Thank you for your interest in the Jefferson County 4-H Program. Please feel free to contact your 4-H Youth Specialist, Samantha Fomera, for additional information and resources on how to join 4-H, volunteer with 4-H, or support 4-H in Jefferson County.

Jefferson County 4-H Family Handbook

This family handbook is full of valuable information that will help in making your years in 4-H a bit easier. 4-H is a large youth organization with many abbreviations and a sometimes-complicated organizational structure. This handbook will aid in understanding 4-H and answering your questions or giving you the place to find the information.

4-H Family Handbook

4-H news and information

Families enrolled in 4-H Online will receive email newsletters about upcoming county events. We also use Facebook, GroupMe, and our website to help keep people informed. Each 4-H member and family are responsible for keeping current on 4-H activities, events, and deadlines. To get on the 4-H Youth News Blast email list, please contact your 4-H youth specialist or the MU Extension Office staff.

About 4-H

4-H mission statement

Engaging youth as valued, contributing members of their communities in partnership with caring adults.

4-H is the largest youth-serving organization in the world. Based on your age, you join as a 4-H Member or Clover Kid!

  • 4-H Members (ages 8-18) - Youth choose projects to work on in groups or individually, participate in service projects and social outings, and grow leadership & communication skills. Youth can participate competitively in competitions and fairs! Youth can also join the 4-H Council, become a club/council officer, and go to State events!
  • Clover Kids (ages 5-7) - engage in fun learning activities to build skills, explore interests, and build confidence, to prepare them for being a full 4-H Member. Clover Kids learn from their older 4-H peers!

In Missouri 4-H we believe in...

  • Clearer Thinking by promoting character, maintaining excellence, upholding the mission, and honoring programmatic traditions of 4-H.
  • Greater Loyalty by embracing diversity and inclusion while encouraging and supporting innovation and youth leadership.
  • Larger Service by encouraging meaningful, positive youth-adult partnerships, community service, and engagement.
  • Better Living by supporting youth to become healthy, respectful, and productive members of society.

What can youth do in 4-H?

4-H's mission is to help youth learn skills they can use for the rest of their lives - what we often refer to as life skills. We believe young people learn best by hands-on-learning or learning by doing. In 4-H, your youth will have many opportunities to be actively involved in learning. 4-H Clubs help young people:

  • make new friends
  • explore topics of interest (or SPARKS)
  • develop leadership skills
  • share what they learn with others
  • make connections to mentors, leaders, and potential employers

4-H uses positive youth development strategies

In 4-H, youth build skills and values, and use their skills, talents, and time in ways that make them feel confident and competent. 4-H Enrollment begins Oct. 1 for the 4-H Program Year! Enroll in 4-H Online today.

4-H clubs are open to ages 8 to 18. Clubs meet monthly for group activities and club business. Each club elects officers and has an approved adult leader who supervises club activities. Club members also enroll in projects in their areas of interest.

With projects on more than 75 topics, 4-H has something to interest every child. Here are just a few of the opportunities 4-H offers: geocaching, robotics, international exchanges, horsemanship, pets, starting a business, arts and crafts, raising animals, woodworking, photography and gardening.

Community Club (age 8-18)

Youth members typically have a wide variety of interests and choose projects to explore based on their own interests. While some project work may be done during club meetings, generally members work on their projects independently or with Project/SPIN clubs. During club meetings, members plan and participate in other learning activities, service projects, and social outings. Club activities provide opportunities for members to develop and grow their leadership and communication skills. Clubs elect officers and plan club programs.

Special Interest (SPIN) Club

Members share a common interest, such as robotics, animal science, or cooking. Some SPIN clubs are also called project clubs. During the club meetings a volunteer with expertise in the topic assists members as they participate in learning activities, develop new skills, and share what they learn with others. Members experience leadership opportunities as they assist other members in project work. Usually, SPIN clubs are short-term, maybe 6-8 weeks long. Others last throughout the year.

After-School Clubs

Members share a common school, such as Fox High School. These clubs meet after school varying from a short period of time to a full 4-H program year. With over 100 different project topic areas there can be multiple, grade specific focus on a single project. These clubs can elect officers and plan learning activities and service opportunities, as well as participate in the 4-H Council of Jefferson County.

What are "Projects?"

4-H Members select one or more topics to learn about throughout the program year. These may include learning how to cook, building a robot, or caring for the environment. These topics are referred to as members' "projects." Hundreds of projects are offered through 4-H and YOUTH pick the ones that most interest them. Often, youth work with a Project Leader OR with family support to complete them! When a youth completes a project with a Project Record to share their story, they can receive an award!

Learn more about Missouri 4-H Projects and Clover Kids.

Clover Kids introduces 5- to 7-year-olds to the 4-H experience. In Clover Kids, children learn how to get along with others, work in groups and explore their interests, while building self-confidence. Clover Kids do not enroll in projects or raise animals and do not participate in competitive events, contests or shows.

Clover Kids is the officially recognized 4-H program in Missouri for children under age 8. This project introduces 4-H to 5- to 7-year-olds. (Children must be 5 on or by December 31st of the program year.)

The program is designed to provide 5- to 7-year-olds a variety of activities led by an adult or older youth mentor/leader that will help them:

  • explore many different interests,
  • build self confidence,
  • practice communication skills,
  • get along and share with others, and
  • be part of a group.

Clover Kids attend meetings that center around fun learning activities. Some examples include pets, food/nutrition, science/space, puppets, music, magic, plants, arts and crafts, and much more!

Clover Kids Projects & Participation in County Events

Clover Kids register for Clover Kids in 4-H Online Enrollment and exhibit for participation. Clover Kids may enroll in certain projects geared for them. Clover Kids MAY NOT participate in large Animal projects (for example Horse, Beef or Goats) or shooting sports projects. Clover Kids may participate with small-animals (pets, rabbits, chicks, etc.).

Clover Kids do not participate in any competitive events, contests, or shows. 4-H Clover Kids do participate in all activities, fairs, and contests just like a regular 4-H member; however, they are not judged. Instead, Clover Kids receive ribbons and recognition for participating. This ensures we keep our programming developmentally appropriate and safe emotionally for our youth who are Clover Kids.

Clover Kids are allowed to exhibit up to three items made and can also include items made at home. This is an opportunity for the Clover Kids to get practice creating projects and demonstrating them at the fair like they will do once they're full 4-H members.

Joining 4-H is as easy as contacting your local extension office. A staff member will explain the enrollment process and membership dues. In addition to dues, some projects may require a small investment to get started, and there may be a fee for materials, trips or other activities.

Young people are welcome to join at any time. The 4-H program year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30. Certain activities may have participation deadlines.

How to Enroll?

The 4-H project year is from October 1 through September 30. Current members typically re-enroll in the fall. Membership is open year-round. Some projects have enrollment deadlines to exhibit.

Club members must be enrolled by April 1st of the program year to be eligible to participate in exhibiting projects as a 4-H member at the County Fair. Some project areas such as livestock and shooting sports have more specific deadlines for enrollment.

All enrollment is completed online via the 4-H Online web tool.

Go to 4-H Online

Cost to join 4-H

Each year, when members enroll in 4-H, they pay an enrollment fee to help cover the costs of the program. In Jefferson County, the cost to join 4-H is $30.00 per year. This includes $20.00 state dues, and $10.00 County Dues. The state dues include the fee for accident insurance for all members of 4-H including those in horsemanship. Some projects and activities have an additional cost.

The Jefferson County 4-H Council offers financial assistance to families that cannot afford to pay the dues. Also, several insurance companies pay for 4-H Membership for their members, a current list of companies is usually found with the enrollment information. If you or someone you know may be interested in these options, please contact the youth specialist.

How are Families involved in 4-H?

4-H Family Members are invited to participate in 4-H learning activities when possible. We can always use extra help during community service projects, when showing or exhibiting projects, planning club or county events, or just making 4-H fun for everyone! Others may pursue a deeper volunteer role.

Adult volunteers are essential to 4-H. Adult volunteers serve as club or project leaders, help with county or regional events, chair committees and organize fundraisers. You don't have to be a parent or grandparent of the 4-H member to get involved. All volunteers are screened for child abuse and neglect, as well criminal records, before they are accepted and each year thereafter. As a volunteer, University of Missouri Extension will provide you with training so you will be well-prepared and successful as an adult leader. The orientation includes information on 4-H history and the educational framework, the characteristics of age groups, character development and safety.


Missouri 4-H THRIVES because of our many volunteers have unique talents and are passionate about different things. The common thread is our love for helping youth grow! Please consider using your talents to keep our program thriving! Volunteer the amount of time that suites YOU!

Volunteering with 4-H

It takes a lot of adult volunteers to make the 4-H program work. We hope that you will consider volunteering to help your club. All 4-H volunteers: register to be a volunteer in 4-HOnline, go through the required 4-H Volunteer Orientation (usually 3 hours or less) and have their volunteer application approved. The application includes being screened for criminal background, and child abuse and neglect. Various training courses are offered online or face to face throughout the year.

Who becomes a 4-H Volunteer?

4-H leaders may be professionals employed by government extension services. They may be teachers in schools. Or volunteers in the community. Regardless of the type of 4-H leader you are, your role is critical to the 4-H movement and experience.

What are the responsibilities of 4-H Leaders?

Develop a caring relationship with members. Create a safe environment for 4-H members. Provide opportunities for youth to build skills Create opportunities for youth to value and practice service to others. Allow youth to make decisions and lead. Create an inclusive environment. Keep up-to-date and trained.

What Qualifications/Skills do 4-H Leaders Need?

  • Sincere interest in the safety and well-being of youth.
  • Desire to facilitate and motivate youth while nurturing self-esteem, decision-making skills, responsibility, and leadership.
  • Successfully passed the volunteer training process.
  • Ability to organize information and materials and delegate responsibility.
  • Ability to work and communicate effectively both verbally and written.
  • Desire to motivate parents and other volunteers
  • Interest in working in partnership with youth, other volunteers and professional staff in an educational setting.
  • Willingness to adopt the philosophy, policies, and procedures of your 4-H organization

Can I start a new club or project group?

YES! The purpose of a 4-H club is to provide positive youth development opportunities designed to meet the needs of young people to experience belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity. We want to be sure EVERYONE has access to 4-H, and we know many counties are rebuilding after the pandemic.

There ARE some stipulations to be sure the club meets our official Chartering guidelines for 4-H. 4-H has a unique federal-state-local partnership that has stood the test of over 100 years. Because of this, there is a process to start the club, ensure volunteers are certified, and everyone has what they need for a successful start! You DO NOT have to be an expert but be a willing and caring adult. Contact your Youth Specialist to get started!

4-H offers programming to students, ages 5-18, often free of charge or through a contract with the school district for a long-term endeavor. We want to be sure it is as accessible as possible to have quality positive youth development programming. Schools have the largest base of youth attendance with quality teachers, coaches, and mentors. Thus, we aim to partner with our educators and administrators to deliver programs that help you and our youth thrive. We have over 150 curriculums on file that can be checked out for usage by our educators and 4-H youth/families.

Topics available for short-term programming include:

  • On My Own, a financial literacy program
  • Leadership & Courage
  • Mental Health & Wellness
  • College & Career Readiness
  • Civic Engagement
  • Public Speaking
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Exploring the Environment
  • First-Aid
  • Global Education (diversity, cultural competence, etc.)
  • Staying Healthy
  • Emergency Preparedness
  • STEM Challenge (October)

These workshops can be whatever they need to be with the curriculum’s flexibility and school schedule/needs. However, these are generally best not assembly style for better positive youth development and interactive learning. This might be a 1-3h workshop or even a couple workshops.

Youth Futures is 4-H Missouri's College and Career Readiness Program (led by 4-H faculty). 4-H Missouri developed the curriculum, focusing on making sure youth know their options for college and career pathways. The original curriculum was designed with the intention of helping first-generation college students access and persist in college education. The curriculum has since expanded to incorporate all levels of diversity and incorporate careers which may not include college education, but maybe a form of certification. This requires six to eight sessions of approximately 45 minutes each time.

Topics covered include the student being able to answer the following questions:

  • Who am I? [personal interest inventories, self-awareness, strengths/aptitudes, etc.]
  • What are my options? [college types and majors, vocational schools, career exploration, job outlook, etc.]
  • How do I get there? [job applications and interview skills, college applications, academic preparation, etc.]
  • How do I pay for my life? [financial literacy, taxes, FASFA, scholarships, ACT Readiness, etc.]
  • How do I succeed? [study skills, mental wellness, communication etiquette, social media, family pressures, etc.]

For more information on 4-H programming available during or after school hours, please contact the 4-H Youth Specialist.

4-H Embryology Program, designed for grades 2-8, gives students the opportunity to learn the life cycle of chicks by hatching them in the classroom. Students will care for pre-incubated chickens by monitoring an incubator, maintaining optimal incubation stages and caring for the chicks after incubation— all during a two-week period.

This program is on a first-come, first-served basis, so be sure to register early to secure your spot in the program.

The learning objectives for students enrolled in this program are as follows:

  1. Provide educational information regarding embryology to local classrooms.
  2. Supplement and enrich ongoing studies in biology and physical science.
  3. Provide an opportunity to experience life cycles through recording and measuring hatches.
  4. Provide an opportunity to relate the development of the chick to the development of other living creatures.

$30 Base Program Fee

  • Covers a set of fertilized eggs
  • Delivery of eggs to your site (restricted to Jefferson County)
  • Training and support throughout the process

Add on components may include additional sets of eggs, bags of chick feed, incubator rentals, and curriculum guides.

Registration usually launches in November for the Spring Session(s). All registration is online, with the option to pay via credit card or via check/cash at the MU Extension Office.

Please see the event site for more details and to register:

Embryology Program

Recognition is available to 4-H members at all levels of involvement from project groups to our highest award, the Key Award. Recognition can occur during project meetings when a member is asked to demonstrate a skill they have mastered. It also occurs when older 4-H members compete for the chance to attend the National 4-H Congress or National 4-H Conference. Missouri 4-H's award program was developed using the National 4-H Recognition model.

Some 4-H members are encouraged by competition and enjoy the opportunity to compete with peers to determine the best project, performance, or achievement. Members should be reminded that in competition there are winners, but there are many more non-winners. Members should be prepared to accept the results of the judge's decision and encouraged to appreciate the valuable learning that took place before, during, and after the competition.

County 4-H Awards Volunteers & 4-H members are encouraged to nominate members that have demonstrated the 4-H spirit during their year as 4-H members. Awards are given by age level, including Outstanding 4-H Clover Kid of the Year, Outstanding 4-H Member of the Year, and Outstanding 4-H Rookie of the Year.

Jefferson County Member and Volunteer Awards nomination form

Jefferson County Achievement Program (JCAP) The Jefferson County Achievement Program (JCAP) is an opportunity for 4-H'ers to receive prizes and awards based on their intensity of involvement with 4-H. Items range from reciting the 4-H Pledge during a meeting to holding a State 4-H Council Office position, varying in points. This program also expands upon the 4-H Pledge by encouraging youth to be active in their community through service and leadership roles, competing in local events, and attending State opportunities. This form is due annually in September but should be referenced frequently during the year for opportunities to gain points!

Jefferson County Achievement Program Awards form

Volunteer 4-H Awards The Missouri 4-H Foundation recognizes the work of Missouri 4-H friends and volunteers through annual recognition and awards programs. In addition, the county recognizes one outstanding volunteer who continues to model the 4-H Pledge in action and excel in utilizing Positive Youth Development strategies in their work with youth.

4-H Project Record

Young people self-select projects and goals at the beginning of the project year and then reflect on the experience at the close of the year. The purpose is to help members learn to set goals, reflect on their experience and apply this experience to other parts of their life. These are scored & also receive awards based on quality of effort.

4-H Project Record

State Excellence Awards

Missouri 4-H recognition form levels 1, 2 and 3 are used as both progress toward personal goals and peer competition. Forms can be found on the Missouri 4-H website (type in Y2000, Y2100, or Y2200 in the search box above). The forms should be completed in full and returned to your 4-H staff in September.

Jefferson County Awards & Recognition Celebration

Traditionally, the year-end celebration for a full 4-H year takes place the following November. Sometimes, there is a dinner. Other times, there are door prizes and games. Regardless, the celebration is fun and full of acknowledgement for 4-H Clover Kids, Members, Volunteers, and the families and community partners who make 4-H happen in Jefferson County. For suggestions, contact your 4-H Council Members and Club Representatives.

Jefferson County Fair

The Jefferson County Fair, traditionally held the third weekend in July, allows youth to display their completed items they have made in projects. Members can exhibit items made, such as posters, photos, and other educational displays of skills learned, as well as livestock in partnership with the Jefferson County Cattlemen, usually including swine, goats, sheep, and steers. Exemplar projects may advance to the Missouri State Fair. Details release in June for State Fair registration.

See the Jefferson County Fair Book for more information, regarding dates of weigh-ins, livestock rules and regulations, and entry deadlines.

4-H Animal Project Record Book

Jefferson County Fair - Livestock Show & Auction Rules

4-H exhibit: a completed project, trained animal, or presentation prepared for evaluation or display at a county fair, contest, or competition.

4-H demonstration: a presentation for a 4-H member to show and explain how to do something; many counties have a public presentation contest for members to showcase what they learned in their project. Demonstrations may also occur within a Community Club or Project Group meeting.

Conference judging: 4-H members meet with a judge for a project evaluation; the judge asks questions about what the 4-H member learned while working on the project and gives feedback to the member. Conference Judging takes place before & during the fair week!

Serve the community. Be a mentor. LEAD.

4-H Junior Leaders meetings:

  • First Mondays, 6 to 7:30 p.m.
  • No meetings in January and September
  • MU Extension Office in Jefferson County

Want to become a Junior Leader?

Junior leaders register in a "Leadership Project" in 4-H Online & make a commitment to attend the monthly meetings to decide, plan, and lead county-wide events. Contact your 4-H Youth Specialist for more information & to get started.

Purpose of 4-H Junior Leaders:

  • encourage leadership in 4-H members
  • provide help and support to current 4-H adult volunteers and the 4-H program
  • promote leadership development as a valuable learning experience

What is a 4-H Junior Leader?

Junior leaders fall between the ages of 12 and 18, though the group is open to anyone with a 4-H age of 8 or older. They are members of both their local community club and Junior Leaders Club. Their focus in Junior Leaders is to build their leadership skills through various ways and in various places. Junior Leaders might work on their leadership skills specifically in their community club. They may take on additional responsibilities working with the adults and 4-H staff members, serve on committees or councils, help younger 4-H’ers in their project areas and complete community service-leadership activities.

Objectives of Junior Leaders Programming

For youth to…

  • Gain an understanding of the meaning of leadership
  • Participate in team building by working in groups and encouraging all members to participate
  • Develop responsibility and follow-through on tasks delegated
  • Improve written, verbal, and interpersonal communication skills
  • Gain confidence and self-respect
  • Practice and acquire leadership skills

Structure of Junior Leaders as a Project Club

Typically, the Junior Leaders program operates following a club structure with parliamentary procedures and an officer team making joint decisions with the adult Junior Leaders Advisor. This club functions county-wide, with its own financial account, and with a focus on developing leadership skills and towards a leadership project in its culmination. 4-H Junior Leaders are encouraged to actively participate in both their local 4-H community club in addition to the Junior Leaders, so they can demonstrate leadership skills.

Expectations of 4-H Junior Leaders:

  • Learn and practice leadership skills
  • Showcase your leadership skills by submitting an exhibit to the fair!
  • Develop a plan to teach, lead, and be fully responsible for a 4-H project or activity (ages 14+)
  • Participate both locally & at the county-wide level
  • Be a role-model for younger 4-H members & assist adult volunteers

Skills Gained through 4-H Junior Leaders:

  • Civic Engagement
  • Leadership Skills
  • Self-Perception
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Financial Literacy
  • Career Exploration
  • Event Planning
  • Advocacy
  • State & National 4-H Events
  • Scholarships & Resumes

Goals of Junior Leader Advisors

Relying on the principles of youth-led decision-making and positive youth development, advisors are 4-H Approved Volunteers who seek to help Junior Leaders engage in the development of leadership skills, from the basic self-awareness to the potential for a Junior Leader to lead an entire project to completion with younger/other 4-H’ers. Junior Leader Advisors should seek to equip youth with the resources and networks necessary for their development as strong leaders, as opposed to being their only resource


The purpose of Jefferson County’s 4-H Council shall be to guide, promote, and improve the county 4-H program and ensure equal opportunities & access for ALL youth in the county. Each 4-H Club should elect two youth representatives & one adult representative to become voting members for the 4-H Council!

Why serve on the 4-H Council?

  • YOU get to make decisions about what we do as 4-H!
  • Youth plan, coordinate, & manage county events & activities, like the fair, energizers, judging events, recognition night, & more!
  • 4-H Council members support the local clubs & project groups, providing leadership and guidance.
  • You manage and find funding needed for 4-H programs, scholarships, and events!

4-H Council meetings take place on the SECOND Monday of each month, 6:30p-8:00p. The meetings are held in-person at the MU Extension Office, with hybrid format when accommodations are necessary. For more information or the agenda, please contact the 4-H Youth Specialist or the MU Extension Office.

2023-24 4-H Council officers

  • President: Holle Ritter
  • Vice President: Josie Althoff
  • Secretary: Violet Hermann
  • Treasurer: Lucas Huskey
  • Adult Advisors to Exec. Team: Samantha Ellis & Ashley Crull

Each county is required to have a 4-H Expansion and Review Committee, as an expectation of the USDA. This committee’s function is to monitor and review the status of Civil Rights’ compliance with regard to the 4-H program and identify opportunities to expand the program to reach underserved audiences - such as youth of color, youth with disabilities, and youth in military families. This committee prepares recommendations, usually in the form of a SWOT analysis, which are to be acted on by the 4-H Council and MU Extension Council, as appropriate and reasonable.

Purpose of the E&R Committee

  • Review & identify communities where the 4-H program is not being extended.
  • Identify audiences not being reached by 4-H (gender, racial, geographically isolated, grade groups, abilities, etc.)
  • Determine needs of communities and audiences not being reached and make recommendations in how to reach them.
  • Help analyze and ensure balance in 4-H expansion, including attention to certain factors such as age, gender, rural/urban residence, disability status, minorities, and varied youth needs and interests.

Participation can take place via in-person meetings or online survey. For more information and meeting details, please contact the 4-H Youth Specialist or the MU Extension Office in Jefferson County.