Michigan 4-H Advisory Groups By-laws Template


May 31, 2016 -

Michigan 4-H Advisory Groups

By-Laws: Sample Template

The Backbone of Advisory Groups

A well-written set of by-laws will provide organizations with direction and structure. In addition they outline the
major functions of the organization. Generally, by-laws comprise all the rules by which an organization is governed, and are usually considered one in the same with organizational constitutions. By-laws are of such importance that they should not be changed, except after suitable notice is given to the members, and then a vote of the entire membership has taken place. Because of the overall organizational implications associated with by-laws, programmatic rules and regulations are generally held in a separate document and should be maintained separately from the organization’s constitution and bylaws. The following template provides a basic structure and suggested language for 4-H clubs and organizations.

Article I- Name

Article II- Object/Purpose- The purpose drives the work of the organization. An entire article has been developed to creating an organizational purpose statement: Creating a strong purpose creates a strong committee. 4-H organizations should review MSUE and 4-H vision, mission, and guiding principles as a potential
starting point for purpose statements.

Article III- Members – This section can include language regarding the qualifications of members, number of
members, tenure, resignation, vacancies, attendance policies, etc. It is required that all 4-H organizations follow
Michigan State University Extension’s civil rights policies and assure that our programs are open to all. It is
recommended to include the most updated MSUE indicia in this section, the current statement follows:

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.

Further, MSUE 4-H staff members have ultimate authority over 4-H organizations, and serve on all advisory
groups as ex-officio members. Consider the following language:

Michigan State University Extension 4-H Staff serve as ex-officio members of all 4-H organizations and
committees without voting rights. No staff member shall hold an elected office or be an elected member
of the organization.

Article IV- Officers- This section should outline each office, the duties associated with that office, the process for
electing, terms, tenure, vacancies, and any considerations for when individuals may need to be removed from

Article V- Meetings- If the organization functions using a standard meeting date (such as the first Thursday of
the month), it should be noted here. It’s also wise to add the following language incase alternative meeting
dates are determined.

…unless otherwise specified by the membership or executive board.

Requirements for quorum, special meetings, meeting format (in-person, hybrid, or virtual), and meeting notices
should also be outlined in this section.

Meetings will be held in person when feasible but may be moved to either virtual or a hybrid model when
necessary. Virtual is when everyone meets virtually; hybrid is where participants may join either in
person or virtually.

Article VI- Executive Board- often comprised of the officers of the organization, but sometimes also involve
otherwise elected members. This section should specify the composition, specific powers of the board, and
meeting times if separate from that of the general membership. (For example, some executive boards are
granted the authority to approve expenses up to a certain amount without needing to get approval from the
entire membership, this type of power should be spelled out here.)

Article VII- Committees- Be sure to note in this section if officers (often the President) serve as ex-officio
members on all committees. MSU Extension Staff should also be listed as ex-officio members of all committees.

Article VIII- Authority- This section can outline the governing documents that organizations can refer to when
not otherwise outlined in the by-laws. Roberts Rules of Order is the standard protocol for all parliamentary
matters. Using the language “current edition” will allow the organization to follow the most updated
procedures without needing to change their bylaws every time a new edition is published. The Michigan 4-H
Treasurer’s Record Book and MSUE Financial Guidelines serve as the reference point for all financial questions
not addressed in the by-laws.

Article IX- Restrictions- This section outlines any further restrictions that the organization must function within.
For example, all funds raised in the name of 4-H must have a policy in place for their disbandment, project based advisory groups typically turn over property to the county 4-H council. County 4-H councils typically turn over property to the county MSU Extension Office. Sample language follows:

Upon dissolution of this organization, all remaining funds and property will be turned over to the county MSU
Extension Office.

Because MSU Extension 4-H Staff are ultimately responsible for the decisions made by advisory groups, MSUE
staff must maintain an ability to veto decisions in conflict with MSU Extension/4-H policies. It is understood
that this veto authority is used with discretion. Sample language follows:

Any decision passed in conflict with the policies or practices of the county 4-H program or MSU Extension
may be vetoed by the MSUE 4-H Staff.

1. Veto Authority

Article IX- Amendments of Bylaws- There is no one set way to amend bylaws. Each organization can decide for itself how to changes can be made. Always specify the exact requirements for making amendments, and make sure that the rights of all members continue to be protected.

For further assistance in establishing by-laws for your 4-H club, advisory council or committees, contact the MSU Extension Leadership/Civic Engagement work team at 4-HLeadership@anr.msu.edu

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.


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