Table of Contents - Additional Volunteer Guidelines B.2.
Enrolled 4-H leaders and advisors are considered an extension of the Cooperative Extension staff, and therefore University liability coverage extends to 4-H volunteers. This coverage is not accident or health coverage, but rather liability insurance to cover legal costs (which may include medical bills) in the event the leader and/or the University are sued for damages incurred during an approved 4-H activity. Approved 4-H activities must be open to 4-H members (even though only one member may be in attendance), have an educational component, and involve supervision of enrolled members by enrolled and certified 4-H volunteer leaders.
Accident insurance to cover the basic cost of medical treatment, such as an emergency room visit, stitches, x-rays, etc., resulting from an injury, is highly recommended. For special short-term 4-H events of a risky nature, such as 4-H horse shows or camps and 4-H shooting activities, clubs may require participating 4-H members to obtain a permission form signed by a parent or guardian, and enroll in “Special Event” accident insurance coverage with a reputable company.
Insurance brochures for reasonably priced one-year coverage and special events coverage are available from the county Extension office.
It is recommended that 4-H leaders
- carry their own health, accident, automobile and homeowner’s insurance;
- be sure each 4-H member is covered by family health and accident insurance;
- purchase additional low-cost, year-round accident insurance from a reputable company; and
- above all, emphasize, model and teach safety in all their 4-H activities.
The county 4‑H program should be designed to meet the educational needs of youth and their volunteer leaders. In many instances it is the task of 4-H leaders’ associations and 4-H advisory councils or committees to identify and meet these needs. The great variability in state and county 4‑H programs leads to diversity in the existence and structure of associations, councils and committees. Some counties have none while other counties have one or more. Because counties differ in their needs, their organizations will vary in size and approach. Each will tailor its procedures and activities to fit the county situation.
Although you will sometimes hear the terms “leaders’ association” and “advisory council or committee” used interchangeably, the descriptions below generalize their organizational function and are offered as guidelines.
4‑H Leaders’ Association – The county 4‑H leaders’ association gives volunteer leaders a voice and direct involvement in the county 4‑H program. It organizes and sponsors educational efforts for both leaders and 4‑H members. Leader association meetings provide forums in which volunteers exchange ideas, discuss mutual concerns and gain information about working with youth through 4‑H. Meetings are a time of learning, sharing, and fellowship. Any interested volunteer 4‑H leader may belong to the association, and all leaders are invited to attend association meetings.
4‑H leaders’ associations’ roles usually include:
- Identify training needs of 4-H volunteers.
- Help conduct leader training.
- Promote idea exchange and mutual support.
- Stimulate formation of committees to plan, conduct and evaluate county programs if a 4‑H advisory council does not exist.
- Cooperate with other 4‑H organizations such as the Pine Tree State 4‑H Foundation.
- Help explain 4‑H to the public.
- Help develop program resources.
- Recruit leaders into 4‑H programs and activities.
- Recognize and evaluate leader progress and accomplishments.
4‑H Advisory Council or Committee – The 4‑H advisory council or committee is generally a working group responsible for providing direction to the 4‑H program. Its membership should represent the community, including racial and ethnic minorities. A good mix would be to have one third of the membership be teenage youth, one third be from the 4‑H leaders’ association and one third be adults from outside of the leaders’ association.
Possible sources for council members outside of the 4‑H organization include:
- business or civic leaders, elected officials
- civic organizations
- youth groups and school student councils
- senior citizens
- former 4‑H members or volunteers
The general functions of a 4‑H advisory council or committee include the following tasks.
- Collect and assess information about youth and volunteer needs.
- Set long‑range and short‑range objectives for the 4‑H program.
- Help locate support needed to conduct educational programs.
- Maintain a relationship with the County Cooperative Extension Executive Committee.
- Conduct educational programs that are outside the function of the leaders’ association.
- Evaluate and report program results.
Successful 4-H advisory councils or committees generally adopt meeting procedures that are agreeable to members and helpful in conducting business. Selected procedures to help the council include:
- approach its job in an orderly way
- be responsible and responsive in its meetings
- keep an accurate account of its activities
- conduct relationships with other groups in a productive manner
4-H clubs should follow these guidelines, or develop other sound financial policies, to ensure the responsible use of 4-H funds and the 4-H name and emblem:
- The 4-H club treasury belongs to the 4-H club and should be used as a vehicle for members to learn responsible money management. Members make decisions about dues and how the funds are spent.
- All 4-H clubs should have a 4-H member as treasurer AND an adult volunteer as advisor to the treasurer. The adult advisor should be someone not in the treasurer’s immediate family.
- All 4-H clubs should keep accurate and detailed accounting of all club dues, income raised or donated, and all expenses. You can get a “4-H Treasurers Report” booklet from the Extension office for this purpose.
- The 4-H club should vote on all expenses that are over $25.00. The club secretary should record all votes.
- All funds raised in the name of 4-H through fundraising or dues must be spent on 4-H educational activities and events, or in the direct support of club educational activities. See 4-H Fund Raising in section B.1.12 of this manual for more details.
- All clubs should keep the treasury in a bank account. See the section on Tax Exempt Status of 4-H Organizations for information on setting up a bank account and applying for an Employer Identification Number for federal accounting. If the bank/credit union you select requires a letter to prove that you are connected with a non profit and are tax exempt please contact your county staff or staff liaison for documentation you can use.
- Books should begin on October 1 of each year.
- Any club that disbands must account to the Extension office for all funds raised and spent. This must be done within 60 days after the closing of the club.
- All clubs that disband must transfer any remaining funds, following an audit, to
- new leaders and members taking over the club, or
- a county- or state-based 4-H scholarship fund, or
- the Leaders’ Association in the respective county, or
- another 4-H club in the county, or
- the Pine Tree State 4-H Foundation, or
- some other appropriate 4-H entity.
- If a club divides into two or more separate clubs, club funds should be divided in proportion to the number of members from the original club who are now in each new club.
- Club treasurers or leaders should report any problems with the club’s finances to the Extension office or to the president or treasurer of the Leaders’ Association as soon as they are discovered.
- The treasurer and advisor should be made very aware of the financial guidelines or policies being used by the club. The Extension office provides training for treasurers, or for all officers. Call your county 4-H Youth Development educator or professional about setting up a meeting if you would like training for your club.
Club accounts should be audited annually, by two or three individuals not affiliated with the club. An audited report should be filed with the County 4-H Office.
If you or your members want to contact another 4-H club or program, for example, to answer a question or to invite their members to your club or county events, it’s a good idea to check with your county Extension office first. As you are aware, the leadership of clubs may change for a variety of reasons, and we can tell you who the current contact person is.
Occasionally, across the state, we have dismissed a 4-H volunteer for violating the “Standards of Behavior” that all 4-H volunteers and staff sign. It can be an embarrassment for all involved if one of these people is contacted when they are no longer “in good standing” as a 4-H volunteer. So please check in with the Extension office to make sure your contact person is a current 4-H volunteer.