4-H Club and Groups

Chartered 4-H Clubs

The University of Wisconsin – Madison Division of Extension grants 4-H Club Charters, which formally recognize a Club’s affiliation with 4-H, and grant that club the permission to use the 4-H Name and Emblem. 4-H Charter and Charter renewals provide documentation that a 4-H Club complies with state and federal laws and federal, university and state 4-H policies and guidelines.

4-H Charters must be renewed annually.

All 4-H Clubs must be chartered.

To be a 4-H Club in Wisconsin, the following requirements must be met and maintained:

  • Club name
  • Five or more youth from at least three families
  • Adult leadership that has been approved through the Youth Protection process
  • Youth involvement in leadership and decision-making*
  • Meet on a continuing basis**
  • Educational plan which meets the purposes of the 4-H program
  • Have written operating guidelines, bylaws or constitution approved by the members to govern the club
  • Open to any youth eligible for 4-H membership, regardless of race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, disability, ancestry, sexual orientation, pregnancy, marital or parental status.

*Youth involvement in leadership and decision making emphasizes that 4-H Clubs belong to the membership and the youth members should make the decisions. Adult leaders should not be making the decisions for the members. Many Clubs operate with officers, however they are not required.

**Continuing basis means that a 4-H Club intends to carry on as a functioning unit indefinitely. The Club may determine for itself the frequency and timing of its meetings. Clubs that don’t meet in the summer, or November – February are acceptable if they continue as a 4-H Club the next year. They don’t completely disband at the beginning of the summer. Rather they continue to exist with leadership and an identity and program again in the fall. Likewise, a school 4-H Club that meets every school year as the 5th grade class Club would also be acceptable, even though all the members change each year.

Failure of a 4-H Club to meet these requirements may result in the loss of the 4-H Charter and the use of the 4-H Name and Emblem.

Annual 4-H Charter renewal packets are due to the local Extension Office no later than November 1. Individual Counties may have an earlier deadline.

Leadership for 4-H Clubs is primarily provided by volunteers. A 4-H Club may have paid leadership when the individual provides leadership for the club as a function of their employment for another organization. Teen leadership does not meet the adult leadership requirement.

4-H Clubs must have an educational mission. Evidence can be provided in different ways. The preferred method is for clubs to develop a program plan with their members and provide a written copy of that plan to the members and the county Extension office through the annual 4-H Charter renewal process.

4-H Club written operating guidelines or by-laws need to include at minimum the following: the group’s purpose/mission; a statement of compliance with state and national 4-H policies and laws; the approved civil rights statements; information on how the group is organized and makes decisions; the required dissolution clause; and procedures of how finances are handled and audited.

All 4-H Clubs/Units/Groups must comply with federal and state nondiscrimination laws, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Chartered 4-H Groups

The University of Wisconsin – Madison Division of Extension grants 4-H Charters to units/groups/committees (Group), which formally recognize a Group’s affiliation with 4-H and grant that Group the permission to use the 4-H Name and Emblem. 4-H Charter and Charter renewals provide documentation that a 4-H Group complies with state and federal laws and federal, university and state 4-H policies and guidelines.

All Groups that handle finances and have a checkbook must be chartered.

To be a chartered 4-H Group in Wisconsin, the Group must complete the Charter Application.

4-H Charters must be renewed annually.

The following requirements must be met and maintained:

  • Unit/Group/Committee name
  • Adult leadership that has been approved through the Youth Protection process
  • Educational plan which meets the purposes of the 4-H program
  • Youth involvement in leadership and decision-making
  • Meet on a continuing basis
  • Have written operating guidelines, bylaws or constitution approved by the members to govern the unit/group/committee
  • Open to any youth eligible for 4-H membership, regardless of race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, disability, ancestry, sexual orientation, pregnancy, marital or parental status.

Failure of a 4-H Group to meet these requirements may result in the loss of the 4-H Charter and the use of the 4-H Name and Emblem.

Annual 4-H Charter renewal packets are due to the local Extension Office no later than November 1. Individual Counties may have an earlier deadline.

4-H Group written operating guidelines or by-laws need to include at minimum the following: the Group’s purpose/mission; a statement of compliance with state and national 4-H policies and laws; the approved civil rights statements; information on how the group is organized and makes decisions; the required dissolution clause; and procedures of how finances are handled and audited.

4-H Charter Applications

4-H Charter Application and 4-H Charter Annual Renewal documents are available on fillable PDF format and are located on the Charters page of the Wisconsin 4-H Volunteer website. Wisconsin 4-H Charter Annual Renewal packets are due to the local Extension Office by November 1st although local Extension staff can establish an earlier county deadline. New 4-H Charter Applications are due at the time of 4-H Club or Group formation. The 4-H Charter Renewal Year is November 1 through October 31.

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