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Ohio 4-H Youth Development

Ohio State University Extension


Cloverbuds Learn about Ohio Cloverbuds

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The Ohio 4-H program is known for its leadership in building strong youth development programs across the nation. When the concept of including youth under the age of nine began in the mid-1980s, no formal instruction or state policies were in place. Later, several state and county staff began the process of developing policies to guide existing Cloverbud programs and to help others where programs were beginning.

Formal implementation of kindergarten through second grade 4-H programs began in 1994 with the approval of a state policy and philosophical statement by the Ohio State University Extension administrative cabinet. It was at this time that "Cloverbuds" became the official name given to all 4-H members K-2 in all 88 Ohio counties. 

About the Cloverbud Program

The 4-H Cloverbud program exists as a distinctive component within the total 4-H youth development program. It is designed as a non-formal approach to developing the confidence, social skills, decision making abilities, subject matter knowledge, and physical skills of kindergarten through second grade youth. As youth begin their 4-H Cloverbud experience, they take part in a unique blend of activities and opportunities specially designed for their age level. 

For more information check out 4-H Cloverbud Program Foundations!

Who can be a Cloverbud?

Membership eligibility for the 4-H Cloverbud Program begins when a child has reached the age of 5 and is enrolled in kindergarten as of January 1 of the current 4-H year.

How are groups organized?

Cloverbud members are members of organized 4-H community clubs and often meet separate from the 8-19 year-old members while doing Cloverbud activities. 

How do Cloverbuds participate?

Cloverbuds participate through a series of lessons that address such subjects as citizenship, expressive arts, the environment, personal development, and plant and animal science to name a few. Each lesson includes a background information section followed by a recommended teaching plan.

Can Cloverbuds exhibit at the county fair?

Yes, Cloverbuds are encouraged to exhibit something from their approved curriculum at the county fair. However, Cloverbud exhibitions must be noncompetitive and for an exhibition only. A Cloverbud "show-n-tell" is an example of how youth can feel a part of the fair without being competitive. Members are provided a place and time to talk about their activity and show what they have learned.

Formal scoring of Cloverbuds or competition of any kind between Cloverbuds and 4-H members 8-19 is not permissible. Any fair participation recognition system, special prizes, or awards must be given equally to all Cloverbud members.

May Cloverbuds go to camp?

Cloverbuds may attend camps especially designed to meet their developmental characteristics and needs. A Cloverbud day camp involves youth in a one day, or a series of days, at a "camp like" setting where educational, hands-on activities occur. Cloverbuds may also attend overnight camps especially designed for their age level, but are not to be in these settings with older youth or for more than three nights.

Who Teaches Cloverbuds?

Much of the Cloverbud program is guided by an adult volunteer, whether in a club setting, or a school. Adult and teen volunteers guiding the Cloverbud program receive specific educational instruction on how to work with this particular age group.


Ohio 4-H Agent's Program Book, 3rd. Edition (1994). Columbus, OH. The Ohio State University.

Safrit, R. D., & Gibbons, G. (1995). Supporting Youth in Grades K-2. Columbus, OH. The Ohio State University.

Scheer, S. D. (1997). Programming parameters for five to eight year-old youth in 4-H. Journal of Extension [On-line serial] 35(4). Available URL address:

This information is from the Ohioline Fact Sheet, "4-H Cloverbuds, 4H-010-99"   ( /4h-fact/0010.html).