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Just for the Record: A 4-Her's Guide to 4-H Records

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Publication Number: P2544
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Recordkeeping is an important skill and art. We encourage all 4-H’ers to participate in the 4-H Record Program.

As a participant in the Record Program, you develop observation skills, collect and organize data, and learn basic bookkeeping. The record book also allows you to record losses, profits, and other helpful information about your 4-H project work. Through this process, you can establish goals and record your progress and the steps you had to take to accomplish those goals.

As a reward for hard work, you can receive awards and/or recognition through money and/or trips. Collaboration with the Congressional Award Program allows individuals enrolled and seeking their respective Congressional Medals to use the information in the 4-H Record Book in their Congressional Award Record Book. Small icons on the left side of the pages guide you to sections of the record that relate to the Congressional Program.

Today, you can use technology to keep and complete your records. One of the features of the 4-H Record Program is that intermediate and senior 4-H’ers can complete the record report form on the computer. Junior (8 and 9) records must be written, but Junior (10 and 11), intermediate, and senior 4-H’ers are encouraged to submit typed records. (Handwritten records are accepted.) Report forms are available at If you would like to submit handwritten records, hard copies of each report form are available through your county Extension office.

Reasons for the 4-H Record

Your 4-H Record Book is a summary of 4-H projects and activities completed during your 4-H career. It reflects your interests, participation, and experiences. The record reveals self-improvement and service to the community.

Here are a few ways the 4-H Record helps you:

  • Establish goals
  • Assume responsibility for record keeping
  • Collect data using systematic procedures
  • Evaluate your growth and progress

The 4-H Record helps volunteer leaders:

  • Understand and know you
  • Learn about your interests and aspirations
  • Evaluate your progress and achievement

Basic Instructions

Completed Record Books should contain five sections. Sections should be assembled in this order: photo page, contents page, Mississippi 4-H Report Form, 4-H Story, and project pictures.

Section 1: Photo and Information Page

Should include one wallet-sized picture. The information should include your name, address (street or route), city, county, state, zip code, age, date of birth, and project.

Section 2: The Contents Page

Once completed, the 4-H Record Book will have a large amount of information. To help you and others who may read the book, a contents page is needed. Overall scoring includes the book’s overall presentation. One way of making a book look polished is assigning tabs at the beginning of each section, which coincide with the proper order.

We strongly recommend section dividers with tabs, but you can be creative and design your own dividers. Tabs should extend beyond the papers’ edges and be clearly visible but not outside of the record’s cover.

Helpful Hint: A good record book is consistent! It does not have some typed parts and some handwritten parts. If you can type, type all of it. Or if you prefer to do it in handwriting, hand-write all of it!

Section 3: The Report Forms

The Mississippi 4-H Record program uses two different report forms for 4-H members. Those classified as juniors (ages 8–11 as of January 1) use the form identified as “Ages 8–11” in the heading. The intermediate (ages 12–14 as of January 1) and senior (ages 15–18 as of January 1) divisions use the report form with “Ages 12–18” in the heading. The report form is only one part of the total 4-H Record Book.

The Mississippi 4-H Record Form for Junior (8 and 9) 4-H’ers must be completed in their handwriting with a blue or black pen. Records completed in pencil will be penalized and could cause a record to drop from blue to red quality!

Mississippi 4-H Record Form for 4-H’ers in Junior (10 and 11), intermediate, and senior age groups can be completed on a typewriter or a computer. The font should be Times New Roman and no larger than 12-point type.

Keep all 4-H Record report forms in your 4-H Record Book, placing them in chronological order, with the oldest form first.

Section 4: 4-H Story

The 4-H Story is a very important part of the 4-H Record. While it should focus on the program in which you submit the record (main project), you can report on significant items from all years. It is okay to mention things about other projects in the story. Do your best to convey how participation in 4-H contributed to your self-respect and concern for others and influenced your schoolwork, your use of leisure time, and your career plans.

Juniors’ (ages 8–9) 4-H Stories can be no more than six handwritten pages in blue or black pen. Juniors (10 and 11), intermediates, and seniors may choose to use the computer to type the 4-H Story. If you do, the font type should be Times New Roman, 12-point, and double-spaced. Include only one 4-H Story in your record book.

The following outline may help in developing the 4-H story. It is divided into parts merely to help outline what you want to say about yourself. Don’t identify these parts in the story.

  1. “My 4-H (Fill the blank with the name of your main project.) Story”
  2. Part 1. Introduce yourself.
    1. Your age
    2. Your interests and/or hobbies
    3. Family (parents, guardians, brothers, and sisters)
    4. Where you live and go to school
    5. When and why you joined 4-H
  3. Part 2. Tell about your project area.
    1. How has 4-H helped you learn things about your project you didn’t know before?
    2. How has your project grown in size and scope?
    3. What new techniques have you tried?
    4. Were they successful or unsuccessful? Explain.
  4. Part 3. Highlight other 4-H projects and activities.
    1. What were some of your major learning experiences and special interests?
    2. Did you encounter unusual situations? If so, explain.
  5. Part 4. Tell about 4-H growth.
    1. Explain how 4-H has helped you become a better leader and citizen.
    2. How has 4-H increased your interest and participation in your community?
    3. What have you learned from team efforts?

Remember: Your 4-H story is limited to six handwritten (in blue or black ink pen) or typed double-spaced pages.

Section 5: 4-H Project Pictures

Photographs are limited to three 8½ x 11-inch pages showing various aspects of your main project. A short caption for each picture, giving the year and explaining what the picture is about, is helpful to the judging committee. Photographs should not be layered and should appear on only one side of the page. The only exception is for pictures submitted as part of the 4-H Photography Project. Photography records can have thirteen 8½ x 11-inch pages. The additional ten pages should show your work with the camera.

Submitting the Record

Senior and volunteer records are normally due July 1 of the current year. Junior and intermediate records are normally due 2–3 weeks after the senior and volunteer records. Check your county Extension office for county deadlines. All records must be submitted through the county Extension office.


The judging committee reviews the Record Books and judges them, based on certain criteria. Judges are given score sheets similar to the rubric on the next page of this publication, and they award points based on the proper percentage in the given categories.

Helpful Tips

  • When completing records, be consistent. Type or hand-write forms.
  • Never do a record in pencil. Only blue or black pen is acceptable. (Judges give penalty points.)
  • Correct grammar and spelling are required.
  • Information must be accurate and complete.
  • Whenever possible, dates that show current project work are helpful.


Junior Level (ages 8–11)

Records receiving blue ribbons in both junior age categories (8 & 9 and 10 & 11) are awarded cash, along with 4-H ribbons.

Intermediate Level (ages 12–14)

Intermediate records are judged and placed in a blue-, red-, or white-ribbon category. Records are then placed 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and so on and awarded cash based on the top three placing for each project category.

Senior Level (ages 15 through 18)

Senior records are judged and placed in a blue-, red-, or white-ribbon category. Records are then placed 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and so forth and awarded cash awards based on the top three placing for each project category.

Along with the ribbon and cash awards, winners in those project areas who have sponsors receive the opportunity to attend National 4-H Congress.

Special Note: Records in the “Other Project” category compete against each other for two additional trips to National 4-H Congress.

General Guidelines for 4-Members

When submitting an Achievement Record, report your major project in Section I of the Mississippi Report Form. Report all other projects in Section IV.

When submitting a Citizenship or Leadership record, do not complete No. 1 under Section I in the Mississippi Report Form. The size and scope of these projects are reported in Section II and III for Leadership and for Citizenship.

All Dairy records submitted are considered for both National 4-H Congress and National 4-H Dairy Conference. A 4-H’er may attend these events only once.

Records submitted that are handwritten should be written in blue or black ink. Mementoes should not be a part of the 4-H Member’s Record Book. Achievement ribbons, newspaper clippings, unrelated photographs, and certificates of honor can and should be preserved in a special 4-H memory scrapbook.

Remember, counties set their own Record deadlines, so make sure you submit Records to your Extension agent on time so that they can then be received at the state level in time for judging.

Signatures of parents, 4-H member, and Extension person in charge of 4-H are very important.

You can get 4-H Record Covers through your county Extension office at no charge. Or you can buy covers from the National 4-H Council’s 4-H Mall.

In the 4-H Project Pictures section, remember action photos are preferred, and it looks better when captions are typed if the rest of the Record Book is typed. It is also preferable to have a few pictures that pertain to other projects reported on in the record.

We encourage 4-H members to attend a 4-H Record Book workshop to learn all there is to know about 4-H Records.


Publication 2544 (POD-06-19)

Developed by John Long, PhD, Assistant Extension Professor, 4-H Youth Development.

Copyright 2019 by Mississippi State University. All rights reserved. This publication may be copied and distributed without alteration for nonprofit educational purposes provided that credit is given to the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Produced by Agricultural Communications.

Mississippi State University is an equal opportunity institution. Discrimination in university employment, programs, or activities based on race, color, ethnicity, sex, pregnancy, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, genetic information, status as a U.S. veteran, or any other status protected by applicable law is prohibited. Questions about equal opportunity programs or compliance should be directed to the Office of Compliance and Integrity, 56 Morgan Avenue, P.O. 6044, Mississippi State, MS 39762, (662) 325-5839.

Extension Service of Mississippi State University, cooperating with U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published in furtherance of Acts of Congress, May 8 and June 30, 1914. GARY B. JACKSON, Director

Department: Ctr 4-H Youth Development
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