So, you are wondering about record books? You are in good company! Many new members and leaders have no idea what a record book "is," much less how to "do" one. Even experienced members are unsure of what to do. They avoid the task, figuring that it is more trouble than it is worth. You will be relieved to know that completing a record book is not difficult and it is definitely worth the effort!
This is a guide for leaders, parents, and members who want to know more about the "why's," "how's," and "when's" of 4-H record books, including page by page examples and notes.
WHAT ARE RECORDS?
Records are a written summary of 4-H activities and projects. Records need to show what the member has learned, what they have done in their projects, how 4-H has helped them, and the activities in which they have participated. Your county Extension office has specific forms (records) to help members keep track of important information. Project records are available directly from the county offices or can be downloaded/printed from the web at http://extension.oregonstate.edu/catalog/4h/.
WHY DO RECORDS?
Your records show your growth through the years. It lists how you have helped others, what you have been able to teach and share as well as learn. It shows profit and loss and goals set and accomplished. It is a reflection of YOU.
As you keep your records you will be developing personal skills in financial management, recording useful information and memories, and evaluating your experiences and personal growth. This will give you a tool to share your experience with others and will also help plan for the next year.
There are many reasons to keep Record Books such as:
WHEN TO START AND END 4-H RECORDS?
Records should be started at the beginning of the official 4-H year (October 1st) and be completed by the end of that year (September 30th). Write things down right after they happen, either on a piece of notebook paper, on a calendar, or in the proper place for records. This helps with accuracy and neatness. New members start at the time of enrollment. If you are new to doing records you are not required to do previous years except by choice. You may just begin with your current year of participation.
PERMANENT RECORDS INFORMATION
Do Not Repeat
How to Share Knowledge
4-H Story / Notes
There are several different ways to complete your story, you may use pen or pencil, or it may be typed or computer generated. You may chose to use the 4-H Notes page or a plain white 8 ½" x 11" sheet of paper. The story is to be single sided on a sheet of paper and a maximum of 6 pages long. It is a good idea to use the story to introduce yourself. Each time your record book is submitted you will write a new story to reflect the past 4-H year.
Stories may be written as creatively as you wish, in a story or diary format. If using a diary format you might want to write it as the year progresses. If something within your permanent records needs further explaining, this might be an ideal place to do that.
Write about your 4-H projects and activities. What did you learn that year? What made you select that project? Have your projects grown in size or gotten more advanced? How were you successful or unsuccessful? If you were unsuccessful, what might you have done differently to achieve a different result? Did you make any money from your project? What about loss? What was a special activity you did? Did you meet any new people? Was there an embarrassing or sentimental moment? What was the best experience you had?
Explain how 4-H has helped you become the person you are. How have you grown as a leader or citizen? What have you learned from your experiences working with others? Describe a community service you have completed. What have you learned from the experience? Did it make you think differently? What have you learned about yourself?
Tell about your plans for the future. Did 4-H play a part in shaping these plans? Have you achieved any of the goals you set? How have you grown over the past year? Is there someone who has been especially helpful to you? Did you participate in activities alone or with others? What was their impact on what you were doing? Were there any new leadership responsibilities you took on? What was your favorite or least favorite experience?
These are all great questions to consider when beginning to write your story.
Newspaper Clippings / Photographs
Newspaper clippings and photographs may be included in your 4-H Record Book. These can be neatly attached to a sturdy 8 ½" x 11" sheet of paper, either plain or colored. A heavier card stock is a good choice. Be sure to include dated captions under each photo to give a brief explanation of the picture. You may use up to 6 single sided pages to display your photos or clippings. Feel free to be a bit creative in how you arrange your photos. A high quality color copy or computer printout of the entire page is acceptable if the member prefers not to send actual photographs. Page protectors may be used for this section ONLY. Please do not include items such as registrations or pedigree papers. Ribbons, certificates or other scrapbook type items should not be included in your book.
Records for each project enrolled should be included in your book. Each project needs to have its own divider separating it from the other projects or sections. Project records detail what you did or learned. They also help you to keep track of expenses and income for the year. Project records are a good journal for every project you have completed or worked on that year. The project size should match what you have written on page II of your permanent record.
Advancements are optional but highly recommended. Certificates are available for completed steps; ask your leader about them. They may be securely attached to a sheet of card stock behind the advancement books.
Helpful Reminders and Suggestions:
Assembling Your Record Book
- Permanent Records pages (all 13, even if some pages have no entries)
- 4-H Story/Notes
- Project Records (including Advancements with each project)
- Photos and News clippings