Volunteering with 4-H
Why volunteer with Minnesota 4-H?
4-H is unique
- Our methods are based on research
- We teach youth to learn-by-doing
- Volunteers receive training
- Youth learn how to solve problems, make decisions and communicate ideas
- We are the largest youth organization in Minnesota
Benefits of a volunteer
- Teach young people in an area of personal passion
- Feel pride in making a big impact in the lives of others -- both youth and adults
- Develop or refine your skills
- Understand your community better
- Make a positive difference
- Receive training
Ways to volunteer
- assist at an event
- teach a topic you enjoy
- lead a project or club
- judge at an event
- encourage youth leadership
- lead a club or project area
Two ways to get started
- Contact staff at your local Extension office to learn about local volunteering opportunities
- Give us your contact details and we'll call you back
How do I apply?
Who can volunteer?
We welcome adults and youth to volunteer with 4-H. Adults who wish to be a Minnesota 4-H volunteer need to apply; the steps are below. If you're a young person between Kindergarten and one year past high school, please sign up in 4-H to begin your volunteer experience.
BEFORE YOU START: Read our short guide
STEP A: Application Select one of the following options:
- Download an application to fill out, print and sign
- Print a PDF document
- Request a paper copy from 4-H staff (see link at bottom)
- Hennepin and Ramsey County application
- Solicitud de nuevos voluntarios 4-H
(Spanish volunteer application form)
- Codsiga Dadka Is Xilqaama ee 4-H
(Somali volunteer application form)
NOTE: An ORIGINAL INK SIGNATURE is legally required on all applications. Electronic signatures cannot be accepted.
STEP B: Background checkSelect one of the following options:
- Read our instructions, then submit online. You will be taken to the website for The McDowell Agency, our screening vendor.
- Print a Background Check Release that you can mail or fax (address and fax number on page 2)
- Request a paper copy from 4-H staff (see link at bottom)
STEP C: (See the) orientation
- Complete an online learning module
NOTE: this online learning module works best with a desktop/laptop computer or with an Android mobile device. (At this time, users with iPads will have variable results and the training is not available for iPhones.)
- Download and/or read a PDF version
- Request a DVD version of this training from your 4-H Program Coordinator.
IMPORTANT: Submit an orientation reporting form, which notifies staff that you have completed this step.
Renewing your volunteer service
NEW FOR 2017-2018:
Volunteers only need to renew once every 3 years.
2) Safety of Minors training
Things to Note:
- Emails or letters were sent to volunteers in September 2017 to let you know if you needed to renew or not.
- Enrollment opened September 16, 2017.
- Volunteers must have completed the 2 steps of renewal before serving.
Who needs to renew?
- Volunteers who took the Safety of Minors training PRIOR to the 2016-2017 program year, which was September 14, 2016 through September 13, 2017.
How do I know if I need to renew?
- Your status in 4HOnline is Inactive or Pending. Contact your county staff for questions or assistance.
What if I was a newly screened volunteer in 2016-2017?
- You were renewed automatically by Regional Support Staff.
- Your orientation included the Safety of Minors training.
- Your status in 4HOnline should be Active.
How do I renew?
- Follow the steps in this guide: Volunteer Renewal Guide
Safety of Minors training links
- Watch the video
(Note: If you don't see the video, please try a different browser. You should see the video BEFORE the survey questions that ask for your name, email, etc.)
- Read or download a PDF document and print a Safety of Minors Reporting Form
- Contact county staff to view a DVD of the training
What if I'm not screened?
- New volunteers need to complete the application process.
Follow this link and select the "Become a Volunteer" tab.
Volunteer training is offered on a variety of topics during the year. Volunteers are equipped with skills and knowledge to guide youth in their development.
These interactive videos are each about 30 minutes long. Take a course at a time and place that works best for you! See a list of online courses.
Fall volunteer training
Face-to-face training offered each fall at a number of locations across the state. See dates and locations.
- The Center for Youth Development brings the latest research through online courses, public symposia and regional conferences. See what's available.
- Statewide events view all 4-H events
- County and club events Go to county website to view.
Resources for volunteers
Minnesota 4-H is committed to providing you the tools you need to excel as a volunteer in these roles:
The 4-H Cloverbud volunteer leader guide has been designed specifically to support volunteers leading a program or club for Cloverbuds.
Leading a club
- Leading a club web page - includes the following:
- Club leader access to 4HOnline (user guide)
Project area volunteer
Our curriculum committees have chosen the best resources from Minnesota, other states, and national 4-H curricula. These are all available on the project pages, and can be accessed from our project selection guide.
- Project leader access to 4HOnline (user guide)
Mentors for independent 4-H members
These tools will answer questions you may have about this role.
These tools will guide your work with an independent member(s).
- Member agreement form
- Yearly progress form
- Enrollment information for independent members is on the "be a 4-H member" page
If there are several mentors in your county, you may be connected to an independent membership county volunteer coordinator. The local county Extension office will also serve as a resource to you.
We each have different experiences, backgrounds, values and beliefs that make us who we are. These resources can help volunteers integrate positive youth development with diversity and inclusion practices. Learn how these can be applied to the 4-H programs we serve.
The Extension Center for Youth Development conducts and shares out-of-school time research and evaluation. This is used to address important issues related to the field of youth development.
See all youth development research.
Awards and recognition
Health information for adult volunteers
Health information is required for individuals who travel out of county as a Minnesota 4-H volunteer. This information should be entered directly into the volunteer profile in 4HOnline. Information about logging in to 4HOnline can be found here. If accessing 4HOnline is not an option, the health information page of the volunteer re-enrollment form should be used.
Keeping youth safe: Risk management expectations for 4-H volunteers
Minnesota 4-H is committed to providing safe and healthy environments for youth and adults who participate in 4-H programs and activities. 4-H volunteers have a critical role in this!The tools and resources in this section will provide:
- The overall risk management policies and practices that can help volunteers to understand their role in managing risk.
- A program planning tool plan to assess risk before programs occur.
- A series of information sheets that provide additional risk management details.