‘What is a Cloverbud?’ and other 4-H FAQs

LENOIR, NC (December 21, 2022, by Sarah Kocher) — 4-H has been around for over a century. However, many people still have questions about what the organization does and options for involvement.

This article provides answers to frequently asked questions about 4-H.

(Photo courtesy of National 4-H Council): Gardening is a 4-H project that can be done individually, and 4-H has resources to support youth with their project.

What is 4-H?

4–H is an educational program for youth ages 5-18. Its approach to youth development is through hands-on learning. The four H’s stand for Head, Heart, Hands, and Health.

An 8-year study by Tufts University involving 42 states showed 4-H members were four times more likely to make contributions to their communities, two times more likely to make healthier choices and two times more likely to participate in science, engineering and computer technology programs during out-of-school time compared to their peers.

How old do you have to be to join, and what is a Cloverbud?

Youth can join 4-H clubs when they are 5 years old on January 1 of the current year. They can stay involved until they are 19 years old on January 1. A child’s age as of January 1 is sometimes called their “4-H age.”

Cloverbuds are youth ages 5-7. Cloverbuds can participate in a variety of programs, but do not participate in peer-to-peer competition in 4-H.

Caldwell County has a brand new 4-H Club specifically for Cloverbuds to connect with one another and have fun learning together! It meets on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month at 6 p.m., so its next meeting is January 12. Its meeting location is the Caldwell County Meeting Rooms, below the library in Lenoir.

Cooking 4-H Club leaders for 2022 Debra Woods, Wendy Smith and Lori Joplin smile at Holiday Crafts on December 10. Volunteers find working with clubs rewarding because of the teaching and relationship building they are able to facilitate for youth.

Does it cost to join 4-H?

Enrollment in 4-H is free and can be completed through 4-H Online at v2.4honline.com. The system is currently rolling over at the end of the calendar year, so families are highly encouraged to wait until January 12 to complete enrollment for 2023.

All seven 4-H Clubs in Caldwell County are also free to join, meaning they have no membership dues at this time. This is largely in part to Caldwell County 4-H’s status as a United Way member agency.

Funds from United Way are used to purchase educational supplies and equipment for club programs. They also support volunteer training expenses, such as state training for shooting sports instructors.

Occasionally, 4-H Clubs also do fundraisers for projects they are working on or to have scholarship funds available for members wanting to participate in district or state level 4-H events. Caldwell County 4-H also provides scholarships for programs like 4-H camp.

For individual projects, each family will determine what projects their child selects, and the cost for projects varies. For example, the costs would be very different if a child selects a livestock project versus a woodworking, cooking or photography project.

Two campers cross the finish line in a relay race during 4-H camp in August 2022. Caldwell County 4-H has camping spots available for 2023 to a fur, fish and game camp July 16-21. It is for youth ages 11-16, and traditional 4-H camp is for youth ages 8-14.

How can I get my kids involved in 4-H?

There are several ways to get involved in 4-H. One is through 4-H Clubs. Another is participating in short-term programs, like Summer Exploring or the teen leadership program called Junior Leaders. Youth can also attend 4-H residential camp for a week during the summer.

Clubs are groups of 4-H members and their families, who come together to learn about one specified project area, or a variety of topics based on members’ interests. They also meet to conduct business meetings, participate in community service. Youth members can practice speaking or presenting to the group and socialize with others. There are leadership roles filled by youth in every club. 4-H Club members learn the importance of becoming engaged in our community, country, and world.

Current 4-H Clubs in Caldwell County include the Cloverbuds Club, Appalachian Aces, Baton Elementary Bear Paws, Saddle Club, Livestock Club, Circuit Breakers, and Cooking 4-H Club.

Families can contact Sarah Kocher, 4-H Youth Development Agent for Caldwell County, at sarah_kocher@ncsu.edu for additional information about clubs and other programs. The Caldwell County Cooperative Extension website, caldwell.ces.ncsu.edu, also lists upcoming events and current club information.

Members and leader Janie Rickman of the Baton Elementary Bear Paws 4-H Club helped with a holiday service project at Caldwell Opportunities on December 12. In addition to learning about specific topics such as cooking, livestock or coding, 4-H members are also taught life skills like citizenship, responsibility and community service.

What kind of volunteers does 4-H need?

4-H needs all kinds of volunteers, but some of the current volunteer roles on our “wish list” include supporting volunteers for the Circuit Breakers 4-H Club (STEM and electricity projects), a sewing machine technician to do maintenance on some machines which are owned by 4-H, and teen volunteers for the new Cloverbud 4-H Club. Again, there are many more opportunities to volunteer than just these examples.

All adult volunteers who work directly with youth in any unsupervised capacity (i.e., club leaders’ chaperones, field trip helpers, team coaches, etc.) are required to complete and pass a North Carolina State University background check. The North Carolina 4-H state office is housed at NC State.

Interested persons should contact Sarah Kocher at sarah_kocher@ncsu.edu or call 828-757-1258 to ask questions or get started.

How do I stay informed about 4-H opportunities?

To stay informed, families should read the 4-H email newsletter, which is distributed monthly. It contains reminders and details about upcoming programs. Contact Caldwell County 4-H at 828-757-1257 or sarah_kocher@ncsu.edu to have an email address added to the distribution list. Caldwell County 4-H posts some updates on Facebook as well.

Sarah Kocher is the 4-H Youth Development Agent with Caldwell County Cooperative Extension. The Caldwell County Cooperative Extension Center, 120 Hospital Ave. NE #1 in Lenoir, provides access to resources of N.C. State University and N.C. A&T State University through educational programs and publications.

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