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Florida 4-H Community Pride Leader's Guide

Stacey Ellison and Grace Carter

Congratulations! Your 4-H Members are about to take part in the 4-H Community Pride Program. Whether this is your group's first time participating or tenth time working on a project, your youth are going to learn and grow.

This Leader's Guide will help you and your club members get the most out of the Community Pride Program. The guide includes:

  • A description and timeline of the Community Pride Program
  • An explanation of service learning and how it is different than community service
  • Step-by-step examples of how to conduct a community needs assessment
  • Sample reflection questions that you can use with your club
  • A calendar worksheet to guide your project planning
  • A SMART Goals worksheet to help your youth develop project goals

If you have additional questions about the Community Pride Program, contact:

Derby Sale

Leadership/Citizenship Coordinator

University of Florida IFAS Extension

4-H State Headquarters

2142 Shealy Drive

Gainesville, FL 32611


Community Service or Service Learning?

Learning to serve is an essential part of being an engaged citizen. The 4-H Program strives to teach youth to serve their communities. There are many ways to serve, and two common types of service in youth development programs are community service and service learning. What is the difference between the two?

Community Service: The primary goal is doing something for the community.

Service Learning: The goal is twofold. First, participants learn about their community and develop life skills. Second, the project meets a need in the community.

Why Service Learning?

Service learning is an important component of youth development because it allows youth to strengthen their critical thinking skills, leadership skills, and civic and social responsibility.

Florida 4-H Community Pride

Community Pride is a service learning program. The objectives of the Community Pride Program are:

  • Youth learn about their community and the impact the community has on their lives.
  • Youth understand how to relate to their community as individuals and through group cooperation so they can effectively work in community activities, programs, and organizations.
  • Youth develop skills and knowledge in community leadership.
  • Youth gain experience carrying out community projects to improve their environment.
  • Youth develop an interest in and love for their community.

How Does Community Pride Work?

  1. At the beginning of the 4-H year, your club members will conduct a community needs assessment to learn about the challenges facing your community.
  2. After the group has identified several needs facing the community, youth will select a community challenge to focus on and collect more information on that issue.
  3. Youth develop a project to help solve the challenge.
  4. By December 1st, the group submits their Community Pride Grant Proposal.
  5. Proposals are evaluated, and funding is disbursed to clubs in January.
  6. The group implements their project from January to May.
  7. The Community Pride Project Report is submitted by June 1st.
  8. Project reports are evaluated and the top 5 projects are recognized at 4-H University.

The Experiential Learning Process

Service learning is an experiential learning activity. There are five steps in the experiential learning process, but they can be boiled down to three stages: Do, Reflect, and Apply. Before the Community Pride Project has been completed, youth should have experienced all three stages of the Experiential Learning Process.

Do: Youth are engaged in doing an activity. This is a hands-on piece. In service learning, you will participate in three main "Do" activities. They are performing a community needs assessment, creating a project plan, and implementing the project.

Reflect: Reflection allows youth to share about and process what they experienced in the "Do" section of the project. Reflection requires youth to think about how their actions affected project results, understanding what happened, and how they feel about the experience.

Apply: During the reflection process, additional application questions will spark understanding of how the skills and knowledge they have gained through the Community Pride Project and be applied to other projects, programs, and situations.

Step 1: Community Needs Assessment

A Needs Assessment may sound complicated and scary, but it is simply a way for youth to learn about the needs and assets in their community. The community needs assessment should be the first step of your group's Community Pride Project, and it should take at least two meetings to complete. During this portion of the project, youth will brainstorm a list of challenges and resources in their community based on their personal experience and additional research that they complete. Below, you will find recommendations for completing a needs assessment with your club.

Needs Assessments for Senior Age 4-H Members

  1. Define "needs" and "assets." A need is the gap in the community between how things are and how they should be. An asset is a valuable resource that your community has that can help improve a situation. Assets can be people, organizations, or natural resources.
  2. Have youth dedicate some time to exploring the community that you have decided to focus on. Youth should come up with a list of all of the community needs and assets that they see.
  3. Have each youth talk to five different members of the community and ask these community members what challenges their community is facing and what assets their community has.
  4. Youth should report back to the group the needs/assets that they saw and the needs/assets that community members shared with them.
  5. Write down all of the needs that are shared.
  6. Are there any similarities? Is there a pattern emerging?
  7. As a group, have the youth select a community need that they want to focus on.
  8. Next, youth should spend some time researching this need and thinking about solutions.
  9. During the next meeting, the group should brainstorm solutions to the community need they decided to focus on based on research that they have done.

Needs Assessments for Intermediate-Age 4-H Members

  1. Define "needs" and "assets." A need is the gap in the community between how things are and how they should be. An asset is a valuable resource that your community has that can help improve a situation. Assets can be people, organizations, or natural resources.
  2. Ask youth to select three windows at different locations that they look out of on a regular basis. These could be windows at their house, school, place of worship, library, friend's house, their favorite ice cream store, etc.
  3. Have the youth write down any good things (assets) and any issues (needs) that they see when they look out these windows.
  4. At the next meeting, have youth share all of the needs and assets that they saw. Write everything down. Are there similarities? Do they see any patterns?
  5. As a group, have the youth select a community need to focus on.
  6. Help the youth find out more about the need they selected.
  7. At the next meeting, brainstorm ways to help meet that need.

Needs Assessments for Juniors and Cloverbuds

  1. Compile information on various needs in your community.
  2. Talk to the youth about each of these needs. Which of these needs have they seen before? How do these needs affect them? Are there additional needs in the community that they have noticed?
  3. As a group, have the youth select a need to focus on.
  4. What solutions can they think of? Have the youth brainstorm ideas.

What if I have a club with a variety of ages?

  • Modify activities for your older youth as necessary.
  • Allow your older youth to go through a needs assessment process without younger club members. Then, allow your older youth to practice leadership skills by educating younger members about the community need they decided to focus on.
  • Utilize your older youth as project leaders and your younger youth as project participants.

Step 2: Creating a Project Plan

Once your group has completed a community needs assessment, selected a problem to focus on, and brainstormed solutions to the problem, it is finally time to create a project plan.

  1. Have the group look at the potential solutions they have brainstormed.
  2. Youth should select a solution that they can work towards. This solution is their project.
  3. What steps will they need to complete to make their solution a reality? (i.e. fundraising, purchasing supplies, finding community partners, scheduling workdays, etc.)
  4. What are their project goals? How will they know that they have been successful?

Use the Community Pride Calendar Worksheet and Community Pride SMART Goals Worksheet to help your youth develop a project plan.

Once your group has completed a needs assessment and created a project plan, you are ready to implement your Community Pride Project!

Step 3: Reflection Throughout the Project

There are three action steps that your youth will participate in during the service learning process:

  1. Community Needs Assessment
  2. Creating a Project Plan
  3. Implementing the Project

After each of these steps, it is important that the group stop and reflect on what they have done and learned.

Why is Reflection Important?

Intentional reflection allows your youth to process what they have done and learned. They will discuss, analyze, react, and apply. It is during this reflection time that a great deal of the learning will take place.

What Does Reflection Look Like?

Reflection can be done through writing, group discussion, oral reports, drawing, scrapbooking, and more.

Below you will find some possible questions and prompts that you can use throughout your service learning project. Select a few questions from each group to have youth reflect on throughout the project.

Reflection After Completing the Needs Assessment

For Seniors/Intermediates:

  • Which community problems do you feel the most strongly about, and why?
  • What patterns did you recognize in the process that the group just completed?
  • Why was completing a needs assessment for your community harder or easier than you expected?
  • How did the group determine which ideas were the best?
  • What other groups might use community needs assessments, and why?
  • What are other situations where you may need to consider the needs of your community?

For Juniors/Cloverbuds:

  • What was hard about selecting a community need?
  • How did your group pick the best project?
  • Which community problem do you care about the most?
  • Can you think of any other needs or problems in your community, your neighborhood, or your school?
Reflection After Creating the Project Plan

For Seniors/Intermediates:

  • What was the most difficult part of planning the service project, and why?
  • How do you feel about the final plan?
  • How did the group take everyone's ideas into consideration?
  • How were responsibilities divided?
  • Has anything not been considered or discussed yet?
  • Besides 4-H, when do you use a planning process to complete a project?
  • What kinds of jobs require you to create a plan?

For Juniors/Cloverbuds:

  • How do you feel about the final plan?
  • What was hard about listening to everyone's different ideas?
  • Tell me about another time when you had to create a plan.
Reflection After Completing the Service Project

For Seniors/Intermediates:

  • How would you describe the service project that you completed to someone who was interested in learning about Community Pride?
  • What was your favorite/least favorite part of the service project?
  • What part of your plans changed or had to become flexible after you began to work on your project?
  • What was your group's greatest struggle/success?
  • What might your group do differently the next time that you complete a project together?
  • Outside of 4-H, what are some situations where you have to be flexible and allow plans to change?
  • In what other situations can you work with others to serve your community?

For Juniors/Cloverbuds:

  • What was your favorite/least favorite part of the service project?
  • What might you do differently the next time you do a project with your 4-H Club?
  • What are other ways that you can serve your community outside of 4-H?

Step 4: Sharing and Celebrating

Completing a Community Pride Project is an incredible experience for your 4-H Club. You will want to make sure that you share your accomplishments with others and celebrate what you have done.


  • Throughout your service learning experience, make sure that you are taking photos and video recordings
  • Have youth create a press release about their project that you can send to local newspapers, news stations, magazines, newsletters, etc.
  • Encourage your youth to give a presentation on their project at a county

4-H meeting or to another 4-H club.


  • Once you have completed your Community Pride Project, take time to celebrate your accomplishments.
  • The top 5 projects from across the state will be recognized at 4-H University, but you can throw your own celebration for your club. Host a special club meeting with food and cake. Invite your 4-H agent and community partners who helped you complete your project.
  • Present your club members with certificates of accomplishment to recognize the work that they have done throughout the year.
  • Start planning for next year! Decide what month you will start your next Community Pride Project and set your calendar for the next 4-H year.

Acknowledgments and References

This Leader's Guide was prepared by the Florida 4-H Citizenship Action Team. Content was adapted from The National 4-H Cooperative Curriculum System Inc.'s Service Learning Helper's Guide (2005), Agents of Change (2005), and Raise Your Voice (2005). Reflection questions were adapted from the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service article "Beyond 4-H Community Service to Community Service Learning" (2016). The benefits of service learning are pulled from research by Stephenson, Stephenson, and Mayes (2012) in "Engaging Students in Service Learning through Collaboration with Extension: A recipe for success with community partners".

Publication #4HCSO10

Release Date:March 5, 2020

Reviewed At:August 30, 2021

Related Experts

Ellison, Stacey


University of Florida


About this Publication

This document is 4HCSO10, one of a series of the 4-H Youth Development Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date January 2019. Revised March 2020. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.

About the Authors

Stacey Ellison, northeast regional specialized agent; and Grace Carter, citizen leadership coordinator; 4-H Youth Development Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


  • Stacey Ellison