University of Illinois Extension
University of Illinois Extension
Community Services - Planning Guide for 4-H Clubs

10 Steps Toward Performing a Successful Community Service Project

Community service can play an important role in 4-H Clubs. A community service project can take many forms depending on your club. Whatever is decided, the community as well as 4-H members benefit. Following are some hints in making your 4-H Club community service project both successful and fun.

A Planning Guide for 4-H Club Leaders


Determine what is needed in your community/county.

  • Ask club members and families.
  • Ask other community groups.
  • Talk with community officials.
  • Find out what types of projects have and have not been done in the recent past.
  • Ask the Extension staff.

Determine what types of activities your members have interest in and abilities to do.

  • Consider the size of your club and ages of members.
  • Consider the skills possessed by club members and their families.
  • Determine how much time your club would like to devote to community service activities. (Would members rather do a long-term, ongoing community service project or a short-term one-time activity?)
3. List all of the activities that have been suggested.
4. Ask your club to rank the activities in order of importance and interest, based on what was considered in steps 1 and 2. Reach consensus or use a vote by majority rule to determine the activity your club will do. If this isn't practical (especially if your club is large), consider forming a committee to develop priorities. Then, the club can simply accept or vote on the committee's recommendations.

After your club has decided upon their community service project, develop a plan. Your members will learn organizational skills in developing such a plan. A plan doesn't have to be overly detailed and formal, but should include the following:

• overall goal
• tasks involved
• time commitment
• permission
• budget
• insurance
• equipment and supplies
• risk management analysis
• volunteers and duties
• publicity
• evaluation

6. Carry out the project as planned!
7. Document your club's efforts with photos, videotape, or written notes.
8. As you work on this project, monitor the activities taking place and make adjustments as needed. Especially when the project has been completed, allow time for your club to discuss the successes and shortcomings of the project and ideas for improvement. This reinforces the learning experience.
9. Develop a summary report of your club's experience when the project has been completed. Share it with mass media representatives and the Extension staff. A scrapbook is a nice way to present the project's success. Include a written description, photos, and news clippings. Such activities might be assigned to the club reporter, secretary, vice-president, chair of the project or other club member.
10. Feel good about your club's contribution to the community and members' positive learning experience. Be sure to take time to process your club's experience. Do this by asking participants to share their thoughts and feelings as well as helping them to think about how they might relate this experience to other situations in the future. This is a part of the experiential learning process.

Other reminders

Remember that planning, conducting, and evaluating a community service project is a great opportunity for 4-H members to learn by doing. Therefore, do encourage members to get involved in all phases of the project, including planning. Don't do it all for them.

Remember that 4-Hers learn from their mistakes as well as their successes.

The role of the club leader and other adults working with the club is to guide members in the right direction and provide needed support and encouragement.

Make It Fun!

-- This fact sheet was adapted from materials by Keith G. Diem, Somerset County, New Jersey.

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