Volunteering with 4-H
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. Our new volunteer training includes five 30-minute modules. Read more about online training.
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.
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 packet letter (updated 10/4/13) 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 (updated 9/19/13) 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 30-minute 4-H volunteer orientation 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, which can be found on the policies page.
Time to re-enroll!
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.
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 new 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. 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.
If you receive a request for rescreening, you must respond in order to continue in your service with youth.
NEW CODE OF CONDUCT: Must be acknowledged (online) or signed (paper). To review the policy, go to the policies page.
If you would like a brief summary of what is needed for re-enrollment and new volunteers click on this link.
Training for new and continuing 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.
New volunteer orientation
Orientation is part of the volunteer screening process and an excellent introduction to 4-H for new and prospective volunteers. You will learn how volunteers fit into the larger picture of 4-H and the University of Minnesota and review our philosophy, policies and procedures. More info.
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
Learn and participate with other 4-H volunteers in your community, statewide and throughout the 12-state north central region. Eight topics offered! check the topics being offered in a county near you.
Each fall, statewide volunteer training is offered at locations across the state. These offerings provide relevant and current training to all interested club volunteers. This year (2013-2014) volunteers can join other members in their community along with volunteers statewide and throughout the greater 12-state north central region to learn strategies to engage 4-H youth, use technology to connect with 4-H participants, find science in traditional 4-H projects, and more. Click for dates, locations and topics.
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.
The M4-HAVA is statewide organization that 4-H volunteers can join. This conference is a great place to meet other volunteers from around the state, develop new ideas, learn leadership fundamentals, learn about club development and participate in hands-on activities. Learn more.
- February 6-8, 2014 - Plymouth
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:
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.
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 (274 K PDF)
- 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.
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.
See all research about 4-H
You may be eligible to join the Minnesota 4-H Adult Volunteer Association.
Awards and recognition