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Risk Management for 4-H Youth Development: Volunteer and Youth Protection

Paula Davis, Dale Pracht, Stefanie Prevatt, Janet Psikogios, Kate Fogarty, Jean Hink, and Marilyn Norman

This is one publication in the series Risk Management for 4-H Youth Development Work. This series is intended to prepare UF/IFAS Extension 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. A helpful tool in this process is the "Risk Management for 4-H Youth Development Work: Pre-Event Planning Guide and Matrix," which is found within the Risk Management for 4-H Youth Development Work series. As you work through this matrix, questions may arise that are unique to a specific situation and may not be completely answered by the series. Extension faculty and staff should refer these questions to appropriate personnel. Questions that require time for research punctuate the need for early planning.

This publication will focus on basic overall precautions to be taken by everyone involved with 4-H. Another tool is the Risk Management Checklist, which can be used as a guide when planning an activity or event.


It is a privilege to serve as a Florida 4-H youth development volunteer. Volunteers have an important role in maintaining both a safe environment for 4-H youth and a sense of belonging within the 4-H group and organization.

All volunteers who work with youth in a supervisory role, and/or who work with the 4-H youth program on an ongoing basis, will participate in youth protection. Additional information and guidelines for this process are located in the Florida 4-H Policies & Best Management Practices.

Volunteer Selection and Screening

The intent of the University of Florida UF/IFAS Extension volunteer selection process is to share a common philosophy and follow appropriate protocol to provide safe and secure environments for everyone involved in Extension's youth programs.

Background screenings are mandatory for all volunteers who will have care, custody, or control youth, volunteering ten or more hours a month. For additional information regarding background screenings, please contact your County 4-H Agent. In addition to completing a Level 2 Department of Children and Families (DCF) Clearinghouse background screening, all volunteers must enroll yearly as a volunteer on 4-H Online, complete a notarized Affidavit of Good Moral Character form, and successfully compete the UF Youth Compliance online Youth Protection Training (# YCS800) annually. The training lasts about 30 minutes and includes a brief quiz. The Youth Protection Training can be completed on the OYCS website using a web browser. 4-H volunteers should complete the training through 4-H Online annually when renewing volunteer status or as part of the new volunteer onboarding process.

4-H Code of Conduct

4-H volunteers at the local, state, or national level represent the UF/IFAS Extension 4-H Youth Development Program and must abide by the Florida 4-H Code of Conduct found in the Florida 4-H Policy.

Volunteer Role

UF/IFAS Extension County Directors or their designee may appoint volunteers to positions of program responsibility. Volunteer roles should be clearly defined by county faculty. There are several volunteer role descriptions found in the Volunteer section of the Florida 4-H Policy.

Volunteer Reassignment or Dismissal

Volunteers may be reassigned at the discretion of the County Director. Volunteer Services may cease, at any time, at the request of the volunteer or at the discretion of the UF/IFAS Extension agent. Refer to Florida 4-H Policy.

Health Information

It is mandatory for all participants in 4-H programs, including adults to complete the health form. For more information refer to Florida 4-H Policies Membership and Participation Florida 4-H Policy.

Treat all health information confidentially, although 4-H activities are not subject to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA) Privacy Rule. More HIPPA information can be found at

As a volunteer leader, it is beneficial for you to have some basic medical and emergency contact information for members whose parents might not be present. Any information collected for health care reasons within a 4-H setting shall be protected and not shared. In case of an emergency, always call 911 first.

Club Resources

4-H clubs are the foundation for successful club programming. Having the necessary resources can and will help the 4-H agent and club leader work together in achieving club program success. Refer to Volunteer Resources.


4-H membership is available to all youth ages 5‒18 without regard to race, color, gender, sexual orientation, handicap, or national origin. However, selected projects or programs do have enrollment restrictions. Not all projects or program activities are deemed appropriate for all age ranges due to either developmental appropriateness, safety, or other considerations. For more information, refer to Florida 4-H Policy.

The University of Florida, under the guidelines of ADA and 504 federal legislation, is required to make reasonable accommodations to the known physical and mental limitations of otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities. To help provide the best possible service to students, staff, faculty, and visitors, the University of Florida has an ADA Compliance Office with a coordinator responsible for access for persons with disabilities. For more information refer to Florida 4-H Policy.

University of Florida 4-H programs are required to be open to all youth and adult volunteers regardless of religious background or creed. For more information refer to the Florida 4-H Policy.

Emblem USE

4-H National guidelines and procedures are established for any print or electronic presentation of the 4-H emblem that must be adhered to by Extension faculty and 4-H volunteers and members. For more information, refer to Florida 4-H Policy Name and Emblem, Using the 4-H Name and Emblem, and the 4-H Branding Guide.

Internet/Social Media Safety

As the Internet becomes more predominant in society, youth are using the web more and more often. In designing Extension or 4-H websites, youth should not be identified by their names or 4-H clubs.

It is important for adults and youth to be aware of risks associated with Internet use. The Florida Extension program must handle and monitor the use of personal information in a confidential manner. All 4-H websites must contain the 4-H clover emblem. Using the 4-H clover emblem on an Internet site must adhere to federal regulations. All 4-H websites must link to

Volunteers are subject to UF/IFAS Social Media Policy.

For more information, refer to Florida 4-H Policy for websites and Social Media.

Under state law, Section 790.115, Florida Statutes, the possession of firearms, destructive devices, other weapons, and ammunition (for antique firearms, short-barreled shotguns, short-barreled rifles, automatic rifles, and other destructive devices) at any 4-H activity or event is prohibited. An exception is made for education classes to be conducted on properties designated for 4-H use provided the firearms are handled, used, and stored in a safe and responsible manner, and in accordance with all applicable laws, rules, and regulations. Please refer to the Florida 4-H Policy, for specific details. Additionally, a fact sheet titled "Shooting Sports State Plan and Program Guidelines" is available as part of the Risk Management for 4-H Youth Development Work series.

References and Quick Links

University of Florida Compliance and Ethics, Office of Youth Compliance

Florida 4-H Policy

Florida 4-H Volunteer Resources

Florida 4-H Risk Management Resources

Publication #4HFSV90.11

Release Date:August 7th, 2023

Related Experts

Davis, Paula M

County agent

University of Florida

Fogarty, Kate


University of Florida

Pracht, Dale


University of Florida

Fact Sheet

About this Publication

This document is 4HFSV90.11, one of a series of the 4-H Youth Development Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date September 2018. Revised July 2023. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.

About the Authors

Paula Davis, 4-H youth development agent, UF/IFAS Extension Bay County; Dale Pracht, associate professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences; Stefanie Prevatt, 4-H youth development agent, UF/IFAS Extension Leon County; Janet Psikogios, 4-H program assistant, UF/IFAS Extension Bay County; Kate Fogarty, associate professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences; Jean Hink, 4-H youth development agent, UF/IFAS Extension Pasco County; and Marilyn Norman, associate professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611. Revised by Candi Dierenfield.


  • Candi Dierenfield
  • Dale Pracht
  • Sarah Hensley