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4-H School Enrichment: A Guide for 4-H Faculty and Staff

Tracy A. Tesdall

About 4-H School Enrichment

School Enrichment is a partnership between the University of Florida/IFAS Extension Service and a school district to provide educational content in various subject areas. Extension values its relationship with the schools and welcomes the opportunity to provide research-based curricula for classroom use.

A key goal of 4-H School Enrichment is also to expose youth to other 4-H experiences, such as the 4-H Club. Research shows that youth spending time in long-term, positive youth programs, such as 4-H, are less likely to become involved in high-risk behaviors, have higher school attendance and grades, better conflict management practices, and better work habits. 4-H School Enrichment can give youth and parents a picture of the benefits of a longer commitment to 4-H.

Definition of 4-H School Enrichment

The national definition of school enrichment is "groups of youth receiving a sequence of learning experiences in cooperation with school officials during school hours, to support the school curriculum. It involves direct teaching by Extension staff or trained volunteers, including teachers" (National 4-H School Enrichment Survey). School-aged youth receive a well-planned sequence of learning experiences during regular school hours. A series of lessons (minimum of six hours of educational content) broaden and/or supplement the regular curriculum. Extension personnel, trained volunteers, or the regular classroom teachers conduct lessons.


Figure 1. Alt. text description – Transparent image of 4-H'ers sharing academic project details with adult. Statement in foreground reads,
Figure 1.  Alt. text description – Transparent image of 4-H'ers sharing academic project details with adult. Statement in foreground reads, "4-H School Enrichment: A series of well-planned experiences – a minimum of six hours – during regular school hours. (Background image credits: USDA)


The success of School Enrichment depends on effective programming that meets the academic needs of youth and satisfies the current State of Florida standards (refer to The goal of 4-H School Enrichment is to provide educational programming to enrich and supplement the formal school curriculum. Students will be able to relate their academic preparation to real world experiences through this linkage to Extension and community educators. Extension provides research-based curricula and teaching methods within the context of school settings.

Benefits of 4-H School Enrichment

  1. Increases the capacity of schools by

    • providing teachers and students with trustworthy, balanced educational experiences supported by UF/IFAS and other land-grant university research;

    • delivering learning experiences using current theories on educational attainment (i.e., experiential learning cycles, active learning strategies, youth development best practices, etc.); and

    • offering students a way to extend their learning by offering afterschool time experiences with 4-H through clubs, summer residential and day camps, contest and events, and workshops.

  2. Increases the capacity of Extension to reach large numbers of youth, makes 4-H available to all youth, increases the public image of 4-H and can increase the support base for 4-H.

  3. Provides research-based curricula that are unbiased and evaluated for effectiveness by UF/IFAS Extension, other land-grant universities and/or a national jury of 4-H National Headquarters.

  4. Delivered through the Experiential Learning Model.

  5. Uses materials that are age appropriate.

  6. Helps children/youth develop life skills.

  7. Provides an opportunity to develop/extend a cooperative relationship between schools and Extension.

  8. Increases the capacity of Extension to reach large numbers of youth in the community, makes 4-H available to all youth, increases the public image of 4-H, and increases the support base for 4-H.

Procedures for Initiating School Enrichment Programs

A partnership with the schools extends the 4-H program to more youth through a unique delivery mode. School Enrichment may be a new experience for some Extension agents; therefore, this guide presents some strategies, both for developing a partnership with the schools, and for programming. Also, see the appendix, "Working with Schools" (Table 2), to familiarize yourself with many education definitions and the climate of education in Florida.


Get to Know Your School District

Before introducing yourself to a school principal on behalf of the 4-H program, do your homework by researching how many schools are in your county and where they are located. Go to the Florida Department of Education website and review the "District Data" (, which includes Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) scores and other assessment scores, so you can view the strengths of your school district and what their needs are. They also publish each school district's accountability report at This valuable information will help you market the value of incorporating 4-H School Enrichment in the classroom. In addition, determine if any of your 4-H volunteers or parents are currently teachers in the school district. They could be strong advocates for your program.


Steps for Initiating School Enrichment Programs

  1. Determine the person responsible for curriculum at the school. If you do not know, begin with the superin- tendent of schools. Large school districts usually have a curriculum director, education director, or specific staff for curriculum management and delivery; smaller districts may not. It is important to start at the top of the organizational structure: ask for the proper channel of communication and contact the specified person. In a large school district, curriculum staff may be responsible for specific grades and/or subject matter. Contact the appropriate representative based on the curriculum that you are capable of delivering (for example, grades K–3.)

  2. Identify yourself and the purpose of your call to the superintendent or administrator. Ask permission to contact the staff person in charge of curriculum manage- ment/delivery. Many school officials do not recommend contacting individual classroom teachers directly. Ar- range for a meeting to explain 4-H School Enrichment to the appropriate school official.

  3. Schools have local and state mandates to meet through their curriculum. 4-H curricula and methods should "enrich" the program of instruc- tion offered by the schools. The curriculum director or teachers can give Extension staff advice on how programs can be integrated as part of the established curriculum. The curriculum director or teachers can also suggest how to distribute the information to teachers.

  4. If the school district is interested, decide how to make the information available to teachers. Ask for guidance in determining the best approach. One good approach is for the Extension agent or other 4-H staff to present program offerings directly to staff. To obtain time during Fall's teacher in-service dates requires asking early (February or March of the preceding school year). Other alterna- tives include scheduling an optional in-service sometime during the year or distributing brochures with program descriptions to teachers.

  5. When contacting teachers, consider schedules for both the school day and the school calendar. Inquire about each school's "clock time." Principals may or may not be willing to share faculty-meeting times. Some school systems have faculty meetings by grade level (elementary, middle school, high school). Avoid busy times (such as report-card time and assessment testing periods) in the school calendar. The start of the second semester, when teachers are looking for some fresh ideas, may be a good time to make a presentation.

  6. Be creative in connecting teachers with 4-H Extension curricula. Provide information about the intended youth audience (i.e., grade level), but realize that creative teachers may wish to adopt and adapt the curriculum for other grades. The advantage of meeting with teachers is that it provides the opportunity to explain the process and instructional methods used by 4-H, such as experiential and inquiry learning approaches.

  7. Remember, immediately usable and highly adaptable programs are the most appealing. Usable means that the program does not require a lot of work on the teacher's part. Adaptable means that the program can have many uses in the classroom or learning center, including displays, science fairs, PowerPoint® presentations, web- sites, and individual or team projects.

Presenting School Enrichment to School Personnel

Initially, Extension agents need to present School Enrichment offerings to school personnel. Agents may wish to identify a volunteer school-enrichment coordinator as a part of their volunteer middle-management system.


Suggested Strategies for Gaining Acceptance in the Schools

  • Be sure teachers understand you are not asking them to add something extra to their already busy schedule.

  • Share that many of our curricula resources are correlated with current standards. Ask if there is a particular standard that we could help address with our curriculum.

  • 4-H Extension programming is offered to enrich what they are currently doing. Make this critical linkage by answering this question: "How does or can this material fit into the classroom curriculum?"

  • Enlist 4-H leaders/members or members of previous enrichment programs/special-interest groups to help with the presentation.

  • Gain support of one of the key teachers. Identify an enthusiastic teacher or contact person within the system that the other teachers can talk to.

  • Visit with interested teachers on a one-to-one basis.

  • Check to see if there are countywide teacher trainings where you might secure a table to promote your 4-H School Enrichment opportunities.

  • Use special events like career fairs, African or Hispanic heritage month, or reading events as a way to get into a new school to introduce the program.

  • Offer to do a sample program of 15–30 minutes rotating to all classes for an entire grade level. This provides an opportunity to show hands-on demonstrations using equipment a teacher may not have—examples include a black-light hand-washing demonstration or a seed- planting activity—then provide curriculum materials for the teacher to do additional lessons.

  • Share previous School Enrichment successes (either your own or those of other Extension agents).

Evaluate your presentation to teachers and school admin- istrators. Use a standard evaluation tool or devise a simple evaluation form specific to your presentation. If possible, try to get names and contact information of participants for future mailing lists.

Scheduling School Enrichment Programs

Scheduling School Enrichment programs can be handled in a variety of ways. Larger schools may have an office (volunteer services) to coordinate schedules for/with you. With smaller schools, make the schedule arrangements with individual teachers.

Consider the following when scheduling programs:

  1. Will the program be delivered to one large group of students or to individual classrooms? 4-H Staff need to be conscious of the time and travel to be invested.

  2. Will schools be charged for School Enrichment programs? In many cases, the programs can be offered without cost or at-cost to schools. Schools may wish to purchase individual student manuals, but 4-H staff should provide leader/teacher guides. Most materials for the delivery of School Enrichment programs can be loaned to teachers, volunteers, or instructors and those materials can then be reused.

  3. Reserve the appropriate audio/visual equipment needed for the program. Determine whether county Extension equipment or the school's equipment will be used. Delivery, scheduling, and sharing of printed materials must also be considered.

  4. Develop an appropriate orientation and training plan. Face-to-face meetings are preferable; however, other modes, such as phone conferencing, may be necessary.


4-H School Enrichment Curricula Resources

Florida's foundation for School Enrichment is usually a subject-matter driven curricula focused on knowledge and skills not addressed by typical school curricula. Curricula packages are usually designed for either a particular subject area or as a cross-curricula approach for a particular grade range. Any 4-H "project" or curriculum package can be used in a school setting; however, specific curricula have been designed to be used for this delivery system.

See the Florida 4-H Curriculum Clearinghouse ( Also, visit the Florida 4-H website to learn about specific information about school enrichment curriculum ( and to access the clip art page for marketing materials. ( .

Involving School Enrichment Members in a County 4-H Program

Promote Joining a 4-H Club

At some point during the 4-H School Enrichment experi- ence, encourage the participants to continue their 4-H experience by joining an existing 4-H club or to recruit a parent to start their own 4-H club. Share a listing of the current 4-H clubs open to membership, the steps involved in joining one, or how to become a club volunteer.

New marketing tools—including posters, postcards for parents, before and after a program, to extend this short-term experience to a longer-term experience are now available on the Florida 4-H website for many popular 4-H school enrichment programs.


Establish an In-School Club

Florida 4-H also allows 4-H clubs to function during class time. The teacher is the organizational club leader, the students elect officers, and each month has a business meeting and an educational program. This allows the students to continue their 4-H experience throughout the school year.

Involvement in County 4-H Programming

If the school enrichment members are unable to join a 4-H club, review your county's 4-H program. How could 4-H School Enrichment members participate? Not all county 4-H activities are adaptable for School Enrichment members. Examine each county program or activity to see how it could support members of School Enrichment programs. Listed below are some suggestions for involving School Enrichment members in county 4-H programming.

The key is planning ahead and informing classroom 4-H members about their eligibility to participate in county events.


County Fair

Some School Enrichment projects lend themselves to exhibits or displays. For example, in a horticulture class, terrariums made in the classroom could be exhibited at a fair. Inform school members of this opportunity during the classroom experience so they can plan for it. Other school-related 4-H programs lend themselves to poster or notebook exhibits. Energy Conservation or Embryology are good examples of poster or exhibit subjects. In addition, look for opportunities to "extend" projects. For example, a project on bicycle safety could involve events such as a bike unit in a parade, a bike drill performance for grandstand entertainment, or competition in a bicycle rodeo.


Awards Programs and Recognition

4-H School Enrichment members should have the op- portunity to be considered for award programs in a project area that has awards available. The 4-H School Enrichment member must complete the same requirements as any other 4-H member. Recognition of 4-H School Enrichment mem- bers can be achieved in inexpensive ways. National 4-H Supply Service, through the Source Book or, offers 4-H pins, certificates, or 4-H branded supplies (such as pencils and pens). If 4-H School Enrichment projects are part of a school's science fair, ribbons might be appropriate.

A feature story on the 4-H School Enrichment members for the school or local newspaper provides another type of recognition.

County Events

School Enrichment members may wish to participate in a public presentation contest. The teacher/leader can encourage members to participate when appropriate. Demonstrations and illustrated talks can be prepared in almost any subject area that is covered in a School Enrichment module.


Camps—Day and Overnight Camps

Include 4-H School Enrichment members on mailing lists to make them aware of 4-H camping opportunities. Prepare an information sheet listing the various types of summer day or overnight camps available. Provide dates, costs, and contact information for the county Extension office.

Trips and Tours

Tours are a good educational tool for 4-H school groups, just as they are for 4-H clubs. Extension staff or School Enrichment key leaders may assist the teacher/leader with identifying and/or organizing tours or field trips. Because school systems have definite policies regarding field trips, be sure to obtain permission from school administration. Examples include the following:

  1. For studying chick embryology, visiting a farm or poultry operation

  2. For ecology projects, setting up nature trails or conservation tours with a local butterfly garden

  3. Holding an Ag Day at the Extension office and recruiting the other Extension agents and Master Gardener volunteers to teach at learning stations which the classes rotate through

  4. Offering an "in-school field trip" using agents, volunteers or homeschooled teens (students like to be taught by their peers) to teach stations on various themes such as health and nutrition, environmental, or general science

Offer additional curricula for teacher classroom lessons.

District and State Events

Publicize 4-H district and state events to appropriate youth audiences in School Enrichment. Some examples are Teen Leadership Conference/Junior Congress, camps, performing arts opportunities (Share-the-Fun), or other community 4-H clubs.


Guidelines for Who Is Considered a 4-H Member

4H'er is an all-inclusive term referring to youth in 4-H programs (that is, community clubs, 4-H afterschool clubs, special interest clubs, short-term programs, camps, and school enrichment programs). Note: School Enrichment members are counted on the annual federal statistical report; currently, Florida uses the Online enrollment system.

For School Enrichment participants, often referred to as "group enrollments," the enrollment system does not require the detailed information on each participant as it would for a traditional 4-H member. For reporting purposes, particular information is requested for these groups of individuals. A sample 4HOnline group enrollment worksheet can be found under Club Resources on the 4-H website at

A 4-H member is one who participates in

  • a program of the Cooperative Extension Service. The Extension personnel have substantial control over the design, organization, implementation, and maintenance of the program (Extension personnel are defined as professional staff, program assistant staff, and/or volunteer adult and youth leaders enlisted in carrying out its functions), and

  • a minimum of six hours of educational learning activities (teaching time, group and individual projects, tours/field trips).


Figure 2. 4-H School Enrichment increases the capacity of Extension to reach more youth in the community.
Figure 2.  4-H School Enrichment increases the capacity of Extension to reach more youth in the community.
Credit: Judy Baxter / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 /


Evaluating 4-H School Enrichment Programs

School Enrichment programs contain specific content designed for delivery over a specific length of time; as such, they provide a unique opportunity for pre/post evalua- tion. Evaluation is an essential part of the total program; therefore, it should be planned at the same time program objectives are being identified. Good program planning includes planning for evaluation. Florida 4-H provides faculty with evaluation tools to support some statewide school enrichment programs in order to document change and impact from these programs. Faculty should consult with the state curricula and evaluation SSA or their local RSA for access to evaluation resources.

Closing Remarks

Remember, 4-H School Enrichment is a part of a balanced 4-H program's multiple delivery modes: clubs, special interest/camping, and school enrichment. It is not something to simply be added to a 4-H agent's already busy plate.



Table 1. 

Checklist for Success of Youth Development/4-H School Enrichment Programs



Table 2. 

4-H School Enrichment: Working With Schools


Publication #4H324

Date: 7/30/2018


  • Program Area: Youth development
Fact Sheet

About this Publication

This document is 4H324, one of a series of the 4-H Youth Development Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date September 2012. Revised April 2015 and July 2018. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication. This publication was adapted from 4-H School Enrichment: A Guide for South Dakota Extension Educators (2008), developed by Marilyn Rasmussen, Youth Development/4-H Specialist, Cooperative Extension Service and College of Family and Consumer Sciences, South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD.

About the Authors

Adapted for use in Florida by Tracy A. Tesdall, UF/IFAS Extension regional specialized 4-H agent, South District; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


  • Andrew Toelle
  • Sarah Hensley