University of Maryland Extension

4-H Frequently Asked Questions

If you don't know anything about 4-H, this is the place to be!

Click on the question you want to learn more about

What is 4-H?

Who may belong to 4-H? 

How can people become 4-H members?

Why do young people like 4-H?

What are 4-H clubs? 

What goes on at club meetings?

What are 4-H projects?

What are exhibits?

What other programs does 4-H offer?

Who manages the 4-H program?

How much does 4-H cost?

How can parents and other adults get involved?

How can teens volunteer?

What are the types of 4-H leaders?

Who can I contact to learn more about 4-H?

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What is 4-H?

4-H is a nation-wide hands-on youth development program, the largest in the United States with over 6.5 million members. Our purpose is to provide a supportive setting for all girls and boys to mature into competent, caring, and responsible people through volunteerism and the learning of valuable life skills. At its most basic level, 4-H is about belonging to one or more 4-H clubs and pursuing the projects and interests that you love, all while serving the community. 4-H’ers can explore many different areas of interest, like:

  • Art and music
  • Science and technology
  • Animals and agriculture
  • Communications
  • Healthy living
  • History and heritage
  • Citizenship
  • Community action and volunteering
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Who may belong to 4-H?

All boys and girls who are at least eight years of age and have not passed their eighteenth birthday by January 1st can join. A special 4-H Clover program is available to children from five through seven years old. 4-H is open to all young people regardless of where they live, what their backgrounds are, or what interests them. Click here to read the non-discrimination statement.

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How can people become 4-H members?

To sign up in Montgomery County, visit our Join 4-H! page.

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Why do young people like 4-H?

They meet new people with similar interests and form friendships while learning new things and having fun at meetings, social activities, camps, fairs, tours, and trips. They also have the opportunity to earn leadership experience, receive service learning credits, and win scholarships.

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What are 4-H clubs?

4-H clubs are the heart of the 4-H experience and are made up of five or more people between the ages of 8 and 18 who are guided by an adult leader. Most clubs, however, have between 15 and 30 members, and the largest have over 100. Clubs meet in places like schools, churches, and community centers on a continuing basis, meeting at least once a month and sometimes once a week, depending on the club.

A club may explore one area of interest or several, elects its own officers (president, treasurer, secretary, etc.), conducts its own business, and participates in community service projects. Each member also chooses one or more projects to work on.

Five or more youth, with an adult or two to help, may start a club for almost any area of interest, and a 4-H’er may join as many clubs as he or she wishes.

To find out more about how clubs work, click here.
To see our list of Montgomery County 4-H clubs, click here.

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What goes on at club meetings?

Club meetings usually last one and a half hours and can include the conducting of club business, working on members’ projects, special interest programs, and recreation or social activities. Sometimes a meeting may be devoted to a single topic or activity.

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What are 4-H projects?

4-H projects are challenging and practical courses of study centered on a specific area of interest and should be chosen by the 4-H’er based on their own interests. They usually last for a year. Since 4-H is a “learn by doing” program, members are expected to do their own project work—leaders, teen leaders, and parents should supervise and may explain or show how to do something, but 4-H’ers must be the ones to do it.

Hands-on experience is the most important aspect of a 4-H project. Making, growing, caring for, and observing are all involved in 4-H projects. Some projects may be worked on by several 4-H’ers instead of just one—performance arts are often more fun when done as a group, while sewing or raising animals will usually be done individually.

There is no limit to how many projects a 4-H member may be involved in, but it is recommended that first-year members choose one project to begin with.

There are numerous project areas available for 4-H’ers to pursue:

Human Science

  • Citizenship/Civic Education: community service learning, domestic/international exchange programs
  • Communications/Expressive arts: public speaking and communications, creative arts and crafts, cultural and graphic arts, photography
  • Consumer/Family Science: child development and care, clothing and textiles, consumer education and budgeting, fashion revue, home management
  • Healthy Lifestyles: Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), nutrition and food science, culinary arts, food safety, health, fitness leadership
  • Personal Development and leadership: career exploration, marketing, leadership, entrepreneurship

Environmental Science

  • Environmental Education/Earth Science: soil and water conservation, forestry, wildlife, resource conservation, energy management, entomology, beekeeping, marine biology/oceanography, shooting sports, outdoor education and camping
  • Plant Science/Agriculture: horticulture, agriculture, vegetable and flower gardening, plant and soil science, flower arranging
  • Science and Technology: aerospace, automotive, bicycles, computers, electricity, farm machinery, engineering, safety, small engines, wood science, robotics

Animal Science

  • Pets—Dog care and training, exotic birds, guide dogs, rabbits, other pets and small animals
  • Livestock—beef and dairy cattle, meat and dairy goats, horses, poultry, sheep, and swine

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What are exhibits?

An exhibit is a product or display designed to show something that a 4-H’er has accomplished. Ideally, it motivates members to learn, have fun, and take pride in a 4-H project. As well, exhibits are frequently designed to educate the viewer. An exhibit is not an end in itself. Self-recognition and self-satisfaction for having completed a project are important rewards, though 4-H’ers may also receive ribbons or other awards for an exhibit at places like the county or state fairs.

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What other programs does 4-H offer?

Besides clubs and projects, 4-H’ers participate in:

  • competitions,
  • demonstrations,
  • field trips,
  • camps,
  • leadership conferences,
  • fairs,
  • showmanship and judging,
  • fashion revues,
  • community service projects,
  • and other educational activities.

Teenage 4-H’ers can also volunteer to be junior leaders for younger members. Everything is designed to be fun and to give 4-H’ers many opportunities to learn and grow.

To see some of the county-wide and state wide activities we offer, click here.

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Who manages the 4-H program?

The Maryland 4-H program is conducted by University of Maryland Extension, which has local offices in each county. University of Maryland Extension (UME) is a statewide, non-formal education system within the college of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. University Extensions are located in every state in the nation. State 4-H programs also partner with the US Department of Agriculture and the National 4-H Council.

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How much does 4-H cost?

4-H costs are minimal. Club dues cost $10 per child, up to three children. Every child beyond three is free, so dues will never be more than $30 for an entire family. However, inability to pay dues will never be used to keep someone from joining 4-H. Some 4-H projects can be completed at little or no cost, although some project areas, such as livestock, will require extra money for supplies. 

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How can parents and other adults get involved?

Adults can help out by volunteering, and even by becoming 4-H leaders. 4-H staff at University of Maryland Extension conduct the 4-H program and provide support to leaders, members, and clubs, but it's the volunteers who are the backbone of 4-H. Volunteers go through an application and screening process and are then able to work with 4-H’ers in various capacities. Additionally, volunteers receive face-to face training and training materials from University of Maryland Extension.

To find out how to become an adult volunteer, click here.

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How can teens volunteer?

Teenage 4-H’ers can become teen leaders and work as partners with adult leaders to plan and carry out 4-H educational activities, especially for 4-H Clover members (ages 5 – 7).

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What are the types of 4-H leaders?

There are three general categories of leaders:

  • Organizational leaders provide overall guidance for the club, help it function smoothly, and maintain communication between volunteers, member families, and the county 4-H Office.
  • Project leaders work with members enrolled in specific projects or project areas, assisting 4-H’ers to plan and reach out their goals.
  • Activity leaders work with members in planning and carrying out specific activities for the club as a whole, like field trips, food drives, demonstrations, and social activities.

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Who can I contact to learn more about 4-H?

 Contact one of the Montgomery County 4-H faculty or staff members.

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The University of Maryland, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources programs are open to all and will not discriminate against anyone because of race, age, sex, color, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, religion, ancestry, or national origin, marital status, genetic information, political affiliation, or gender identity and expression.
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