Affirmative Action and Civil Rights

Diversity means differences among people with respect to age, class, ethnicity, gender, physical and mental ability, race, sexual orientation, spiritual practice and other human differences. Diversity in Wisconsin 4-H is a goal and a source of strength for the University of Wisconsin Division of Extension. While nondiscrimination, equal opportunity and affirmative action in personnel practices and program delivery have a basis in legal mandates, valuing diversity is a broader concept evolving from these principles. Valuing diversity is a societal and organizational advantage. University of Wisconsin – Madison Division of Extension and Wisconsin 4-H will continue its efforts to achieve diversity in its workforce, volunteers and among the youth members and to foster an environment in which diversity is understood and valued.


As a program of the University of Wisconsin – Madison Division of Extension, Wisconsin 4-H must ensure that its policies and procedures open doors and create opportunities for all youth. Affirmative action/nondiscrimination requires special efforts on the part of 4-H staff, volunteers and youth participants to achieve this goal. The success of the affirmative action/nondiscrimination program is dependent upon sensitizing 4-H staff, adult volunteers and youth to physical, emotional and cultural differences and making sure that staff, volunteers and youth interpret policies and procedures in a way that reduces barriers to participation and access to 4-H activities. The goal is to ensure that youth that are disabled and/or underrepresented and their families feel welcome, safe, included, and valued.

University of Wisconsin-Madison Nondiscrimination Statement

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is committed to providing equal opportunity and equal access in compliance with all applicable federal and state laws and regulations and University of Wisconsin System and university non-discrimination policies and procedures, including but not limited to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin*, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability, and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of age.
* national origin includes considerations of a person’s language.

Expansion and Review

A positive action plan is required to ensure access and expansion of all Wisconsin 4-H programming; members of 4-H should reflect the diversity of gender, ethnicity, and ability within the county and include representatives from protected audiences, geographic areas of the county, and participants in existing programs. The plan requires that each county must make efforts related to Expansion and Review. This plan must be reviewed and updated annually.

4-H Members and 4-H Volunteers with Disabilities

Wisconsin 4-H programs and activities must be designed to meet the needs of and to be accessible to all participants without discrimination. Reasonable accommodations must be made to allow members and adult volunteers with disabilities to participate. 4-H staff must review and, if reasonable and appropriate, adjust program teaching methods, subject matter content, and meeting places and times to assure accessibility of programs.

Wisconsin 4-H is federally mandated under the Americans with Disabilities Act to ensure that all programs are accessible to persons with disabilities. Based on U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines for the implementation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Wisconsin 4-H has developed guidelines for conducting all 4-H programs and activities at the local and statewide level. 4-H staff are responsible for implementing these guidelines.

4-H staff and 4-H volunteers may not exclude any person from any program or activity based on a disability.

  • 4-H staff and 4-H volunteers should consider the needs of such persons in determining the services to be provided under the program or activity. All efforts are to be made to encourage and provide reasonable accommodations for youth with disabilities in 4-H programs and activities.
  • For programs and activities held in publicly owned facilities outside of Extension, 4-H staff and 4-H volunteers should select accessible facilities wherever possible.
  • For programs and activities held at privately-owned facilities such as homes and farm buildings, 4-H staff and 4-H volunteers should select accessible facilities whenever disabled persons requiring such accessibility are participating, have expressed an interest in participating or are likely to participate.
  • If accessible facilities are unavailable, 4-H staff and 4-H volunteers should use other methods to deliver program benefits to members who have a disability such as meeting in accessible locations, making home visits or communicating through writing, telephone calls, audiotapes or other available media.
  • While some activities such as field trips cannot be held at sites accessible to those with disabilities, efforts to provide reasonable accommodation on site should be explored first, then alternatives could be explored.

Upon request and when reasonable, 4-H staff will make program materials accessible to a member that is disabled if that member has indicated a desire to participate. For example, materials could be made available through means such as Braille, audiotapes, readers, large-print formats, simplified versions, written scripts or sign-language interpreters. However, if there is a pre-recorded video that is being shared publicly, the expectation is that material is accessible and captioned.

All 4-H publications, meeting flyers, newsletters and other materials should advertise that the county offices and meeting sites are accessible to individuals in wheelchairs, if in fact they actually are; they should also contain a statement informing individuals that if they require a disability accommodation to contact the county office and make their request. To indicate that the meeting location is accessible to wheelchairs, use the “wheelchair accessible” logo. When appropriate, other available accommodations should be specified.

Parents and Legal Guardians of 4-H Members

Since most 4-H members and 4-H participants are minors, decisions related to involvement are made by their parents/legal guardians. For this reason, this policy also extends to parents and legal guardians to allow them to make decisions on behalf of their child’s involvement. For example, some parents may be dominant in a language other than English. In accordance with Extension’s Language Access Policy, vital/critical information for program participation needs to be accessible for parents. Vital information can relate to any document with critical or sensitive information (notification, permission slip, waiver, etc.) that needs to be understood and/or signed by a parent/legal guardian. More information can be found at the Division of Extension’s Office of Access, Inclusion, and Compliance.

ADA Accommodation Requests

The Division of Extension is committed to creating an accessible, inclusive, and equitable experience for all program participants. In partnership with the McBurney Disability Resource Center at the UW-Madison campus, the division evaluates and responds to requests for disability accommodation(s) by following an interactive, confidential, and individualized process, in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Whether you are a participant, volunteer, parent or guardian, we invite you to learn more about disability, reasonable accommodations, and inclusive practices by contacting Heather Stelljes, Access Consultant for the Division of Extension, with any questions you may have. She can be reached at or call 608-265-6248.

Alternatively, you are welcome to complete the online Disability Accommodation Request Form (paper form available upon request). The online application will be submitted to Heather. You will then be contacted for a brief meeting to discuss your request. Once an accommodation is determined to be reasonable, it will be communicated with the you as well as the necessary 4-H Program Educator or program staff.

Private, Non-public Cooperating Groups

Wisconsin 4-H is not allowed to extend “significant educational assistance” to private, non-public groups that discriminate in their membership on the basis of race, color, sex, handicap, religion, age, sexual orientation or national origin. Significant educational assistance is defined as any involvement with a group beyond making an introductory presentation to the group about the 4-H program and its opportunities.

Wisconsin 4-H and Religion

As a program of the University of Wisconsin – Madison, Wisconsin 4-H prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, and marital or family status. As a result, 4-H programs are focused on education and must not advance a particular religion. Explicitly or implicitly requiring religion or religious practices as a condition for participation in 4-H club meetings creates a barrier for participation and is prohibited.

For more information, see the Wisconsin 4-H and Religion Tip Sheet.

Civil Rights (Discrimination) Complaints

Discrimination complaints are to be treated seriously. The University of Wisconsin – Madison has established procedures for processing clientele-related affirmative action/nondiscrimination complaints involving programs and services provided by Wisconsin 4-H. To learn more of file a complaint visit:

Office of Access, Inclusion, and Compliance

To address questions related to accommodations and civil rights compliance, all 4-H Educators have access to the Division of Extension’s Office of Access, Inclusion, and Compliance.

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