What Is 4-H and How Do I Join?

4-H is the largest youth development organization in the country, with over six million youth participating across the country. The 4-H program was started in 1902 by A.B. Graham in Springfield, Ohio. Graham started clubs for youth so they could “learn by doing” which to this day is the 4-H slogan; youth learn by actively participating in educational experiences and projects. Today, the 4-H program is operated in every county in Ohio by Ohio State University Extension and has nearly 216,000 members participating across the state.

In Van Wert County and all across the country, 4-H’ers are still actively following the slogan of learn by doing to develop themselves into caring, contributing citizens and working to follow the 4-H motto of “To Make the Best Better.”

Who is involved in Van Wert County 4-H?

Van Wert County has over 500 active 4-H members and adults involved in 16 community clubs throughout the county. There are many dedicated adult volunteers who work to provide support for clubs, programs and activities. Community clubs participate in community service projects, clinics, field trips, social events, and fundraisers throughout the year. Other opportunities include project judging, 4-H Camp, state and national events, and exhibiting at the Van Wert County Fair.

Who can join 4-H and what will I do?

Youth who are age 5 and in Kindergarten as of Jan. 1, 2018, are eligible to join 4-H as a Cloverbud member. Cloverbuds participate in community clubs and non-competitive activities exploring a variety of fun, hands-on interest areas. Youth who are age 8 and in third grade as of Jan. 1 can join 4-H as project members. Project members participate in club activities, select 4-H projects that interest them, go through project judging, and can exhibit their projects at the Van Wert County Fair. Youth age out of 4-H the year they turn 19. Youth are eligible to join 4-H in the county they reside in, if you wish to join 4-H in a different county then where you reside, you should contact the Extension Office of the program you wish to join for more information on eligibility.

How do I join 4-H?

The first step in joining 4-H is to find a community club near your home or school. There are 16 community clubs throughout the county; experience 4-H with a friend and invite them to join with you. Contact the Van Wert County OSU Extension Office at 419-238-1214 today for help in locating the right club for you or visit us on the web at http://vanwert.osu.edu for more club information.

When should I sign up?

You can join 4-H at any time! But, join by the April 1, 2019 deadline to take advantage of all the opportunities throughout the year. First year families and members are given some extra time to get a club and get settled, so if you are still looking to join in 2019, it is NOT too late!

What are these projects I keep hearing about?

Members who are age 8 and in the third grade are considered project members and must enroll and complete a minimum of one project each year. There are over 200 4-H projects a member can choose from. Can’t find a project that interests you out of those 200? You can create your own personalized project by taking the self-determined project.

Projects cover a wide range of topic areas. Excluding livestock project, examples of popular projects include: photography, small engines, and natural resource projects such as fishing, foods, rockets, creative writing, and shooting sports such as archery.

Youth can discover all the projects available through the Ohio 4-H Family Guide. These are available through a community club or you can pick one up at the Van Wert County OSU Extension Office or online at www.ohio4h.org. Also, you can visit Project Central online at http://projectcentral.ohio4h.org to browse projects. Project Central allows you to filter projects by interest areas and skill levels. You can also read reviews from others who have taken the project.

Want to learn more?

The 4-H program is part of the Ohio State University Extension services. For more information on the 4-H program and how to get involved, contact the Van Wert County OSU Extension office at 419-238-1214. The office is located at 1055 S. Washington St. in Van Wert at the fairgrounds. You can also find more information on their website vanwert.osu.edu or follow Van Wert County 4-H on Facebook at facebook.com/vanwert4h.