4-H Goes High Tech

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If the first thought that comes into your head when you hear 4-H is a green four-leaf clover with white Hs, good for you. If your first or even second thought is cows and cooking, well, let’s just say it’s time to change that image. This positive youth development organization is heavily into STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math), Agriculture, and Healthy Living. Yes, we do embrace our cows and cooking roots, but we are about so much more than that, as you can see.

The number one question we receive in the 4-H office every year is “How can I sign my child/children/grandchildren up for 4-H?”  In the past, we have gone into an explanation of coming in to fill out forms, the types of forms, or emailing as attachments then bringing them back to us with original signatures…yada, yada, yada. The problem was folks wouldn’t email, or wouldn’t take the time to fill out the forms and bring them back; it was just inconvenient for them.

That is all changing now. I am pleased to say the process for registering for 4-H is now completely online. I know some of you are thinking, “It’s about time.”  Others are saying, “I don’t trust computers or the Internet; I don’t like this idea.”  I understand and empathize with all the different sides of this argument. All I can tell you is that we are the 48th state to use this system. It has been tested and put through the ringer. NC State University has gone through rigorous security checks with it and deemed it fit for 4-H families and volunteers. Does that mean it is flawless? No, but the more we work with it, the easier it is to use, and we can work through anything that comes up.

If you want to sign up for 4-H or become a volunteer, the process is very simple now. Get online (computer, tablet, phone – it doesn’t matter how) and go to the 4HOnline website. You will sign up for a new account under North Carolina 4-H. Once you submit it, our office will receive a submission notification email, and we will either approve it or send it back to you if something is missing. As the year goes forward, folks will be able to register for programs and activities through this system. However, those programs that require payment (such as Teen Retreat, Congress, camp, and Summer Fun) will still require folks to come in and pay, because the online payment process needs to finish being approved by NC State University.

The second most frequent question we hear is how much does it cost to be a 4-H member? It costs nothing to register to be a member, and we have a lot of free opportunities. We also have some that are at a reduced cost, thanks to United Way support. So as we move our registration process online to make it more accessible, there is really no excuse not to take part in this opportunity to make the best better.

For more information, contact Shea Ann DeJarnette, Extension 4-H Youth Development Agent, at 910-671-3276, by email at Shea_Ann_DeJarnette@ncsu.edu, or visit our website.

NC State University and N.C. A&T State University are collectively committed to positive action to secure equal opportunity and prohibit discrimination and harassment regardless of age, color, disability, family and marital status, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, political beliefs, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, and veteran status. NC State, N.C. A&T, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating.