Volunteering with 4-H
The University of Minnesota is committed to providing a safe environment for minors participating in University-sponsored programs (including 4-H) that are held on or off University property, therefore all Minnesota 4-H volunteers must complete the safety of minors training in order to volunteer.
4-H is investing in its most valuable asset: Volunteers
4-H’s research-based, learn-by-doing model equips kids with skills such as problem solving, decision making and communicating -- essential for them to succeed in school, college, careers and communities. Volunteers have a role to play in 4-H clubs, after-school programs, community service, civic engagement and camping programs.
We will provide you with the training and resources you need to volunteer – you provide the passion for helping youth succeed!
4-H offers a number of training opportunities throughout the year where volunteers learn about leading clubs, projects and more.
The value of volunteering
In 2012, nearly 11,000 adult volunteers contributed more than 1 million hours of service (a value of $23 million!) to support the positive development of Minnesota's youth. Minnesota 4-H could not operate without their participation. Volunteers say they benefit from staying involved, too. There are many ways to volunteer, including short-term volunteering such as judging at the Minnesota State Fair or a county fair, or longer-term involvement such as leading a club. Learn more about volunteering by contacting your local Extension office.
Hear from a 4-H volunteer
"I get to see the growth of the kids"
Tom Pierson, Carver County volunteer and Pipestone County 4-H alumnus
Just as 4-H and its youth members benefit from the involvement of 4-H volunteers, volunteers benefit too! As a volunteer, you may be able to
- 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 new and current skills in teaching and in your area of interest
- Understand your community better and make a positive difference in it
There are many ways to volunteer, including short-term volunteering such as speaking at a club meeting or serving as a resource person or longer-term volunteering: such as leading a club. Learn more about local volunteer opportunities to volunteer by contacting your local Extension office.
Read a brief summary of what is needed for re-enrollment and new volunteers.
Thank you for your interest in volunteering with the Minnesota 4-H Youth Development Program. We are pleased that you are considering to join more than 14,000 talented 4-H volunteers from across the state who are helping youth reach their full potential through their involvement in 4-H. For assistance with the volunteer screening process, please review the instructional letter for details on the three steps to becoming a Minnesota 4-H volunteer:
- STEP A - Application: (MUST BE DONE FIRST) The adult volunteer screening application may also be completed electronically, printed, signed and mailed to the Extension office.
- STEP B - Background Check: (choose online OR print option below) Available online at The McDowell Agency, Inc. website. For assistance, see instructions for online entry
A paper copy of the background check release can be printed and mailed or faxed to The McDowell Agency, Inc. (fax number and address are on the form).
- STEP C - Volunteer Orientation: View the 45-minute 4-H volunteer orientation (which includes the University required Safety of Minors training) and submit a survey response, which will let staff know you have completed the orientation process.
Once you have completed all three steps of the screening process, you will be notified of your volunteer status by the regional Extension office and entered into 4HOnline as a screened volunteer.
Volunteer Code of Conduct
Our volunteers adhere to a strict code of conduct.
Each year, adults must let 4-H staff know if they intend to serve as volunteers for the coming year. This annual step ensures that you continue to receive 4-H emails and mailings.
Read a brief summary of what is needed for re-enrollment and new volunteers.
Currently screened volunteers
Are you already screened? There are two ways to enroll: online or paper.
The best way to re-enroll is online at 4HOnline.com. This method allows you to review the data we have on file for you and make any necessary changes.
The home page at 4HOnline.com. has instructions for getting started by clicking the “Quick Start” or “Detailed Instructions” links. These instructions include how to have your password sent to you if you forgot it from last year.
Review the data on all pages to be sure it is complete and accurate. Click the link for the Code of Conduct and check the box to acknowledge that you have read it. Other things to review are health information, emergency contacts, club, projects, and activities.
After reviewing the data, click the “Submit Enrollment” button. Your status will be “Pending.”
Regional staff will review your screening file and change your status to “Active” if everything is current, including the completion of the required Safety of Minors training. You will be notified if you are due for volunteer rescreening, which is currently done every 3 years.
If you don’t have internet access, you may complete a paper enrollment form and submit it to your county office. Regional staff will update your data in the 4HOnline database and review your screening file. If your screening is current, you will be made “Active” for the year. You will be notified if you are due for volunteer rescreening and if you receive a request for rescreening, you must respond in order to continue in your service with youth.
Training for volunteers
4-H offers a number of training opportunities throughout the year, including online, where volunteers learn about leading clubs, projects and more.
Adult volunteers are 4-H’s most valuable asset in delivering the youth-led, adult guided programs that support youth as they acquire the skills they need to learn and lead in their lives.
4-H has developed a statewide system of training and resources to equip adult volunteers with the skills, knowledge and resources to successfully guide Minnesota youth in their positive development. The comprehensive and multi-format system of training and support is provided to the thousands of volunteers who deliver 4-H youth development programs to young people across the state.
Check here periodically to learn about in-person training opportunities to help enhance your volunteer skills and knowledge throughout the year.
Training opportunities for continuing volunteers
Online training - now available!
4-H has developed a series of dynamic, interactive 30-minute online training modules help volunteers build their volunteer skills and knowledge from home. Learn more.
Fall volunteer training
Each fall, statewide volunteer training is offered at locations across the state, providing relevant and current training to all interested club volunteers. Training dates and locations are posted on the fall volunteer training page each year as fall approaches.
Training and events
The Center for Youth Development offers online courses, public symposia and regional conferences that bring the latest research in the field of youth development to youth workers in Minnesota. Learn more.
Tools 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
These tools have been specifically selected and designed to support 4-H clubs in Minnesota
- 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-specific pages, and can be accessed from our project selection guide.
- Project leader access to 4HOnline (user guide)
Mentor for independent 4-H member(s)
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 the county, you may be connected to a 4-H independent membership county volunteer coordinator (472 K PDF); 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. This selection of resources can help volunteers integrate principles of positive youth development with diversity and inclusion practices that 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 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.