Cloverbud policies & guidelines

The commitment of 4-H to experiential education (hands-on learning), supporting the development of life skills, and fostering citizenship is key to all of the work we do with children and youth. Policies that affect different age groups and settings will vary. Based on the needs, interests, and developmental tasks of children in grades K-2, the following policies and guidelines have been established.

Who may participate

The University of Minnesota Extension 4-H Cloverbud Program is designed specifically for youth in grades Kindergarten through second grade (K-2). Members enrolled as a Kindergartner must be 5 years of age as of September 1 of the current year.


Competitive activities are developmentally inappropriate for children within the K-2 grades and age range; thus Cloverbud programs emphasize cooperative rather than competitive experiences.  Children are encouraged to develop social skills through cooperative experiences with their peers.  They also are allowed the freedom of not having undue emphasis placed on the product of their efforts.  This is a time to experiment with new skills and experiences, not to strive for perfection.

Lastly and perhaps most importantly, children in this age group have only begun to deal with the concept of being less than the best.  Therefore, it is not appropriate for children in K-2 to participate in competitive situations.  However, it is very appropriate for a child to participate in noncompetitive 4-H activities and to be recognized for their participation.

Children as leaders

Children in grades K-2 are not normally ready for positional leadership. Electing officers can cause some children to feel left out. These children need a strong sense of belonging. In keeping with good parenting practices for this age group, children should be encouraged to explore possibilities and to make choices (as a group) between two or three options. Children can be encouraged to accept specific responsibilities for the group (taking turns bringing refreshments, calling other children to invite them to the activities, etc.), but adult leaders need to be ready to accept greater responsibility for the organization of the experiences than they would for older children and youth. The adult is still the center of the child’s experience.

Team leadership

It is strongly recommended that there always be at least two adult leaders, unrelated to each other, with a group of K-2 children. This is a personal safety precaution for both the children and the adults. A ratio of one responsible person to every six children is recommended.

Rules for participation

For the safety of K-2 participants, the following rules apply to cloverbud experiences. Parents/guardians/mentors are responsible for ensuring their “cloverbud” understands and follows the rules.  Extension 4-H staff members and designated volunteer(s) are positioned to intervene when rules are not followed and/or if safety becomes a concern for another reason. Definitions used in outlining the rules are noted at the end of the document.

1  A “responsible person is defined as a screened adult volunteer, youth leader 6th grade and older, parent or other adult who may appropriately assist with the group.

2 “At all times includes but is not limited to the following: during all portions of project workshops, club events, club meetings, public showcases which includes county fairs, demonstrations, or a community event where youth are representing 4-H with an animal or interacting with potentially dangerous equipment..  

3 “Control” means assuming responsibility for handling and/or leading the animal. The parent/responsible person must determine the cloverbud’s ability to control the animal. 


Becky Harrington, director of operations and systems,, 612-624-7974