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Cooperative Extension: 4-H


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5-8 Years Old - Cloverbud Policies

This policy has been created for the protection of our youth and our volunteers and staff.  The policy will help us make sure that our programs for our youngest members are safe and developmentally appropriate while offering guidance on the many ways that young 4-H members can participate.  This policy, which complies with the national Cloverbud policy, insures that volunteers who are following the policy will be covered by University liability coverage.  Volunteers acting outside the policy cannot be assured of this coverage.

Cloverbuds in clubs:

  • Cloverbud members may participate in multi-age clubs or in clubs that are limited to members 5 through 8 years old.  Counties and volunteers may decide what kinds of clubs they would like to offer.
  • No matter what the club format, 5 through 8 year old activities must meet the requirements of the Maine Cloverbud policy.
  • When 5 through 8 year old members enroll, their project area (on the back of the enrollment sheet) should always be listed as 60074 “Introduction to 4-H Projects” FD
  • Programs for Cloverbuds should consist of introductory level (“sampler”) activities that build skills in a variety of 4-H project areas. (Fact sheets with information and ideas about these activities will be available soon.)
  • When 5 through 8 year olds participate in multi-age club activities, activities should be modified or another activity substituted if the activity is inappropriate for the age group for safety, skill level, or attention span reasons.
  • In any setting, the adult: youth ratio for this age group should be 1:6.  Adults working with the youth should be VOLT trained or working under the direction of a VOLT trained volunteer.
  • While Cloverbuds may not hold elected club offices, they should have a chance to learn about club leadership roles.  Assigning short term officer roles by random drawing or rotation or shadowing older officers are ways for Cloverbuds to learn about club officer jobs.
  • Business meetings involving Cloverbuds should be brief and run by adults or older teens with the focus on learning about planning, decision-making and leadership skills.
  • Cloverbuds may not handle money.  They may be involved in club fundraising events with the direct supervision of an adult or older teen.  They may not go door to door to raise funds.

Cloverbud Activities:

  • The purpose of the 5 through 8 year old program is to introduce young 4-H members to the full range of 4-H project areas.  Cloverbud “sampler” activities let them learn a variety of topics and skills that provide immediate positive feedback.  Curriculum resources specifically for Cloverbuds will be available through your county office.
  • A Cloverbud activity focuses on developing a skill or concept related to a short term experience.  4-H project work, a long-term planned course of study in one subject area, is designed for 4-H members 9 and older. The skills Cloverbuds learn from their activities will prepare them for project work later.
  • The 5 through 8 year old years are the time to build habits and skills to safely participate in 4-H projects independently as older 4-H members. An adult or experienced older teen should provide direct one-on-one supervision of Cloverbuds who are using potentially harmful tools such as scissors, knives, needles, hammers, etc.  Cloverbuds may not independently operate power-driven equipment such as sewing machines, power drills, small engines, clippers, etc. By learning a progression of skills under careful supervision of an adult or experienced teen, Cloverbuds should begin to master the skills needed to use this equipment as an older 4-H member. Portions of activities requiring the use of items such as rotary cutters, hot glue guns, power tools, roto-tillers and other tools with high potential for injury should be carried out when Cloverbud members are not nearby.
  • Cloverbuds must use appropriate safety equipment such as helmets, life jackets, safety glasses, hard toed shoes, etc as required.
  • Cloverbuds should have the opportunity to be introduced to simple record keeping skills using an age appropriate method such as the Maine 4-H Cloverbuds Activity Record.

Cloverbuds and Animals

  • The national 4-H policy states that for safety and developmental reasons, 5 through 8 year olds may not have animal projects, but recognizes along with Maine 4-H that engaging 5 to 8 year olds in activities with animals builds long-term interest in working with animals.  Therefore, carefully structured, well supervised activities with animals are encouraged.
  • Cloverbud animal activities are designed to introduce 5 through 8 year olds to various kinds of animals and to develop safe basic care and handling skills. ( See “Cloverbuds and Animal Activities”  for more information.)
  • One-on-one supervision by an adult or experienced older teen who maintains ultimate control of the animal is required any time a 5 through 8 year old is working with any animal regardless of size.
  • The focus of Cloverbud animal activities is on learning through activities other than livestock showing such as clinics, skill-a-thons, and pairing up with older 4-H member “animal buddies”  to learn about the care and training of the animals.
  • Because Cloverbuds do not do projects, they do not have project animals and are not permitted to have Animal Approval Forms.

Cloverbuds and Fairs

  • While Cloverbuds may not participate as competitive exhibitors in any 4-H events, they are encouraged to participate in fairs and other county events on other ways.
  • Cloverbuds are encouraged to exhibit their activities in 4-H Exhibit Halls.  As exhibitors, they should receive a standard participation ribbon or other small token as designed or chosen by each county/fair.  Cloverbuds may not receive premiums. However, a small honorarium may be paid to the club or the member in an amount to be determined by each county/fair.
  • Although Cloverbud exhibits are not ranked or scored, it is important for the children to receive feedback on their exhibits.  They may participate in a “show and tell” activity about their exhibit or receive written feedback that includes positive encouragement and constructive suggestions for growth. (A fact sheet “Cloverbuds and Fair Participation” will be available.)
  • Each county/fair may determine how Cloverbud exhibits will be displayed, either in a separate area, within each club’s area, etc.
  • Cloverbuds may not show any animals competitively in 4-H classes at Maine fairs or other 4-H events.
    • 8 year old members may participate in a non-competitive “demonstration show” with one-on-one supervision with a rabbit, dog, poultry, kid goat or non-market, lamb, piglet, or small calf. (Volunteers should insure that the calf is small enough to be handled safely and controlled by the adult or older youth.
    • 5 through 7 year olds may participate in a clinic, skill-a-thon or other educational activity with one-on-one adult supervision with adults or older teens with at least 3 years experience maintaining primary control of the animal. This activity may occur in a show ring or other public area that is small enough to allow for good control of the animals being used.
    • Cloverbuds may receive standard participation ribbons or other identical tokens for participation in these events as determined by each county/fair. Premiums are not permitted.  A small honorarium in an amount to be determined by each county/fair may be provided to the club or the member in an amount to be determined by each county/fair, but this should not be comparable to premiums received by older youth showing in competitive 4-H shows.
  • Any Maine Agricultural Fair age participation rules more restrictive than those of this policy take precedence.

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Cooperative Extension: 4-H
103 Libby Hall
Orono, Maine 04469
Phone: 1.800.287.0274
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469
207.581.1110
A Member of the University of Maine System