Preparing for Potential 4-H’ers

I was talking casually with a new 4-H parent once and she very innocently commented, “I read in the paper that I could drop by my local county extension office and find out about 4-H, and so I did.  But it didn’t really seem like they wanted me.”

Me:  Wait…what?!

Parent:  Yeah, first the woman at the front desk said, “Well, the 4-H Agent isn’t here so I can take a message or you can come back.”  So, I left a message.

Me:  Did you get a call back?

Parent:  Well yeah, and I was told I could drop by the office the next day when the agent was there, so I did.  But when I got there, it was like no one was ready.  I got a lot of details about a lot of things I barely remember, and the agent pulled a lot of pieces of paper from different files all over the office.  It took a long time because nothing was prepared in advance and there was so much information I was confused.  Honestly, it just seemed to be kind of a mess.   When I visited (insert other youth serving organization) I was able to drop by the office and they had new member packets waiting by the door.  I could just grab one, ask any questions, and be on my way.

No, this isn’t a specific example, but rather a collection of anecdotes I’ve heard over the years (some from my own program).  The big point of the day is, you guessed it, be ready for potential 4-H families when they arrive in your office!  Here are some suggestions to prepare in advance:

Things to Have Ready for the New 4-H Year

An Up-to-Date Website
If you are running press releases you will want to share your website URL.  If you share your website URL you’ll want it to be up-to-date!

A Business Card with Your Website Address
You have your website up-to-date and current, might as well share it!  Hopefully, you (volunteers, staff, etc.) are slated to do some promotional exhibits during the fall (i.e. Back-to-School Fairs, etc.)  Hand these out freely.  Interested people will take the time to look you up later even if they don’t have the time to talk right away.

A Trained Staff
I know not everyone has the luxury of having a large reception staff, but take a few minutes in your next county staff meeting or similar venue to educate others on what to say/hand out to potential new 4-H families who drop by your office in the Fall.  Pay attention to customer service!  Whoever is the first to come into contact with potential 4-H families needs to understand the necessity of being a salesman on behalf of our programs.

A New 4-H Member/Family Packet
Something that families can walk in and pick up immediately.  You might include a general county brochure, sample newsletters from the previous year, 4-H calendar for the year, a list of clubs, etc.  Make sure these materials are available on your website as well.  Don’t assume that busy families have time to drive to your office to pick up these resources.

Potential Marketing Materials to Have on Hand

4-H General Marketing Brochure  (Or your own county marketing brochure) http://florida4h.org/Marketing/documents/County_Broch_english.pdf

Experience 4-H Brochure http://florida4h.org/getinvolved1/Experience4H.pdf

Start Your Project Adventure Sheets

Here’s one I bet you have heard…”Do you do anything with X (x = any project). These printable project sheets provide a nice summary of the variety of activities we offer in each project area.

Note: Look under the heading, “Start Your Project Adventure”

Citizenship/Leadership: http://florida4h.org/programs_/citizenship-and-leadership-program/

Science: http://florida4h.org/programs_/science-program/

Healthy Living:  http://florida4h.org/programs_/healthy-living/

What else? What do you typically have on hand for potential 4-H families that drop by your office? Share your ideas in the comment section below!

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