Types of Membership in 4-H

What are 4-H Clubs?

Kids learn by doing, with positive adults and friends in a fun, safe setting. 4-H clubs are learning communities with a number of other youth, where everyone is involved in a collective effort of understanding. Truly successful and innovative 4-H clubs advance the collective knowledge of the community, via project areas, as a way to help individual members learn.

Youth can explore potential project areas and programs they may be interested in before joining. We consider our clubs to be our most sustainable and impactful approach to youth development.

Iowa 4-H offers two kinds of small group club experiences:

Three 4-H Clover kids standing with arms around each others shoulders.

Independent Membership

Another option to be part of Iowa 4-H is independent membership. These 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.

To ensure that young people choosing independent membership have a 4-H experience of the highest quality they are asked to sign a member agreement and identify an adult mentor to guide and support them in their 4-H project work. Independent 4-H members learn life skills in project areas that they choose, just like 4-H club members. Independent members also meet new friends through completing community service projects, giving presentations, and participating in organization-wide programs and activities.

4-H'er holding up fashion items with ribbons

What Can Families Expect?

4-H professionals, volunteers, and parents/guardians are most often the people who provide opportunities for 4-H members to learn by leading clubs and activities. In working with youth, families are in a very important position to help them grow into self-confident, caring, and contributing individuals.

4-H is offered in every county in Iowa, through your Iowa State University Extension and Outreach county office. Review commonly asked questions on our Join 4-H page or contact your county office for a list of 4-H opportunities in your area.

Three generations of family posing for a picture.