March 1 is deadline to enroll in 4-H for 2021

By Melinda Ryan - Contributing columnist

The 4-H program empowers young people by providing age-appropriate learning experiences and opportunities to help youth grow and develop life-skills to their fullest potential. 4-H is open to all youth ages 5 and in Kindergarten to age 18. The number one reason we hear from youth of what they enjoy most about 4-H is “all the friends they make.” 4-H is a family-oriented program. Youth have the opportunity to meet others from around the county, state, nation, and world.

4-H offers two main types of programs that require membership: The Cloverbud Program and the Traditional Program. 4-H offers in-school programming as well, but you don’t have to be a member for in-school programming. Teachers just need to works with OSU Extension to set up those classroom programs.

The Cloverbud program is for ages 5 and in Kindergarten to age 8 and in the 2nd grade. Cloverbud projects are activity centered and led by a trained 4-H Advisor. Upon completion of the Cloverbuds’ project, they display them in a booth at the Champaign County Fair in August. Cloverbud members are recognized at a special ceremony at the county fair.

The traditional program is for youth 9 years old or the third grade and older. Traditional members select from over 200 projects found in the 4-H family guide. Visit for details. 4-H members can select one or multiple projects. There are two main types of projects, non-animal projects and animal projects.

The non-animal projects have a project book for members to complete along with their project. The books and projects are judged in July and the top winners move on to represent the county at the state fair. Judging consist of bringing your project in and having it looked and during a one-on-one interview with an adult judge. Judging is one of those life-skill experiences that build confidence in speaking and interview techniques. Once judging is complete, members receive awards and display their projects in a booth with their club at the Champaign County Fair.

For the animal projects, members purchase an animal, take care of it daily, then bring it to show at the Champaign County Fair. To compete at the fair, the members complete a skill-a-thon where they demonstrate the knowledge of their project, complete record books and an interview. Awards are given at the fair for the projects and top skill-a-thon winners receive awards and are recognized at the fair.

4-H offers many opportunities at the local, state, and national levels. On the local level, older members can join youth leadership groups in addition to their clubs. There are camping opportunities as a camper and a counselor. 4-H offers gold, bronze, and silver medals for accomplishing a variety of tasks. The way it works is the members get points for community service projects, holding an office in their club, attending a certain number of their club meetings. In all, there are 15+ ways to earn points to earn a medal.

Older members can apply for state awards, scholarships, and trips. There are international exchange programs with 5 different countries. These are on hold due to COVID, but will eventually open back up. There are state-wide science camps, sea camp, leadership camp and more.

To join 4-H, you need to complete an enrollment form. The member is responsible for the cost of their project and a $25 membership fee which includes a project book.

Champaign County has over 60 clubs in the county in which you could join. If you need assistance in finding a club, the OSU Extension Office will gladly assist.

For more information on Champaign County 4-H Program, visit or contact Jenni Nott, 4-H Program Assistant at 937-772-6017 or Melinda Ryan, 4-H Extension Educator at 937-772-6018. We look forward to having you join the Champaign County 4-H Family.

By Melinda Ryan

Contributing columnist

Melinda Ryan is the OSU Extension Educator.

Melinda Ryan is the OSU Extension Educator.