University Extension and 4-H.
- Represent the local community by seeking participation of people of various ages, genders, ethnicities, etc.
- Establish bylaws outlining the structure and purpose of the advisory group.
- Develop job descriptions for roles of members, officers, and committee members.
- Provide an orientation to the purpose of the advisory group annually or when new members are brought on board.
- Consider term limits to encourage the introduction of new members and ideas.
- Train members in youth-adult partnerships to maximize youth voice.
- Include members without first-hand experience in 4-H in order to better connect to the broader community and bring in new ideas.
- Advisory boards, councils, and committees play an important role in advising staff and supporting local 4-H programs. Final decisions regarding 4-H programming are at the discretion of 4-H staff.

Requirements for Advisory Groups

Follow the mission & vision of MSU Extension and 4-H
- The mission of Michigan State University Extension is to help people improve their lives through an educational process that applies knowledge to critical issues, needs and opportunities.
- Michigan 4-H Youth Development mobilizes volunteers and communities to meet the needs of youth. The mission of Michigan 4-H is to create non-formal, educational opportunities to help youth thrive in a complex and changing world.
All advisory groups must be chartered  youth thrive in a complex and changing world.
All advisory groups must be chartered
- All 4-H entities (such as clubs, councils, boards and committees) must go through a three-part authorization process in order to operate under the name of 4-H and receive tax-exempt, nonprofit status from the Internal Revenue Service. Step 1 is to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. Step 2 is applying for and receiving a 4-H charter. Step 3 is having Michigan State University certify to the IRS that the club or group is a 4-H entity. More information is available at
Follow MSU Extension 4-H Financial Guidelines
- 4-H clubs and groups are considered MSUE-sponsored groups which are dictated by federal legislation and MSU policy. It's extremely important that all 4-H clubs be able to document the source of monies raised and how funds are disbursed. Any 4-H club or group that disbands with money left in its account must turn over those funds to the county 4-H council or county MSU Extension office. More information is available at
MSU Extension and 4-H brand
- Advisory Groups are sanctioned by Michigan 4-H and Michigan State University Extension to provide guidance and support to local 4-H programs. Efforts to publicize the connection between Advisory Groups and Michigan 4-H are vital when Michigan 4-H Advisory Groups provide leadership for, or participate in, local programs, events, or activities.
Must follow MSU Extension Civil Rights procedures
- MSU is an affirmative-action, equal-opportunity employer. Michigan State University Extension programs and materials are open to all without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion, age, height, weight, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, family status or veteran status. Accommodations for persons with disabilities must be provided to ensure equal and full participation in MSU Extension sponsored programs and events.

Advisory Council Members must complete the MSU Extension Volunteer Selection Process

Members of councils, boards and committees are representatives of MSUE and 4-H as volunteers in their community and are required to complete the Michigan State University Volunteer Selection Process and abide by all MSU Extension policies regarding volunteer selection, screening, and training. More information on this process is available at

Establish a stated purpose, developed in agreement with MSU Extension/4-H staff

- Every board, committee or commission needs to have a clear purpose or objective to be able to conduct business in an efficient manner. Having a clear purpose helps the group stay on target when daily operations or different personalities and agendas steer them in a different direction. Best practice is to have this purpose clearly outlined in the by-laws as the first and second article. For example Article I. Name Article II: Purpose.

What Advisory Groups Are Not

The items below are reserved for MSU Extension staff and not volunteers.

- The final decision-making authority for 4-H youth development programs.
- The disciplinary arm of 4-H.
- Able to dismiss volunteers or members from 4-H club, county, or group activities.
- Able to hire or fire 4-H staff.

Michigan 4-H Advisory Group Resource Team

Michigan State University Extension staff work closely with Michigan 4-H Advisory Groups in communities around the state. County-based 4-H Program Coordinators are often the staff that work most closely with county or community based 4-H Advisory Groups. In addition to the support offered by 4-H Program Coordinators, a team of MSU Extension Educators are available to assist 4-H Advisory Groups located anywhere in Michigan.
- Please contact the Michigan 4-H Advisory Group Resource Team at to learn more about the services offered by the team.

Michigan State University is an affirmative-action, equal opportunity employer. Michigan State University Extension programs and materials are open to all without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion, age, height, weight, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, family status or veteran status.


Accessibility Questions:

For questions about accessibility and/or if you need additional accommodations for a specific document, please send an email to ANR Communications & Marketing at