University of California 4-H Youth Development Program
University of California 4-H Youth Development Program
University of California 4-H Youth Development Program
University of California
University of California 4-H Youth Development Program

Chapter 8: 4-H Volunteer Management Organization and Unit Management

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I. Introduction

The California 4-H Youth Development Program (4-H YDP) creates supportive environments utilizing experiential education for culturally diverse youth and adults to reach their fullest potential. County 4-H Volunteer Management Organizations (which in this Handbook include councils and all forms of volunteer management organizations) and all local 4-H units (which in this Handbook include all 4-H clubs and other delivery modes) support these efforts. Through these 4-H structures, adult volunteers, members and the 4-H YDP staff work together to extend the California 4-H YDP to the youth of the county, and to set and achieve the goals of the county 4-H YDP. 

II. 4-H Charter

A. Scope

Each 4-H Volunteer Management Organization (VMO) and unit is chartered by UC. Conferral of the 4-H Charter recognizes the group as an activity of the University, authorizes the group to use the 4-H name and emblem, and provides the group with tax exempt status. Procedures for applying for a 4-H charter are detailed in the Requesting 4-H Charter Process . Previously chartered and dissolved 4-H units that request to be re-chartered are to follow the steps in the Requesting 4-H Charter Process . Any organized 4-H VMO or unit that uses the 4-H name and emblem and handles 4-H funds must be chartered.

B. Charter Requirements

A 4-H unit shall apply and receive a 4-H Charter from the county UCCE office before it begins operating as a 4-H unit. See Request for 4-H Charter . A group requesting a 4-H charter must confirm the following to the UCCE county office:

  1. At least five (5) or more members from at least three (3) families who will enroll in the unit. 

  2. At least two (2) or more adults who intend to serve as 4-H Adult Volunteers in the unit.

  3. Constitution and bylaws or Operating Procedures, as applicable to the unit model. 

  4. An official unit or group name. See Naming 4-H Clubs, Units, Programs, Events, and Websites

C. Updating 4-H Charter Contact Information

In the event a chartered 4-H VMO or unit needs to update the contact information (e.g., contact name, phone number, address) that the State 4-H Office and IRS have on file from the original request for an EIN, the 4-H YDP staff will submit a Notification of 4-H VMO Unit Name Change Form to the State 4-H Office and submit the template letter, Changing Legal Name and Contact Information with IRS directly to the IRS. (Staff Use Only) *4-H units and VMOs that have been assigned the standard CA 4-H EIN# do NOT need to complete the template letter to IRS. For Management Boards changing names on bank accounts, and Management Boards updating IRS of EIN contact information, see Staff Resources.

D. Revocation and Dissolution of a Charter

  1. 4-H chartered units must follow all University of California 4-H YDP policies and guidelines and meet the minimum annual requirements as outlined in the 4-H Club Program Planning Guide . Failure to adhere to policies or meet minimum annual guidelines can result in the withdrawal of the 4-H Charter and disbanding of the 4-H VMO or unit. 

  2. With approval of the State 4-H Director and upon the request of the UCCE county director and/or solely at the discretion of the State 4-H YDP Director, a 4-H Charter may be revoked at any time. See Notification of 4-H Unit Dissolution Form. Staff also need to submit the template letter Updating IRS of a 4-H VMO/Unit Dissolution directly to IRS for if they haven't been assigned the standard CA 4-H EIN#. *4-H units and VMOs that have been assigned the standard CA 4-H EIN# do NOT need to complete the template letter to IRS.

E. Privileges Authorized by the 4-H Charter

The 4-H Charter authorizes the following privileges.

  1. The authority to use the 4-H name and emblem.

  2. Inclusion as a tax-exempt unit under the umbrella of the Regents of the University of California's 501(c)3 non-profit status.

  3. The authority to raise, allocate, and disburse funds in support of local 4-H programs, projects, and groups.

F. Relationships Authorized by the 4-H Charter

  1. Authorized Relationships

    In applying for and accepting a 4-H charter, the 4-H VMO/unit agrees to the following administrative relationships:

    1. The 4-H VMO or unit is an authorized organizational unit within the UC ANR 4-H YDP.

    2. Officers, adult volunteers and members of all 4-H VMOs and units are accountable for all funds generated by them in the name of 4-H.

    3. The 4-H VMOs and units agree to incorporate the diversity and affirmative action goals of UC ANR and to actively support and implement the outreach efforts of the 4-H YDP.

    4. The 4-H VMO and units are programmatically responsible to the 4-H YDP staff at the appropriate level and fiscally responsible to the county director or State 4-H YDP director, as appropriate, and the University of California.
  2. Oversight

    4-H YDP staff are responsible for the communication and implementation of these relationships to VMOs and units. Additionally, county directors oversee and are responsible for the 4-H units and VMOs in their respective county(ies). The State 4-H YDP Director has oversight and responsibility for the state 4-H VMO.

III. 4-H Volunteer Management Organizations (VMOs)

A. Authorization

Every county must have a chartered volunteer management organization (VMO) that is authorized through the 4-H Charter process to use the 4-H name and emblem and conduct the countywide 4-H YDP events and activities for educational purposes.

B. Purpose

4-H VMOs are organized to assist the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) in planning, promoting and carrying out 4-H youth development work. VMOs are chartered by the UCCE and operate in compliance with UC policies and the 4-H Vision and Mission of the 4-H YDP. Policy interpretations are made by 4-H YDP staff, the county director and the State 4-H Office, which are authorized under federal and state statutes to organize and administer the 4-H YDP in the State of California.

C. Operation

VMOs shall operate as tax exempt, nonpolitical, educational activities of the University of California in furtherance of 4-H youth development work in California.

D. Specific Purposes

The specific purposes for which the VMOs are organized shall be to:

  1. Oversee the management aspects of the 4-H YDP.

  2. Develop and coordinate educational programs, events activities and training that support and are consistent with the program, vision, plan, educational goals and standard as identified by the county and state 4-H YDP staff. 

  3. Help ensure that all county 4-H YDP programming is consistent with the 4-H Vision and Mission and Program Criteria Checklist .

  4. Build in mechanisms to achieve affirmative action goals and develop a management body whose membership is representative of the diversity of the community.

  5. Include involvement of 4-H adult volunteers and members in operations and decision-making.

  6. Set limitations on term length and succession of adult volunteers to distribute more service opportunities.

  7. Raise and account for all 4-H YDP funds in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles and UC ANR policies and procedures as set forth in chapter 9: Financial Management.

  8. Develop mechanisms to recommend solutions to problems and disputes within the county 4-H YDP. See County VMO Complaint Review Board Procedure .

  9. Facilitate mechanisms for providing training and support of adult volunteers and youth.

  10. Facilitate community involvement to contribute to program focus and direction.

  11. Facilitate the expansion of programs into new communities.

E. Constitution and Bylaws

All VMOs must have a constitution and bylaws approved by the county director, 4-H staff and State 4-H Director. The required constitution and bylaw language for councils can be found in the Constitution - County Council Template and Bylaws - County Council Template. The required constitution and bylaw language for Management Boards can be found in the County Management Board Bylaws Template and County Managment Board Constitution Template . VMOs and 4-H YDP staff should annually review the constitution and bylaws to assure they are current with county and state 4-H YDP policies and practices.

F. Revisions to VMO Bylaws and Constitution

Revisions to the VMO bylaws may only be made with approval of the county 4-H YDP staff and county director; and provided that they do not change the intent of the required sections of the State 4-H Office-issued templates, and that they follow the intent of the constitution. All revised VMO constitutions and bylaws are to be approved and filed with the State 4-H YDP Director.

G. Membership in VMOs

Membership, including voting membership is defined in the bylaws of the governing body. See Bylaws - County Council Template, or Bylaws - County Management Board Template.

IV. 4-H Units

A. Definition

A 4-H unit (e.g., club) is an organized group of at least five youth from three different families who meet regularly with two 4-H appointed adult volunteers with a planned program that is carried out through all or most of the year. 4-H units have elected officers and an approved constitution and bylaws to govern them. See 4-H Officer's Manual (2013), Club Business Meeting Agenda Guide , and 4-H Club Program Planning Guide for more information. 4-H units must annually meet the minimum requirements outlined in the 4-H Club Program Planning Guide. Failure to do so can result in the removal of the 4-H Charter and the dissolution of the 4-H unit.

B. Purpose

To stimulate members' personal growth and development. Help gain mastery and competence, enhanced independence and personal values. Provide learning experiences for members to practice and evaluate their growth. To help youth develop responsible citizenship. Learn democratic ways and group living skills through practice. Share in community service-learning and citizenship projects and activities. To develop effective leadership skills through youth and adult partnerships.

C. Charter

All 4-H units which intend to raise funds must be chartered to use the 4-H name and emblem, raise funds in the name of 4-H and carry out the 4-H YDP educational program. See 4-H Charters in this section.

D. Constitution and Bylaws

The required constitution and bylaw language for units can be found in the 4-H Community Club Constitution or 4-H Community Club Bylaws. Initial charter applications for 4-H units must be submitted to the county 4-H YDP staff and county director and approved by the statewide 4-H YDP director.

E. Revisions to 4-H Unit Bylaws & Constitutions

All county 4-H units must submit proposed revisions to the required constitution and bylaws language to the county 4-H YDP staff and county director for review and approval. All 4-H unit constitutions and bylaws must be on file at the county 4-H YDP office.      

F. Membership

  1. Membership is open to all youth who meet the California 4-H YDP membership requirements. See Chapter 5: 4-H Membership and Participation.

  2. A 4-H YDP club is an organized group of at least five (5) members from three (3) different families who meet regularly with two adult volunteers. See Chapter 4: 4-H Enrollment and Delivery Mode.

  3. For other delivery modes see Chapter 4: 4-H Enrollment and Delivery Mode.

V. Choosing a 4-H Unit Name

Each 4-H unit is a unique group of young people working together toward common goals. A 4-H YDP unit name should reflect the purpose(s) of the unit. As well, it will often relate to the project(s) the 4-H YDP unit participates in and/or the geographic area where members live and meet. See Naming 4-H Clubs, Units, Programs, Events and Website .

VI. Brown Act and 4-H Unit/VMO Meetings

The Ralph M. Brown Act (“Brown Act”), enacted in 1953, applies solely to California’s city and county government agencies, boards and councils. California 4-H YDP meetings are not open to the public and are not subject to the Brown Act. The only exception would be a meeting/activity to which the public was expressly invited, such as a membership drive.

VII. Meeting Participation

A. Parent, Guardians and Members of the Public

Members of the public and parents/guardians of 4-H members are only to attend those 4-H meetings that concern their program participation (for example, a meeting of the club in which the child is enrolled).

B. Meeting Behavior

Appropriate behavior at 4-H unit and county and state VMO meetings is mandatory, and adults are no exception. Irrelevant topics such as personal complaints do not need to be entertained.

C. Attendance Restrictions

Adult volunteers, parents and/or 4-H members that have been suspended and/or dismissed from the 4-H YDP may not attend 4-H events or visit 4-H venues.

VIII. Religious and Political Activities

A. Introduction

As an instrument of the state, UC, including 4-H YDP, must remain neutral on religious and political matters. UC and its units cannot sponsor or fund religious or political activities, except when authorized by The Regents, the president, or their designees. See 4-H and Religion FAQ .

Use of 4-H Name, Insignia, Seal or Address

The 4-H name, insignia, seal, or address of its office or units shall not be used for, or in connection with, religious or political purposes or activities, except as consistent with UC regulations.

Use of Individuals' Names

In correspondence, statements, or other material relating to religious or political activities or issues, the UC title of a faculty or staff member or the 4-H title of an adult volunteer shall be used only for identification; if such identification might reasonably be construed as implying the support, endorsement or opposition of UC with regard to any religious or political activity or issue, the identification shall be accompanied by an explicit statement that the individual is speaking for himself or herself and not as a UC representative.

Payment of Funds

In order to avoid the appearance of UC endorsement of a political candidate, the payment of UC-controlled funds is prohibited to individuals who, at the time a contract is made, have formally declared their intention to run for elective office. This prohibition covers contracting for payment of fees, honoraria, or travel expenses.

Prayer and Political Announcements

4-H YDP events and activities cannot include prayer or political announcements. See University Neutrality on Religious and Political Matters.

Supporting Documents & Forms

Word, PDF, and Other Documents

4-H Policy Documents Chapter 8

4-H Community Club Bylaws Template
4-H Community Club Constitution Template
4-H County Council Bylaws Template
4-H County Council Constitution Template

Links to Websites

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