Adapted from University of Arizona 4-H Youth Development and University of California, Agriculture & Natural Resources 4-H Youth Development Program, Yolo County

As a 4-H volunteer, you are responsible for the health and wellness of the members, parents, and other volunteers who participate in your program. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation is rapidly developing, we want to provide some guidance to support your efforts. University of Nevada, Reno Extension 4-H Youth Development leadership recognizes that each community has a different context, and thus, current decisions about county-level program cancellation is being made in partnership between Extension Educators in each county and the 4-H staff. Extension will continue to monitor the situation and may modify guidance as conditions change.

First and foremost, it is important to assess the risk factors for the individuals in your 4-H community. Postponing or not holding events is the best way to prevent contamination and transmission of the disease. However, there may be events that are not feasible to postpone or cancel. In these instances, increasing your sanitary practices is necessary. As the adage says, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

We do not want to induce panic, yet we do want to educate our youth on good hygiene habits. 

This is also an opportunity to teach our youth about microbiology, epidemiology, and social responsibility. If you need additional information to share with your clubs, please let us know.

Below are actionable steps you can take to reduce the risk of spreading disease at your 4-H events and meetings. The underlying message is to reduce the touching of shared items and reduce close contact between participants. Select those things which make the most sense for your situation. With many of these items, no one would even notice you had made a change.

General Guidelines, as recommended by State Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that should be followed to protect yourself and others:

• Stay home when sick and avoid contact with other people unless you need medical attention.
• Follow common-sense steps such as washing your hands often and well; covering your coughs and sneezes; and cleaning and disinfecting.
• If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Avoid close contact with people by staying at least six (6) feet apart.
• Wear cloth face coverings in public settings when social distancing is difficult to maintain.

Before 4-H Meetings Begin:

Number of people at meetings

  • Ensure there will be no more than 50 people or county limitations, whichever is less, in attendance at any meeting or activity. The number needs to include everyone (volunteers, parents, members, siblings, guest speakers, etc.).
  • If your club is larger than 50 people for attendance, consider doing a blended learning approach where some members join via technology (if available).

Meeting Locations

  • Wipe down all common surfaces, as recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Common surfaces include tables, counters, doorknobs, light switches, counter-tops, handles, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, chairs, etc.
  • Face coverings are required to be worn by everyone attending the event (except for children under the age of 2).

Relax attendance policies

  • We need to be as flexible as possible with attendance, and avoid the situation where someone feels they need to attend a meeting or event, especially if they are sick or at risk of illness. Relax policies about attending meetings and events. If a child or close family member of a child is sick, they should be excused from participating. This absence should not count against their qualifications for other activities such as the county fair.

Schedule back-up volunteers

  • Parents could be inclined to bring a sick child with them to an event when they are committed to volunteering. This is well-intentioned but should be discouraged (see attendance policies above). To avoid gaps in help, be sure to add a few more certified volunteers to your roster for each activity to cover unplanned absences.


  • Space tables, chairs, shooting points, etc. farther apart to ensure social distancing (at minimum 6 feet apart), be sure to put them back to original location when meeting is over if using a public space. It is recommended that everyone bring their own seating for meetings held outside.

During 4-H Meetings:


  • Sign in sheets must be used at all meetings and lists should be sent to the Extension Office within 7 days of the meeting. These lists must include everyone who was at the meeting (youth members, volunteers, parents, siblings, guests). This is for contact tracing purposes.

No-touch educational resources

  • Instead of passing around something cool for the children to see, consider walking around with it and showing them at eye-level eliminating the need for them to touch it.
  • Instead of the take-one-and-pass-it-along method of paper distribution, hand them out one at a time.
  • Everyone must have their own pen or pencil (there will be no sharing of these items).
  • If everyone usually uses the same pen to check-in for attendance, instead have one person take attendance so not everyone is touching the same pen/pencil.
  • Will there be only one pair of shears, or camera, or glue bottle, etc. for everyone to use? Use some disinfectant wipes between each use throughout the activity.

Equipment Sharing

  • There will be no sharing of equipment, except between immediate family members. This includes all equipment in the 4-H Shooting Sports program.

Food and Beverage

  • Boxed or pre-packaged/individual meals may only be served at 4-H activities. Youth and adults can bring their own food and drink but may not share with anyone except those their immediate family.

Make time for proper hygiene

  • Include time in the meeting/event schedule for everyone to wash their hands before eating. Take the opportunity now to teach about proper hand washing.
  • Have hand sanitizer, with at least 60% alcohol available if there isn’t a place to wash hands regularly.
  • It is highly recommended that everyone over the age of 2 wear a face covering. Extension staff who are in attendance must follow University policy regarding face coverings.

Have tissues available

  • Bring a box of tissues for use by anyone sneezing or coughing to catch those germs.
  • Send individuals home if they show signs of an illness.

Change how you open doors

  • Make sure paper towels and garbage cans are available by bathroom doors, so people can open the door with a towel and then throw it away.

Consider your activities

  • We need to ensure that activities do not require close physical contact. If you planned a game that requires close physical contact, save that for another time. As an example, choose ice breakers that do not require physical touch between participants during highly infectious seasons.

Start a new greeting

  • Instead of shaking hands, can you invent a new greeting? The youth will enjoy coming up with a silly new way to say hello that does not involve touching (and the adults will too)!


After the 4-H Meeting:

Parental Pick Up

  • Have activities ready for individual youth to do while awaiting their pick-up. These could be handouts, games, etc., that don’t involve contact with each other.

Consider post-meeting clean-up

  • You should disinfect afterwards. Plan to take fifteen minutes after everyone has left to wipe down all frequently touched surfaces with a disinfectant spray or bleach solution. The CDC and EPA provide the following guidance:
  • Cleaning removes germs and dirt from surfaces. You can use soap and water to clean surfaces. This doesn't always kill germs but removing them lowers their numbers. It's suggested to clean surfaces before you disinfect them.
  • Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces. Disinfectant chemicals are stronger than soap but do not necessarily clean visibly dirty surfaces or remove germs. Killing germs lowers the risk of infection. To properly disinfect, products need to re-main on a surface for a specific amount of time -- usually 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Sanitizing also kills germs, but disinfecting kills more of them. Some products are capable of doing both, but disinfecting requires a bit more work. Still, sanitizers effectively lower the risk of infection.


County Fairs and other large events

  • The restrictions of in-person educational settings and events does not affect events hosted by other organizations, which Extension personnel and clients may participate in. The decision about whether these events will take place will be made by local county commissioners, fair boards and/or health departments.
  • Local shows, such as youth livestock competitions at county fairs, belong to the public. These events are typically controlled by local boards, associations, officers and other groups external to Extension and these entities will decide if and when their activities will take place, not UNR Extension. Our staff and volunteers may continue to provide support to these activities, using the best safety practices. Extension employees, volunteers, participants, and 4-H youth must follow the University policies and procedures, including face coverings and social distancing.


4-H Shooting Sports Meeting/Activities Specific Guidelines:

  • Ensure that a certified leader appropriate for the discipline is present for the activity. Also ensure that there are two adults present to run the activity.
  • To manage the numbers of shooters present, use sign up times for practice times. This will allow for management of numbers to allow physical distancing.
  • Ensure there will be no more than 50 people or county limitations, whichever is less, in attendance at any meetings or activities. The number needs to include everyone (volunteers, parents, members, siblings, guest speakers, etc.).
  • All adult volunteers must wear a face covering Non- flammable face coverings are recommended for use in the muzzleloader discipline.
  • Participants must wear face coverings except when on the firing line.
  • Rearrange firing points to allow for six feet of distance between shooters. For Airgun, small- bore, and, archery, a suggested two firing points between shooters would be sufficient. Shot- gun activities such as Trap would satisfy the requirement. The squad of five shooters would need to maintain the 6 feet of distance.
  • As under Standard Best Practices, Eye Protection and appropriate Hearing Protection need to be used. 
  • Do not share equipment unless to immediate family members. Assign equipment to each shooter to minimize cross contamination.
  • At the conclusion of the practice session, sanitize all shooting surfaces, tables, etc. Be sure to have shooters wash their hands with soap and water before and after the activity. A bleach solution may be used. Following the guidelines from the CDC; To make a bleach solution, mix: 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water OR 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water.Alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol may also be used. For complete CDC Guidelines, please see the following website address;
  • It is recommended to wipe down firearm, archery, and airgun equipment with appropriate cleaning and lubricating solvents at the end of each session.
Stark, C. 2020, 4-H Club Guidance for COVID-19 | Long Term Road to Recovey, Extension, University of Nevada, Reno Bulletin-2020-01

Authors of this scholarly work are no longer available.

Please contact Extension's Communication Team for assistance.


Also of Interest:

Nevada Stakeholder Perceptions of Youth Educational and Mental Health Needs During the Pandemic
Nearly a year after the first case of COVID-19 was diagnosed in the U.S., it is evident that the pandemic is more than just a physical health crisis, especially for young people.
Horrillo, S; Evans, W; Gallo, J; Norze, J; Stark, C; Sanchez, J; Demchak, M; Chvilicek, S; Bray, S; 2021, Extension | University of Nevada, Reno
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Cómo sobrellevar el COVID-19: Webinar Semanal Temas de la semana: ¿Qué hago si no puedo? Empresarios Resilientes.
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