4-H How to Become an Adult Volunteer/Leader

4-H Youth Development Leaders are volunteers that are valued partners in working with youth! Volunteers help make 4-H possible. Wisconsin’s youth need your help “to make the best better.”

4-H Leaders work with Extension Youth Development professionals to develop the life skills of youth members, thus benefiting the state, employers, and the economy. 4-H Leaders not only have the satisfaction of contributing to the future of young people, they also learn new skills that may advance their careers.

Wisconsin 4-H has over 8,500 adult volunteers and 4,800 youth volunteers.   Volunteers are a major reason for Wisconsin 4-H’s ability to reach well over 69,000 youth throughout the state.

Apply to be a 4-H Adult Volunteer:

Are you an adult that is interested in becoming a 4-H leader? A 4-H leader is an approved volunteer who helps with programs in the county such as club, project, or other events.

There are currently six steps to becoming a 4-H leader (we are currently working on streamlining the process) :

A) Signing up on 4HOnline as a volunteer and agreeing to the Division-of-Extension-Volunteer-Behavior-Expectations-9.28.20. You will need to select a volunteer role and club. If you are not affiliated with a club, please select “undesignated club.”

Volunteer Roles:

  • Club Leader:  oversees club leadership, coordinates members, parents, and other leaders and serves as a liaison between the club and the county extension office.
  • Project Leader:  guides and supports 4-H members in project learning experiences (ex. Photography leader, horse and pony leader, foods and nutrition leader, etc…).  For more information, please see I’m a Project Leader, Now What Do I Do? (.pdf)
  • Club Project and/or Activity Leaders:  These leaders work with a small group of 4-H members within a club on a specific project or activity.
  • Youth Leaderolder youth who have taken on leadership roles in specific projects or the Youth Leader’s Organization. See more information about the Youth Leadership Organization Project.
  • Overnight Chaperone: a volunteer who supervises 4-H youth on overnight events such as Summer Camp or Educational Travel Experiences. Additional training of Supporting Youth Mental Health is required.

B) Background Check – After signing up on 4HOnline, you will receive an email from HireRight requesting you to submit information needed to perform a background check.

  • HireRight is the vendor chosen to do the criminal background checks for Extension employees and volunteers.
  • The background checks are done on a national and state level.
  • The subject line of the email should read “Action needed to complete background check for volunteering with Extension.”
  • Please check your junk email folder periodically.
  • Please be assured the HireRight website is a secure, encrypted site.
  • Please respond within 5 days to the request from HireRight.

C) Complete the Mandated Reporter Training under the trainings tab in your 4HOnline Profile and print the certificate once you have completed the training. Bring the certificate to the Volunteer in Preparation training (step D). There is this weird little quirk that if you don’t close out of the last screen it shows “Incomplete”.  As soon as you close that screen then it shows it completed in 4-H Online. All Wisconsin 4-H volunteers are required to immediately report any incident of child abuse or neglect to law enforcement or human services.  This training provides information on when and how to report.

D) Complete the Volunteer in Preparation (VIP) Training with an Extension staff member by signing up for one of the upcoming trainings or contact the Extension office to set up an alternative time. Watch for information in newsletters, email blasts, and on our Taylor County 4-H Facebook page for an upcoming 4-H VIP Training. Volunteers in Preparation (VIP) is an interactive training program that includes an overview of Extension, volunteer roles, and responsibilities, best practices when working with youth, and resources available to volunteers.

E) Complete the Title IX Training – scroll halfway down the page to where it says Start Training –  this one has to be manually entered by the state staff so there is a lag time of about a week between when you take it and when it shows up as completed in 4-H Online.  You only need to do sections 1 & 2 (NOT section 3). All Wisconsin 4-H volunteers are required to report incidents of sexual misconduct that take place in Extension programs and complete training on how to report concerns. The questions and answers contain more information about this requirement.

F) Complete the Building Safe spaces Training (scroll down to the green box “Click here to start training”. This training includes information about the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touch, prohibited behaviors (including sexual misconduct), best practices when working with youth, and reporting procedures. These modules are available in both English and Spanish.

G) Complete the Supporting Youth Mental Health Training (SYMH) – ONLY if you are planning to be an Overnight Adult Advisors/Chaperones. Adults who volunteer with young people, care about young people. One way to show we care is to give help and support when someone is feeling down. That’s what the Supporting Youth Mental Health for Volunteers Training—Supporting YMH, for short—is all about. Knowing how to support youth when they’re down, whether it’s simply a bad day or it’s more than that. SYMH Training is a two-part series of trainings.  There is an online self-paced portion and an in-person (or Zoom) portion.  The completions are manually marked complete after both sections have been completed.

Contact the Extension Office at 715-748-3327 x 3, email julie.diepenbrock@wisc.edu, or visit the Extension Office at 925 Donald St. Room 103, Medford, WI if you have further questions.

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