Onboarding New Club Leaders

4-H is hard.

If you are a potential 4-H club leader, there is a lot to learn.  However, volunteers need not learn everything in their first year of service.  This would be overwhelming.  Rather, their initial onboarding should focus on understanding positive youth development, and basic club management.

Fortunately, Florida 4-H has developed some solid tools for onboarding new 4-H club leaders, but it is up to you to determine how to implement them in a way that makes sense for your county program.

  •  4-H101:  4-H101 guides volunteers in understanding the structure, best practices and guidelines for organizing 4-H clubs.  The first several chapters help volunteers understand the foundations of positive youth development while latter chapters focus on the logistics of building and managing a club.
  • Volunteer Training Series Orientation Videos:  While research suggests volunteers prefer in-person training with peers, that is not always possible.  A volunteer can watch these videos on their own and then meet with you to deepen their understanding.
  • Volunteer Training Series: Still more helpful handouts to complement your volunteer training program.

Other things to consider:

  •  Are you onboarding new club leaders throughout the year whenever someone new expresses and interest?  Stop it.  Decide when your onboarding season (late spring/summer?).  If a potential club leader expresses an interest beyond your planned onboarding season send them to serve as an apprentice club leader with a successful club, or use them to volunteer with other events and activities.  It’s a great way to get on-the-job training, and save yourself a little stress.
  • Potential volunteers don’t always make appointments.  Have your potential club leader plan and packet ready to go NOW.
  • Remember onboarding is just one small part of the total education of a volunteer.  Do not overwhelm them early on.  Onboarding should focus on positive youth development and basic club management.

Happy Onboarding!


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