Confession time… I used to try to skip out on some visits to my 4-H clubs.
Before you judge me too harshly allow me to explain. Like most people I put a lot of thought into which activities are going to provide the most benefit for the time spent. Certainly, a brand new club deserves a visit (or 3 or 4), but what about the club that has been in existence for 20+ years? There are only so many free nights…can’t you just skip that one?
No. (Easy enough?)
Even the best 4-H club leaders can fall into a funk, forget important pieces of a quality 4-H club meeting, etc. A visit will allow you to see this in action, and help you either coach the club individually, or guide future county-wide educational programs for volunteers.
Every club has some value, and every club will have room for improvement. The tricky part of evaluating is the ability to hone in on the one or two things (no more, if at all possible) which if the club improves upon, will have the biggest impact. Common ones include:
- Appropriate time breakdown of club meeting time (i.e. 15 minutes for recreation, 15 minutes for business, and 30 minutes for the educational program).
- Age-appropriate parliamentary procedure for members.
- Member-led vs. volunteer-led meetings.
- Experiential (Hands-on) educational activities using 4-H curriculum.
Who should conduct club visits? In most cases it would make a lot of sense for the county 4-H faculty or staff member to design an educational program (i.e. How to Prepare for County Events, Par Pro, etc.) to “shop around” to the clubs and use that as a smooth way to gain entry into club meetings, but there are other alternatives. Consider using other volunteers to conduct these visits. It’s a nice middle manager role for a volunteer who is doing a great job in their club and wants to help others.
For more information on developing high quality clubs, check out: