National Collegiate 4-H

What is Collegiate 4-H?

Collegiate 4-H is an organization that provides its members with a sense of identity on campus, enriches their lives through group projects and recreation, and develops confidence and leadership skills. Collegiate 4-H is open to all secondary-education students who wish to support youth and the 4-H program. It is not necessary to have prior 4-H experience, only to have an interest in the 4-H ideals and in serving your community.

The “heart” of Collegiate 4-H centers around the individual clubs. Clubs work on their own campus and surrounding communities to help youth become strong leaders. Thus Collegiate 4-H members not only enrich their own lives, but improve the lives of the youth with whom they work. Clubs play an active role in the development of their members through social and educational activities, the betterment of their communities, and through a variety of service projects.


Collegiate 4-H is about volunteerism. The exciting component of this volunteerism is the potential leadership development dimension for 18-25 year olds. 

A second and vital dimension of Collegiate 4-H is the development of the individual. Your role as advisor is to enhance and coach young volunteers in finding recognition for self esteem enhancement, building friendship relationships, balancing Collegiate 4-H activities with academics, encouraging youth to reach leadership potential and the building of communication networks and skills. 

The question of "Why Collegiate 4-H" builds on the philosophy that each of us is in a continual process of "Becoming The Me I Want To Be," though striving, yet never fully arriving. Collegiate 4-H provides another dimension to life and an alternative to academic pursuits.

Collegiate 4-H is an extension of the 4-H movement, visible in most communities today. Participants should be viewed as yesterday’s 4-H members making the transition toward tomorrow’s 4-H young adult leadership. (Note, it is not necessary to have been a former 4-H’er to be an active Collegiate 4-H’er.) Within this structure, advisors should be sensitive to the volunteer career path most students undergo. The four stages of 4-H career path at college might be:

1.To Know

College youth work hard at feeling good about one’s self in a group setting; learning that to err is human; noting that the world about has lots of room for shy as well as bold personalities, and that everyone can make a difference in enhancing the lives of others. 

2.To Grow

Persons who know the basics, enjoy gaining new skills to increase effectiveness in group settings; noting that another collegiate member has skills you want to learn; learning that new techniques can enhance volunteer nurturing skills; and feeling the excitement of being in leadership positions to keep activities and actions growing. 

3.Believe and Practice

College youth enjoy becoming part of the group. These young adults decide to work collectively. Maybe it’s a food stand fund raiser, a community service blood mobile, a presentation clinic for younger 4-H’ers or judging at county and/or district shows in your subject area. 

4.   Advocates

There are members who have arrived at the top plateau of 4-H knowledge and skills, and feel a need to share some of the things they have learned. An advocate is one who believes 4-H made a difference in their life. They want everyone to "Seek and Find" other young persons to enroll in 4-H or they want adults to volunteer for similar kinds of growth experiences. 


Like any student organization, Collegiate 4-H can be a sanctioned and recognized campus club or group. A constitution, deemed acceptable by the campus activity organization outlines responsibilities, privileges, fund allocation, advisor selection and student organizational rights. Collegiate 4-H, as a campus unit organization, has the opportunity to become part of a regional level organization from which a national advisory board is selected. Check with your local campus activity programs office for legalities of a club like 4-H on your campus. Your State 4-H Office has an identified staff person assigned to facilitate Collegiate 4-H, thus sample constitutions are available.

Relationships to University Extension Service and the 4-H Program

4-H, depicting four letter H’s on a clover leaf, represent head, heart, hands and health. The 4-H Clover is an emblem that belongs to its parent federal agency, the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). 

4-H is delivered to local levels by the land grant institution and the 1890 colleges of each state through the Cooperative Extension Service (CES). Recent name changes in many states may result in titles of the informal educational arm from the University to be something other than Cooperative Extension Service. Effort should be made to keep open communications with your State 4-H Department in managing Collegiate  4-H linkages. 

Anyone using 4-H in an organization name is legally a part of the land grant system. Your State 4-H Director should be aware of your intent to use the 4-H emblem and will grant you permission once your request to initiate Collegiate 4-H is in writing. 

Goals of Collegiate 4-H

Typically, Collegiate 4-H has four goals. Simply stated these are: 

  1. Develop the person,
  2. Leadership skill development in group settings,  
  3. Service to 4-H, and
  4. Social interaction. 

Often young adults in college settings know the direction they want for their life, but lack the fine-tuning of skills to achieve the objective. Collegiate 4-H can provide vitally needed experiential learning. A well-planned program will be an enabling experience for positive self-concept, assertiveness and self-starting, commitment and follow through, communication, cooperation, peer acceptance, integrity, creative instincts and influence on peers. Leadership qualities and social skills develop as young adults assume responsibility to fulfill Collegiate 4-H programming.

Another goal of importance is the high priority placed on service to 4-H. Young adults who join Collegiate 4-H find themselves among a rather contagious philosophical environment that says "4-H has been a positive influence in my life and I’d like to help others see 4-H as a diversion for active young bodies and minds." Maintaining open communication channels with the State 4-H Department, provides opportunities of service to these young adults. Examples of this may be a foundation phone-a-thon, conducting 4-H training programs, or conducting statewide events.