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Risk Management for Florida 4-H Youth Development Work: Risk Management Checklist

Written by Dale Pracht, Paula Davis, Janet Psikogios, and Sarah Hensley. Revised by Arielle Pierce and Candi Dierenfield

This is one publication in the EDIS series Risk Management for 4-H Youth Development Work. This series is intended to prepare UF/IFAS Extension county faculty, staff, volunteers, and youth to satisfactorily complete the important task of providing best practices in risk management strategies.

Our goal is to conduct educational events and activities that coincide with the 4-H mission and mandates while protecting the safety of participants, sponsors, property, finances, and the goodwill/reputation of the 4-H name. The inherent risk of events and activities can be mitigated through planning and preparation. This risk management guide has been created to outline ways to prepare for and deal with the specific risks associated with your program.

Early planning is key to conducting successful events and activities. This checklist will help during event/activity planning. This list is not intended to be all-inclusive, but rather to provide a starting point for analyzing the risk management plan. Items are identified as UF Youth Compliance Policy (UF Youth Compliance P), 4-H Policy (P), State Law (SL), or Best Management Practice (BMP).

Child Protection

Ensure the program complies with all UF policies and state laws regarding volunteer and staff background screening, youth protection training, and reporting youth participants. (See EDIS publication #4H444, “UF/IFAS Extension 4-H Youth Protection Policy” for more detail.)

  • Ensure appropriate staff-to-participant ratios are in place at all times. (UF Youth Compliance P)
  • Ensure appropriate leadership (two authorized adults/two deep leadership) in place at all times. (UF Youth Compliance P)
  • Ensure appropriate screening for staff and volunteers per Florida law and UF compliance standards. (SL & UF Youth Compliance P)
  • Ensure sufficient adult/child ratio includes gender and that appropriate accommodations are available for overnight events. (UF Youth Compliance P)
  • Ensure participants have appropriate attire and safety equipment. (BMP)
  • Ensure safety by limiting contact between youth participants and individuals not associated with the program. (BMP)
  • Ensure appropriate communication and no one-on-one communication between adults and youth participants, including social media, telephone, emails, and meetings outside of scheduled activities. (UF Youth Compliance P)
  • Ensure Youth Protection training is completed by volunteers and staff annually through 4-H Online. (UF Youth Compliance P)
  • Risk Assessment: Refer to EDIS publication #4HFSV90.1, “Pre-Event Planning Guide and Matrix,” ("what if" scenarios; estimate potential risk; establish strategies to reduce risk) another part in this series. (BMP)
  • Policy: Refer to Florida 4-H Policies & Best Management Practices. (P)
  • Conduct Requirements: Ensure Code of Conduct documents are signed by all adult and youth participants (including, but not limited to, possession/use of alcohol, tobacco, drugs; weapons; bullying; hazing; inappropriate use of imaging devices; harmful behaviors; dress code; appeals process). (P)

Supervising Adults and/or Teens

  • Ensure volunteers and/or chaperones selected through the Florida 4-H volunteer process meet all requirements (includes parents serving in a volunteer role). (P)
  • Ensure volunteers abide by child protection procedures/laws concerning screening, privacy, and reporting procedures. (UF Youth Compliance P)
  • Orient and train volunteers and/or chaperones for their roles, working with youth, emergency procedures, and event/activity responsibilities. (BMP)
  • Ensure all medications for participants have an accompanying Medication Form, are accounted for, and are secured with a volunteer in Care, Custody, and Control or with medical personnel if on-site. (BMP)
  • Communicate drop-off & pick-up procedures to parents (Restricted & Early Release Forms). (BMP)
  • Establish and implement the process for youth to sign "in" and "out" of a program. (BMP)
  • Conduct participant orientation, including rules, policies, guidelines, safety, and emergency procedures. (BMP)

Parents of Participants

  • Conduct parent orientation, including program purpose, rules, and policies for participation, safety, and emergency procedures, etc. (BMP)
  • Complete enrollment/registration. (P)
  • Sign permission to participate or informed consent form for child. (P)
  • Understand financial obligations and pay any required costs by deadlines. (BMP)


  • Volunteers & agents are not permitted to sign contracts. If a contract is required to be signed, please contact your county Extension director. (P)


Ensure the site chosen meets the following safety requirements:

  • Provides a safe environment for participants. (BMP)
  • Accessible for individuals with disabilities and special needs. (SL)
  • Emergency exits are clearly marked, unlocked, and easily accessible. (BMP)
  • Emergency equipment exists and is accessible if needed. (BMP)
  • Aware of other groups using the facilities and any potential conflicts. (BMP)
  • Lifeguard with appropriate certification present when near water. (BMP)
  • Provide separate accommodations for adults and participants. Youth are not permitted to sleep in the room of an adult (over age 18) other than his/her own parent or guardian. (UF Youth Compliance P)
  • If possible, programs should have separate shower and bathroom facilities or separate times for each gender, youth, and adults. (BMP)

Ensure the site chosen meets the following liability requirements:

  • If liability insurance is required by the chosen facility, seek assistance from the county Extension agent in obtaining appropriate liability insurance. (BMP)
  • Obtain facility use forms, agreements, and/or contracts from managements of the chosen facility. See the previous section called Contracts. (BMP)


Required for All Drivers

  • Meet all requirements set forth in UF Environmental Health and Safety Office for employees and volunteers. (P)
  • If transporting youth in a 15-passenger van, please consult the corresponding van policy.
  • Have a copy of the driver's license and insurance on file. (BMP)
  • Oriented of planned route, provided with maps and directions, and have set meeting times & destinations. (BMP)
  • Must have the ability to communicate by cell phone or two-way radio. (P)
  • Have a copy of all transportation release and health forms of youth being transported. These can be found on 4-H Online in each member’s profile. (Volunteers should contact the UF/IFAS Extension county 4-H agent for a copy of participant health forms.)

Required for All Participants

  • Completed transportation (part of registration process, found in member’s profile) release in 4-H Online.
  • Wear seat belts at all times. (SL)
  • Refrain from behavior that is distracting to the driver. (BMP)

Food Preparation

  • Assess that liability coverage is adequate. (BMP)
  • Ensure food is handled, prepared, and stored safely per USDA guidelines. (BMP)
  • Refer to the Food Safety EDIS topic for food safety in Florida. (BMP)

Liability Coverage, Insurance, and Laws

  • Assess that liability coverage is adequate. (BMP)
  • Secure accident insurance for all participants. (BMP)
  • Secure proper liability insurance before transporting youth. (BMP)


Participant Health-Related Requirements

  • Signed Florida 4-H Participation Form with emergency contact information for each participant (minor and adult) is accessible by person(s) in charge. (BMP)
  • Access to healthcare in an emergency is known and understood even when traveling out of town. (BMP)
  • Have phone numbers of the nearest hospital, ambulance, and law enforcement. (BMP)
  • Secured health and/or accidental insurance (i.e., American Income Life).
  • Have incident or accident report forms available for use by person(s) in charge. (BMP)
  • If an accident occurs, call for help, contact parent or guardian, contact CED, or contact UF/IFAS Extension. (BMP)
  • Check with Extension agent/staff about 4-H Activity Insurance & Emergency Management Procedures. (BMP)
  • Carry and use two-way radios and/or cell phones for emergencies and on-going communication. (BMP)
  • Have current and up-to-date first-aid kit available. (BMP)

Unexpected Situations/Acts of Nature Planned for

  • Storm warning system. (BMP)
  • Unexpected weather (access to shelter, means to contact parents with change of location, etc.). (BMP)
  • Alternative plans. (BMP)
  • Identify nearest shelter in case of severe weather or emergency (BMP):

Fire _________________

Flood _______________

Tornado _____________

Hurricane ____________


Risk Management for 4-H Youth Development Work EDIS series:

“UF/IFAS Extension 4-H Youth Protection Policy”:

UF Youth Compliance Staff-to-Participant Ratios:

UF Youth Compliance:

Youth Protection Training:

  • 4-H volunteers should log into 4-H Online at the link above to complete UF Youth Compliance training annually.

Pre-event Planning Guide and Matrix:

Florida 4-H Policies & Best Management Practices:

Florida 4-H Medication Form:

UF Environmental Health and Safety 12 to 15 Passenger Van Policy:

USDA Food Safety Guidelines:

EDIS Topic of Food Safety:


Florida Extension Disaster Education Network:

Extension Disaster Education Network:

Agriculture & Livestock Disaster Preparedness:

UF/IFAS Emergency Preparedness:

Nonprofit Risk Management Center:

Further Reading

Herman, M. (2011). Ready or Not...A Risk Management Guide for Nonprofit Executives. 2nd edition. Leesburg, VA: Nonprofit Risk Management Center.

Publication #4HFSV373

Release Date:April 22, 2024

Related Experts

Davis, Paula M.

County agent

University of Florida

Hensley, Sarah T.


University of Florida

Pracht, Dale


University of Florida

Dierenfield, Candi


University of Florida

Pierce, Arielle

County agent

University of Florida

Fact Sheet

About this Publication

This document is 4HFSV373, one of a series of the Florida 4-H Youth Development Program, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date March 2018. Revised April 2024. Visit the EDIS website at © 2024 UF/IFAS. This publication is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

About the Authors

Dale Pracht, associate professor, Department of Family, Youth, and Community Sciences; Paula Davis, Extension agent IV, Florida 4-H Youth Development Program, UF/IFAS Extension Bay County; Janet Psikogios, former program assistant, Florida 4-H Youth Development Program, UF/IFAS Extension Bay County; Sarah Hensley, state specialized Extension agent III, Florida 4-H Youth Development Program; Arielle Pierce; Extension agent I, Florida 4-H Youth Development Program, UF/IFAS Extension Lee County; and Candi Dierenfield, state specialized Extension agent IV, Florida 4-H Youth Development Program; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


  • Candi Dierenfield
  • Dale Pracht
  • Sarah Hensley
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