4-H Ontario

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is there a 4-H Pledge?Click to expand

The pledge is said at the beginning of every meeting or 4-H event. It encourages a balanced lifestyle (intellectual, emotional, physical, spiritual), and reminds participants to always aim to be a good friend, mentor, community member and citizen. The pledge encompasses the ideals and main goal of the 4-H program; developing well-rounded, responsible and independent youth.

‘I pledge
My Head to clearer thinking,
My Heart to greater loyalty,
My Hands to larger service,
My Health to better living,
for my Club, my community, and my country’

What’s the 4-H Motto?Click to expand

The key objective of the 4-H educational movement is learning through experience. This objective is encompassed in the 4-H Canada Motto - Learn To Do By Doing.

Members are always encouraged to better themselves through true participation at all levels of the 4-H program. As an informal education program, 4-H helps young people develop a variety of personal skills related to working with other people; skills related to projects of special interest to the members; and skills related to a young person developing into a responsible citizen. The 4-H motto applies directly to the development of these skills – it stipulates that a 4-H member learns skills by actually doing the activities related to those skills.

How did 4-H start in Ontario?Click to expand

The 4-H story in Canada actually begins in 1913 in Roland, Manitoba. However in Ontario, the first club was held in Waterloo, Ontario in 1915. 4-H was founded on the concept of teaching youth agricultural skills in a club atmosphere.   Within these first clubs, Members were guided through their project by a leader who supervised them and provided constructive feedback.  This is also when the concept of “Learn To Do By Doing” was born. 4-H in Ontario actually started as the “Boys’ and Girls’ Club” and was run by the Ministry of Agriculture. 

Who can join 4-H?Click to expand

4-H members must be between the ages of 9-21, as of December 31st of the previous year, to participate. Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age, as of December 31st of the previous year. Volunteers must also successfully complete the training and screening process.There are no geo status requirements (where you live), and you do not need to own an animal to participate in an animal / livestock club.

How much does it cost to be a Member?Click to expand

Annual membership fees for 4-H Ontario in 2017 are $85, which covers youth membership for the year. Some 4-H Associations charge an additional fee at the local level. Some clubs may also have a small fee to cover the materials used in that project. Please feel free to call our office at 1.877.410.6748 and we’ll connect you with the Membership Coordinator of your local Association for more specifics to the region. 

Do I need to live on a farm, or own an animal to join?Click to expand

Yes, you most certainly can! There are many different projects that 4-H members can take during their 4-H career, including food, craft, the outdoors, environment, sports, machinery, crops and livestock/animal projects. And many 4-H club leaders will help youth to find a project animal if they enroll in a project but don’t have their own livestock. Some livestock clubs even run without actual animals!

How do I join?Click to expand

The first step is filling out a basic information form here. We will then send your contact information to the Coordinator, Volunteer Support in your area. The Coordinator, Volunteer Support (a 4-H Ontario staff member) will then answer any questions, and put you in touch with the correct contact at your local 4-H Association. From there, they can help find the best place for you in the 4-H Ontario program!

What is a 4-H Club?Click to expand

Members and Volunteer Leaders come together to create a 4-H Club and learn about a selected topic through hands-on activities and mentorship.  4-H activities and Clubs are structured in a manner that develops leadership skills including public speaking, communication, decision making, parliamentary procedure, meeting management and networking while educating Members about the topic at hand.

For 4-H Members the Club is a safe environment that fosters personal growth and development. We practise and encourage team collaboration, peer-to-peer support and independent learning. Leaders guide Members through activities yet still provide them with the freedom to make their own mistakes and assist one another in the learning process.

Clubs are comprised of a minimum of six 4-H Members and two trained, screened Volunteers who act as Club Leaders. Members spend 12 hours exploring a topic during 4-H meetings. 4-H Members and Volunteers can belong to as many Clubs as they wish. Topics include cooking, woodworking, camping, building a healthy body image, drama, agricultural business management, photography and much more. The group works together to achieve a goal which is often reached or celebrated at the Achievement Program.

Where are Club meetings held?Click to expand

Each club is unique, and meeting locations are determined by the Club Leaders. 4-H Clubs can happen around a kitchen table, in a forest, a barn or at a community centre. What defines a 4-H Club is not where it happens but the people who belong to it.  If you have a group of six Members, and two trained and screened 4-H Volunteers, you have a 4-H Club.

What must a Member do to complete a Club project?Click to expand

To complete a project Members must:

  • Participate in at least 2/3 of his/her own Club meeting time;
  • Completing the project requirements to the satisfaction of the Club Leader(s); and
  • Take part in an Achievement Program. A Member will be allowed to participate in the Achievement Program only if he/she has participated in at least 2/3 of the meeting time of his/her own Club prior to the Achievement Program.

What is an Achievement Program?Click to expand

In addition to learning during meetings, Members also decide on, and participate in, a Club Achievement Program. They plan and execute their Achievement to “complete” the project. The goal of hosting an Achievement Program is to publicly celebrate the Club’s accomplishments. It’s a time for Members to share the knowledge and skills they have gained with others. The Achievement Program is also a great time to inform family, friends and the public about 4-H. Examples include: a community bake sale, showing a project animal at a fair, a camping trip, or hosting an art-a-thon.

Can I join two Clubs in different Associations?Click to expand

Yes. When you pay your membership fee you become a Member of 4-H Ontario and belong to a “home” Association. This association is where you will participate the majority of the time, however you can also belong to another Association, if you want to participate in a Club they are running. In some cases, Associations have additional fees when you join.

What is an "Association”?Click to expand

When you join 4-H Ontario you are connected to a group of 4-H’rs in your local area. In 4-H lingo these are called 4-H “Associations”. These Associations belong to the greater whole of 4-H Ontario and deliver the program at the local level. Think “local chapters” or “groups”. The majority of your 4-H experience will happen with your Association but everyone is a 4-H Ontario participant and receives the benefits of the provincial organization including insurance coverage, programming, resource development and Volunteer support.

For the purposes of the 4-H program, the province of Ontario is divided up into six geographical regions. These 6 Regions are then divided up into geographical Associations. This was done to help facilitate the 4-H program across the province more smoothly. Each Region has a 4-H staff member called a Coordinator, Volunteer Support whose role is to help Associations in that region work together and separately. Each Association and Region has an elected Board of Directors that run the 4-H program in that area.

4-H Regions and Associations

Why does each region and association have their own Board of Directors?Click to expand

Each Association has their own Board of Directors to administer the 4-H Ontario program locally. This ensures the Volunteers have a strong influence in their own program. However all Associations fall under the “umbrella” of 4-H Ontario. 4-H Volunteers from the Association Board of Directors, called "Association Repersentatives", step forward to be elected, and the winners of this election sit on the Ontario 4-H Council Board of Directors.  The Board works with 4-H Ontario’s Executive Director to develop the organization’s vision. The Executive Director then guides the 4-H Ontario staff to carry out this vision. This governance model allows the organization to be run by 4-H Volunteers. No Association or Regional Board can have policies or procedures in place that contradict those set by the Ontario 4-H Council.

What’s the difference between the "Council" and the "Foundation"?Click to expand

Based on a recommendation by the Ontario 4-H Leaders’ Committee in 1988, the Ontario 4-H Council was created to develop and implement provincial 4-H policies. At this time the Ontario 4-H Council worked with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food who delivered the program. The Ontario 4-H Foundation was started as a charity organization in 1998 to ensure the financial security of 4-H Ontario activities.  ‘Foundation Trustees’ volunteer to serve and share their expertise on fundraising, networking, financial management and assist staff with sponsorship and donations. The Ontario 4-H Foundation ensures a strong financial future for 4-H.

The Council develops the vision and policies that provide direction for the 4-H program in Ontario. The Ontario 4-H Foundation is the fundraising arm of the Ontario 4-H Council. Both the Ontario 4-H Foundation and the 4-H Ontario Staff report to the elected representatives of the Council.

Isn't 4-H government run?Click to expand

4-H Ontario became its own organization and a registered charity in 2000. At this time the Council fully took over operations and governance from the Ministry. A staff body was hired and policy work continued through the Ontario 4-H Council.  That means the organization is really only 12 years old. Government funding still makes up about half of what is needed to operate 4-H in Ontario.  Membership fees, fundraising, sponsorships and other initiatives by staff and the Ontario 4-H Foundation make up the other half.  The Ontario 4-H Council is now the sole governing body of the 4-H program in Ontario – that means 4-H Volunteers, are the Council.

With the 90th anniversary of 4-H in Ontario, in 2005, came a reflection on the governance model.  Clarification of voting processes was made to ensure strong policy creation.  The governance model allows the organization to be run by 4-H Volunteers. 4-H Volunteers step forward to be elected, and the winners of this election sit on the Ontario 4-H Council Board of Directors.  The Board works with 4-H Ontario’s Executive Director to develop the organization’s vision. The Executive Director then guides the 4-H Ontario staff to carry out this vision.

There are 22 staff who serve the entire province. That’s all 6000 Members, 1900 Volunteers and 6000 recorded Alumni (although estimates are closer to 400,000!).  4-H Ontario staff are dedicated, passionate people who have made a choice to work for a not-for-profit organization.  Ensuring every Member, Volunteer and Alumni have an experience based on the 4-H values, Head, Heart, Hands and Health, is what the staff support.

What’s the 4-H Grace?Click to expand

The 4-H Grace is traditionally sung before any 4-H meal. It is sung to tune of “Auld Lang Syne”, also known as the “New Years Song”.

We thank Thee Lord for blessings great
On this our own fair land
Teach us to serve Thee joyfully
With Head, Heart, Health and Hands

What is the 4-H Ontario Privacy Policy?Click to expand

4-H Ontario respects the privacy of our members, volunteers, donors, sponsors and stakeholders.  We are committed to ensuring that appropriate measures and safeguards are in place to protect specific information that is held for the purpose of the program.  We adhere to all legislative requirements with respect to privacy.   We do not rent, sell or trade mailing lists.  We understand that some of the information we hold on members, volunteers, donors, sponsors and stakeholders is private, which is why we collect personal information only for the following purposes:

  1. To establish and maintain a responsible relationship and provide ongoing service and support.
  2. To conduct the 4-H Ontario Volunteer Recruitment and Screening Process for those volunteers and staff who may find themselves in a position of trust with the membership of the organization.
  3. To develop, enhance, market or provide opportunities consistent with the program mandate.
  4. To maintain, manage and develop our programs and operations, through solicited feedback and support.
  5. To meet program requirements.

At all times we strive to keep personal information accurate and up-to-date for the purposes identified above.  Members, volunteers, donors, sponsors and stakeholders do have choices and can refuse or withdraw consent for us to keep and use information.  They may request that their name be removed from our various lists; they can refuse to provide personal information to us; and they may withdraw consent at any time.  In all cases this may limit 4-H Ontario’s ability to provide appropriate service and support to these individuals. 

If at any time you wish to be removed from any of our contact lists, simply contact us by phone at (519) 824-0101 ext. 470; toll free at 1-877-410-6748 ext. 470, fax at (519) 824-8759 or via our website at 4-HOntario.ca.  We will gladly accommodate your request.

For further information regarding our commitment to privacy please contact 4-H Ontario’s Privacy and Screening Officer at privacy@4-hontario.ca. For more information see our Policies Section – Document #5.14.

Is there a limit to how many 4-H projects I can take in a year?Click to expand

Not at all! You can take as many projects as you want each year, for one membership fee. Remember that some projects may have a small cost to cover materials etc, and that each project has its own requirements which must be met in order to complete the project to the leaders’ satisfaction—so plan your time accordingly!

My child was 8 years old on January 1, but will turn 9 soon. Can they join a 4-H dairy club after their birthday?Click to expand

Not this year, unfortunately. For all clubs and opportunities with 4-H Ontario, ages are determined based on age prior to January 1 of the current calendar year. For 2017, your child can join the Cloverbud program, for youth 6–8 years old, and in 2018 they will be able to join a dairy club—because they will have turned 9 years old prior to January 1.

I would like to have a project about a subject that is different from the ones offered by 4-H Ontario. Can we make a project about any topic?Click to expand

Quite possibly! There are a few steps that you have to go through before you can get approval for a project. Start with downloading Form 6.29, Proposed Project Outline from the 4-H Ontario website and complete it with what you think the project will look like. Next, submit the outline to your local association for them to review and approve by completing Form 6.28, the Approval Checklist for Local Associations. When that’s done and submitted, the project will be reviewed by 4-H Ontario. We’ll provide feedback and then the go-ahead for your project!  

I want to be a Youth Leader. What kind of training do I need?Click to expand

Training for Youth Leaders is required every two years and can be completed in a number of convenient ways. For more info click here.

Why must there be two Volunteers in good Standing per 4-H club?Click to expand

The safety of all youth and participants in the 4-H program is of the utmost importance. Having two volunteers in Good Standing for each club allows for the safety and protection of both these young people and the volunteers involved in 4-H programs.

What is a Clover Bud?Click to expand

The Cloverbud program is an opportunity for youth ages 6–8 to learn about all facets of 4-H Ontario projects. This exciting addition to 4-H Ontario is a hands-on, activity-based program that covers a wide variety of topics, including agriculture, food, crafts, lifeskills, environment and science. By participating in the Cloverbud program, participants are able to get a taste for the topics covered in 4-H projects while developing an understanding of 4-H values. 


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4-H Ontario Privacy Statement: 4-H Ontario respects the privacy of its members, volunteers, donors, sponsors, staff and stakeholders. We are committed to ensuring that appropriate measures and safeguards are in place to protect specific information that is held for the purpose of 4-H Ontario programs. We adhere to legislative requirements with respect to privacy. We do not rent, sell or trade mailing lists. If at any time you wish to be removed from any of our contact lists, simply contact us by phone at 519-856-0992, toll free at 1-877-410-6748, by fax at 519-856-0515 or via our website at www.4-H Ontario.ca. We will gladly accommodate your request. For further information regarding our commitment to privacy, please contact 4-H Ontario’s Privacy Officer at privacy@4-hontario.ca