Surviving versus Thriving: How are our 4-H Families Feeling?

We all have felt like we are just surviving in life, it is a natural feeling. It isn’t always the picture perfect image from a storybook we have for our family, but for some this is not just a temporary stop on the journey of life. For some families, this is a way of life day in and day out that causes stress, anxiety and other health concerns on both caregivers and children. Do we as 4-H volunteers know i our families are surviving or thriving when they come to meetings?  According to, there are several characteristics of a Thriving Family, but we will focus on two of those: quality family time and positive supportive adults for caregivers and children.

4-H club meetings can provide both of those supportive characteristics for our families. What better time to get a family to be focused on each other and experiencing quality family time then engaging Cloverbuds and caregivers in an activity that has them working together at a club meeting.  An activity that allows for creativity and flexibility is a win-win for engaging caregivers and children in collaboration. Designing your family shield is a good activity that includes writing and drawing components.  A family shield can be printed or downloaded from the following link. The shield should have four sections and a banner across the bottom where you can list your family name. Caregivers and children should complete one section on the shield for each of the following prompts:

  • People we Love (Make a list)
  • Family Fun (Draw a picture)
  • People that we can Count on (Make a list)
  • How our Family Communicates (Pictures or a list)

4-H volunteers should be a positive adult role model that supports youth in their club and encourages children to explore their interests and learn new skills. As 4-H volunteers you can also be that supportive adult that a Cloverbud caregiver might need in their life to move their family from surviving to thriving. Engage caregivers in the Cloverbud experiences during your club meetings on a quarterly schedule or provide time for them to talk with another 4-H volunteer while at the club meeting. I think you can agree that we all can use another supportive adult in our lives and someone else “in your corner” when life throws you a curve ball.

Source: (n.d.). About the thriving families campaign and the Northwest Quadrant. Retrieved on November 15, 2022, from

Keeping Cloverbuds Connected

It seems like most Ohio 4-H Clubs have packed up their activities and 4-H meetings are limited as we head into fall. Some 4-H clubs meet year-round, but most take a fall break to reboot. However, our Cloverbud members sometimes don’t want to take a break.  What can we do to help them stay connected and involved in 4-H even during the non-peak season? There are so many ways volunteers can provide projects and activities for members even if they aren’t attending meetings. Below you will find a few ideas for activities that can be done in a home environment or in a club setting to help Cloverbuds feel engaged in 4-H. Share these ideas with your4-H club families, so they have resources to help members stay connected. 

Thank you notes for advisors or older members.

Provide paper, stickers, markers, or crayons. Encourage the Cloverbud to have fun and be creative. Talk about why it is important to write thank you notes and brainstorm whom the Cloverbud may want to write to. It could be an advisor that helped them learn about 4-H, an older member who helped with an activity, or even a parent or guardian that helped the Cloverbud make it to a special Cloverbud event. Thank notes can be created with a few simple steps: create a design, say thank you, share a detail on why they are saying thank you, address the card, and mail or hand deliver it. What an important life skill for a Cloverbud to learn and practice!

Arrange a play date with a fellow 4-H Cloverbud member.

A very needed and important part of 4-H is being with new people and making friends. Once the meetings stop for the year, members miss their friends. So, arrange a meeting at the library, park, or other safe place to spend time with a 4-H friend. 

Stop at your Ohio State University Extension (OSUE) office to look at project books.

All Extension offices love to have visitors, especially 4-H members. Plan a time to stop in and go through the project books. It will not be long before the member will be able to take projects so this could be a wonderful time for them to explore topics, projects, and more. They can also get a quick tour of the office and meet the staff that works with 4-H and 4-H Cloverbud members. 

Search the Ohio 4-H Family Guide.

Sometimes just reading about 4-H or seeing pictures is enough to keep the 4-H excitement going. The new family guide is posted at Current members will also receive a copy over the winter.  (Thank you to the Kroger Company for making this possible!)  The Family Guide is the one stop spot for Cloverbud and project members to learn about the complete collection of 4-H projects for Ohio. This will be even more exciting for members graduating from Cloverbud membership to project membership as they can begin selecting a project for 2023.

 Watch county emails for special fall and winter events.

Many OSUE offices and 4-H Programs offer promotional and fun events around the holidays and winter season. Check emails, social media, and your local 4-H website to see if there are any fun events going on.

Click it, Print it, Do it Activities – New Activities!

Visit for ready-to-go educational and fun activities. Simply click, print, and do fun activities with your Cloverbud. From learning safety around dogs to sports bingo, this is your place to find Cloverbud ready activities. Most activities require few supplies and cover a broad range of topics. 

Time Capsule.

Ohio 4-H has a wonderful resource with instructions to make a time capsule. This could be a fun way for Cloverbud members, or the entire family to complete to celebrate and remember the year. A time capsule is a fun way to help a member create a visual record. This could be for an event, a specific period of time, or even the current 4-H year. 

Goal setting for next 4-H season. 

Sometimes members jump from one event to the next and do not have the opportunity to spend time reflecting on the experience and what they learned. As we launch into another active season, it is especially important for our youngest members to reflect on their 4-H experience and talk about goals for the following year. Sometimes the term “goal” may seem overwhelming, but it is important for the Cloverbud member to know what the term means. This might be the first time a child might get to experience setting goals. So, they will need some direction to create clear and measurable goals.

  1. Brainstorm ideas on what they want to accomplish next year.
  2. Create a plan for each goal. (1 or 2 goals will be plenty for Cloverbud members.)
  3. Read the goal regularly so they can visualize themselves accomplishing the goal(s).
  4. Reflect on their progress to see if they are on target.
  5. Revise the plan if needed.
  6. Celebrate when a member meets the goal(s).

These are just a few examples of fun hands-on learning activities that can be completed anytime throughout the year. Encourage parents and guardians to review the activities and talk to their Cloverbud members. They should work together to make plans to work on one or two activities a month that fit into their schedule. Hopefully, by sharing this information with 4-H families Cloverbuds will find ways to stay connected to 4-H until 2023!