While the 4-H Club provides a wonderful small group learning environment for the positive development of young people, it is not the only way to become a 4-H member. Independent membership is another option. Independent 4-H members participate in planned learning outside of a club setting. Their work is self-directed with guidance and support of parents and mentors. Self-study, home study, mentoring or shadowing with an “expert,” and whole families learning together are examples of 4-H independent membership.
Independent membership provides youth in grades 4-12 an entry point into the 4-H program that has not been previously available.
Just as the 8 essential elements of positive youth development provide the foundation for a quality 4-H Club experience, they are central to the 4-H independent membership experience as well. To ensure that young people choosing independent membership have a 4-H experience of the highest quality they are asked to sign an agreement indicating their commitment to:
- Identify an adult mentor to guide and support them in their 4-H project work. The individual chosen, other than a parent, must complete the official IA 4-H Child Protection and Safety Screening Process. All mentors must agree to the roles and responsibilities outlined in the 4-H mentor position description and attend training. We encourage the mentor be someone other than a parent or guardian.*
- Develop skills in leadership, citizenship, communications, personal life management and knowledge through project work.
- Complete one or more community service learning project during the year.
- Demonstrate their learning by giving a presentation or demonstration before a group (nursing homes, a 4-H club, church groups, afterschool programs).
- Reflect on their learning by recording goals and submitting to their mentor a year end report using record-keeping skills.
- Share with their designated mentor six or more times throughout the year progress on goals and celebrate accomplishments.
- Abide by all county, state and national 4-H policies and recognize the authority of Extension staff to establish and enforce rules and policies.
- Contribute to the larger 4-H program by participating in county and state fundraising efforts; volunteering to lead or assist with 4-H committees, programs and activities; reading and responding to extension office correspondence; and remaining informed and current on 4-H opportunities, procedures and guidelines.
Prometo usar mi mente para pensar con más claridad,
mi corazón para ser más leal,
mis manos para ser más servicial,
mi salud para cuidarme más,
por mi club, mi comunidad, mi país y mi mundo.