Preparing 4-H Volunteer Educators as Project Leaders

May 31, 2024

Preparing 4-H Volunteer Educators as Project Leaders

May 31, 2024

Guidebook and workshop series helps 4-H project leaders learn about their roles, responsibilities, lesson planning, making learning engaging, and working with youth leaders.

California 4-H relies on and recognizes adult 4-H volunteer educators who bring knowledge, experience, and passion to work with youth. Adult 4-H volunteer educators who provide learning experiences (as project leaders) are one of the most important influences on youth development and educational outcomes. California 4-H committed to preparing our volunteers to facilitate high quality youth development and learning experiences to 4-H youth members.

An Update to the 4-H Project Leaders Guide

In August 2023, the UC 4-H Volunteer Educators' Guide: For Those Facilitating 4-H Educational Experiences, authored by a team of 4-H Advisors, was published as a 40-page peer reviewed publication. It was a needed revision to the 2007 4-H Project Leaders' Digest, in order to incorporate the new 4-H Thriving Model of Youth Development, and other emerging research on education.

The guide is useful for 4-H volunteers in community club projects, afterschool club programs, day camps, special interest (SPIN) clubs, teenagers-as-teachers programs, and other educational experiences. The guide provides an overview of the 4-H Youth Development Program, its mission and goals; key program content areas; best practices; volunteer expectations and support; and a look at the underlying science of youth development that support the 4-H approach.

Online Workshop Series for 4-H Project Leaders

In September/October 2023, the volunteer workgroup launched an online workshop series to help make the written guide “come alive” and support 4-H volunteers in meeting, sharing, and learning.

The entire series consists of 4, 2-hour sessions for a total of 8 hours. While the series is probably most beneficial to new 4-H volunteer educators, even those who have been project leaders for years have learned something new.

Thus far, 80 4-H volunteers from 30 counties have completed the 8-hour series! See the list of those who completed the 8-hour series (updated April 1, 2024).

We found statistically significant improvement in all learning objectives:

  1. Nurturing youth sparks, sense of belonging, and positive relationships with adults;
  2. Facilitating hands-on experiential education and planning your project;
  3. Working with all ages and abilities; and
  4. Creating effective youth-adult partnerships & working with youth leaders.

The sessions were valuable in helping 4-H volunteers strengthen their knowledge of important youth development and educational concepts needed to implement high quality 4-H learning experiences.

“What were the most important things you learned you plan to use in your 4-H projects?”

"I got some ideas on how to development better relationships with youth and ideas on how to help them find their sparks."

"I really appreciated all the very practical suggestions about how to actually strengthen the foundational components - there are several I will by trying out in or projects and meetings."

"I learned I can lean on the established material for youth development. Feeling supported in this new endeavor as I am new to this."

"Talking with other project leaders, and learning tips from more experienced leaders on how to engage youth."

"There is a project plan form after I planned my meetings completely. I will be printing the form and using it."

"Really great to learn more about the 4-H project plan. I've led projects for 5 years and this will be the first year I prepare one (a bit belatedly). Thank you!"

"I'm definitely sharing the project planning document with other project leaders in my club. This was a very helpful tool I was not aware of. Thank you!"

"The importance to have all ages being involved in the projects and allowing the older members teach the younger members."

"The characteristics and implication for activities for each age group presented nicely and I will consider this more in the project activities."

"How to tailor each project/project meeting to all the different age groups and learning abilities."

"Hart's Ladder (thinking how to move up to upper level would help me plan activities & project meetings). Leadership Competence Chart was wonderful."

"Give members more options to voice what they want to learn and how they can learn it. Give them more opportunities to lead and help in any way they can."

Fall 2024 Workshop Series for 4-H Project Leaders

The series is being offered again on Wednesdays in September 2024. Registration is now open! Register