Alternatively: download a printable Cascade County 4-H Leaders Council Operating Policy. Exhibits available upon request.

This handbook expresses the policies and procedures for the Cascade County 4-H program. The following policies are in effect for all persons associated with the Cascade County 4-H program. The purpose of this policy statement is to ensure that the 4-H program is inclusive rather than exclusive. Hereafter in this document, Cascade County 4-H Leaders Council will be referred to as Council.

4-H is the youth education program of the Montana State University Extension, cooperating with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and local county governments. The MSU Extension Cascade County 4-H Agents have the ultimate responsibility for the leadership of the 4-H program at the county level, and have final authority in matters of conduct, discipline, health, and safety in connection with 4-H members and 4-H leaders. Clubs, members, and leaders which refuse to follow state and/or county policies will be prohibited from operating under the name of 4-H and emblem. Montana 4-H Policy is attached as
Exhibit A.

Organization of Clubs

Regularly organized clubs will hold their organizational meeting during the fall of the year. Enrollment for members who are renewing membership are due in the Extension Office by December 15 of each year. May 1 is the deadline for project changes, drops or additions.

New 4-H clubs can organize up to December 1 of each year.

New members enrolling as traditional 4-H members are accepted until April 30 of each year. Youth enrolling in non-traditional programs may enroll at any time. (Ex: afterschool, in-school, day camp, and overnight camp programs)

One adult club leader and one youth club member should actively and consistently participate in 2/3 of regularly scheduled Council meetings (no less than 4 meetings.)

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Dues are $6.00 per for a returning leader with no break in service. Dues for new leaders and leaders with a break in service are $36.00, of which $6.00 is for dues and $30.00 for the background check. All dues are subject to change as determined by Montana State 4-H Council.

Dues are $10.00 for members and $10.00 for Cloverbuds. 4-H member dues will be reassessed each year and shall be paid to the Council.

The leader/member dues must be paid in order to be a voting member of the Council.

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Regular 4-H Clubs

To be identified as a regular 4-H Club in good standing the following criteria will need to be fulfilled:

  1. Enroll at least 5 youth members from at least 3 families.
  2. Select youth officers or youth leaders to provide leadership to the club.
  3. Conduct a minimum of 6 regular club meetings per year, and, often supplemented by project meetings, camps, fairs, and other 4-H learning activities.
  4. Meet in any location – a home, community center, military installation, library, public housing site, school, afterschool program, and/or many other places.
  5. Is advised by adult staff or volunteers who have been screened and trained.
  6. Submit a year program plan to the Extension Office.
  7. Set annual club goals and evaluate progress toward those goals.
  8. Plan an education, experientially-based program.
  9. Abide by and follow 4-H policies and procedures.
  10. Is involved in community services activities.
  11. Keep records of club activities.
  12. Support the values and ethics of the 4-H program and positive youth development.
  13. Must participate in Cascade County 4-H Council fundraisers (See Fundraising).
  14. Each club’s Annual Summary Financial Report, Club Summary and any supporting documents are due to the MSU County Extension office by October 25 of each year.

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Club Accounts

Club accounts should be set up using the 4-H tax-free ID number assigned to that individual club. There must be more than one signature on the club accounts. One of the signatures should be the 4-H member who is serving as the club treasurer. All signatories on the account must be a currently enrolled member or leader in the current 4-H year. The member should have the learning experience of doing the club treasurer’s books. A treasurer's report showing the income and expenses for the month should be given at the meeting each month. The club treasurer will use the Montana 4-H Treasurers Record Book, which is available at the Extension Office.

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Handling Funds from Disbanded Clubs

Any 4-H club or group that disbands with money left in its account must turn those funds over to the Council within a minimum of six (6) months after disbanding. All property belonging to the club must be disbursed in the same manner. Club members may request that money be used for specific 4-H programs within the club, county, or state. This request, acted upon by the Council in cooperation with the Extension Agent responsible for 4-H Youth Programs at the same time of club dissolution, must be documented in the Council minutes.

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Handling Funds from Clubs that Split

If a club or group decides to divide itself (because it has become too large or meeting schedules do not work for all members) and is creating more than one recognized and properly registered club or group; the funds from the original club must be evenly disbursed, based on membership, in each club. Dollars are not to be disbursed to members on an individual basis.

If a portion of the club membership voluntarily decides to leave an existing club and form a new club, the members of the old club may choose, by voting, to provide the new club with a portion of the funds from the original club. However, any sub-group that decides to leave an existing club is not automatically entitled to any funds from the original club. Leaving an existing club to start a new club relinquishes any claim to funds from the original club, regardless of the amount of previous fundraising efforts provided by individual members. 4-H monies do not belong to individuals. A final report of how proceeds are split should be reported to the Council for documentation in the Council minutes.

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Membership/Age Requirements

  • Youth age 5 on October 1 may join the 4-H Cloverbud Program. Cloverbuds are a non-competitive education program for youth ages 5 to 8 years old. Cloverbuds cannot enroll in regular 4-H projects but are encouraged to join a club.
  • Youth age 8 on October 1 may join a regular 4-H club as a full member who can enroll in several different project areas. Given the differing maturity and ability of youth this age, a family may choose to have their child continue in Cloverbuds group even though a person will turn 8 the during the coming year. If a youth turns 19 years of age prior to the beginning of the program year (October 1) a person is not eligible to re-enroll in 4-H unless still in high school.
  • Individuals older than 18 years of age who have special needs are eligible to participate in 4- H provided they are still enrolled in high school.
  • 4- H membership is open to all eligible youth. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Montana State University prohibit discrimination in all their programs and activities based on race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital and family status.
  • In recognition of the educational and developmental needs of youth, a general guideline is listed below to help determine which level of projects a youth might be enrolled in based on age.
Classifications Age Range
Cloverbud 5-7 years old as of October 1
Junior/Intermediate 8-13 years old as of October 1
Senior 14-19 years old as of October 1

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To be identified as a volunteer 4-H Leader in Cascade County, an individual must enroll online through ZSuite and pass the background check.

Leaders can be 4-H Organizational Leader, 4-H Project Leader, 4-H Activity Leader or Key Leader as outlined in the Montana 4-H Program Policies and Procedures. Exhibit A

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Cascade County 4-H Ambassadors

A 4-H Ambassador is an official envoy, an authorized representative of our Cascade County 4-H Program. A 4-H Ambassador is a self-motivated, enthusiastic leader who promotes 4-H using the skill, knowledge and leadership abilities acquired in 4-H with fellow members, are residents, community leaders, elected officials and non 4-H youth. A 4-H Ambassador serves to strengthen the 4-H program through public relations. Refer to Exhibit B for guidelines for Cascade County 4-H Ambassadors.

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Budget Policy

Expenses that are a part of the Council budget will be reimbursed by turning in receipts or invoices in addition to the Expenditure form to the Council Treasurer. See Exhibit C for a sample of the Expenditure Form.

Expenses in excess or not included in a budget or policy shall come before the Council for approval. Each committee will provide an itemized budget to the Treasurer.

The Budget Committee presents the final draft of the budget for approval at the November Council meeting. Upon completion of the budget process, annual budget needs plus 10% for contingency will be retained and the balance of excess funds will be dispended to the Cascade 4-H Foundation by November 30 of each year.

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The Council will act as a repository when fees and funds are collected and disbursed for county events such as the archery projects, baby blanket project, camp, exchange, etc. It will also be used to collect income and pay expenses from proceeds of fundraising activities.

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4-H Member Financial Assistance

Any Cascade County 4-H member in need of financial assistance for a Cascade County 4-H event or activity may apply for 4-H Member Financial Assistance. The Financial Assistance application must be turned in to the MSU Cascade County Extension Office no later than one week before the event or activity. 4-H Member Financial Assistance applications will be voted on by the Executive Committee. 4-H Member Financial Assistance will not exceed $50 per application. Applicants should ideally bear some of the cost of the event or activity.

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State Leaders Forum

The Council will appoint a Council member to represent the Council at the Annual State 4-H Council meeting held during the State 4-H Leaders Forum.

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Cascade County Leaders Training

Council, in conjunction with the Extension Office, may conduct annual leaders training to all enrolled volunteer leaders in Cascade County at any time during the 4-H year.

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Record Books

Record books are required of all members and for all projects. Refer to Exhibit D for guidance on record books.

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County Award Selection

Awards based on club membership will not include Cloverbud members. A club must have 5 members over the age of 9 (by October 1 of the current 4-H year) to be considered for an award. (Example Ted Fosse demonstration, Dan Thurber speech)

  1. All members who pay dues will be eligible for awards on the county level.
  2. The Record Book and Achievement Committee will be made up of representatives from each club wishing to participate in the county awards program. The Record Book and Achievement Committee will decide procedure for selection of county awards.
  3. Friend of 4-H Awards can be given to individuals or businesses which have supported 4-H. All leaders may nominate someone for this award. Nominations must be made by September 25 annually. A committee of the MSU Extension agents involved in 4-H will make the selection.
  4. 4-H Alumni Awards will be given to individuals who are former 4-H members or leaders but are not currently enrolled in 4-H. All leaders may nominate someone for this award. Nominations must be made by September 25 annually. A committee of the MSU Extension agents involved in 4-H will make the selection.
  5. The 25-year awards are given at Achievement Night. A current list of 25-Year Leader Awards is Exhibit E.

Each leader who has completed 25 years of service as a leader is to have an award named in their honor. This award is to be given in a field selected by the 25-year leader. The criteria for selection and the recognition item to be presented will be outlined by the 25-year leader.

Each 25-Year Leader Award will be financed by the Cascade 4-H Leaders Council for an amount not to exceed $25.00 per award. The award will continue for each 25-year leader until 3 years after that person is no longer a leader.

The Record Book and Achievement Committee will make the 25-year leader award selections.

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The Montana 4-H Foundation

The Montana 4-H Foundation, founded in 1969, serves as a non-profit corporation supporting the continued development and growth of the statewide 4-H program. The generous support of donors, volunteers, businesses, and community partners helps make possible the many opportunities available to 4-H youth and leaders.

Individual 4-H Clubs, members, and families are encouraged to support the Montana 4-H Foundation and the Cascade 4-H Foundation.

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Club Banner

Each club should display a club banner in their exhibit area at State Fair. The banner should be pre-approved by the MSU Extension Cascade County 4-H Agent. The banner should follow the state and national guidelines for the use of the 4-H name and emblem. The Name and Emblem Criteria Checklist can be found at Exhibit I.

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Members will be asked to participate at the level of sales established by the Council, or donate an amount set at the time of the fundraiser if the need for county wide fundraising is determined. Clubs may receive a percentage of the fundraiser, as established by the Council.

All 4-H members are required to participate in Council fundraising events, especially if the member wishes to participate in county-sponsored events. County-sponsored events may include: County Awards, 4-H Camp, Citizenship Interviews and trips, Congress, Project Days, Livestock Judging events, Ambassadors, Exchange, Leaders Training, and any other event funded by or through a committee or Council line item budget. Any exceptions from the above-stated policy must be approved by the Executive Committee of the Council and the MSU Extension Cascade County 4-H Agent.

The Council shall operate within a flexible budget based on the county fundraising events. A proposed budget from the fundraising committee shall be submitted for approval at the November Council meeting. Individual committees, within the Council, wishing to raise funds for a specific purpose may only do so with the approval of the Council. Fundraising Approval form is attached as Exhibit F.

In general, all fundraising net proceeds will first be used to fund the annual budget of the Council plus 10% for overages and then the balance will be transferred to the Cascade 4-H Foundation to cover operating expenses for the program year.

Montana 4-H does not condone nor support 50/50 type fundraisers or raffles. These kinds of fundraisers are not to be conducted under the auspices of 4-H nor be associated with the 4-H name and emblem.

The purpose of conducting raffles other than 50/50 under the name of 4-H should be to support the educational programs of 4-H. Funds raised under the name of 4-H, belong to 4-H, and must be used only for the 4-H program and its participants. As a guideline, 4-H clubs should be conducting raffles only where a product is awarded to the winner, not cash. Products should be of good quality and represent the organization well.

Ice Cream Booth

Each club is required to work shifts during the Montana State Fair. A 6:1 ratio of active members 11 years old and over will be used to determine the number of shifts each club is responsible for. For example, a club with 12 members will be required to work 2 shifts, and a club with 48 members will be required to work 8 shifts. Larger clubs are given the option to split their membership between their required shifts.

Minimum age is 11 as of the date of the Montana State Fair to work in the booth.

There must be 3 adults and 4-7 members present in the booth for each shift.

It is mandatory that all 4-H clubs in Cascade County take an active part in working the Ice Cream Booth during the Montana State Fair. Failure to meet this responsibility may result in the club and/or individual members losing the right to participate in Council /Foundation sponsored events for the next year.

Ten percent of the net proceeds from the ice cream booth will be paid to the leaders that are the managers of the booth. Proceeds are split equally among the managers. Net proceeds less the managers 10% will be used for the Council’s budgetary needs in accordance with the Budget Section of the Operating policy.

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Many of the 4-H activities and events have deadlines for registration in order to participate. The following guidelines will be followed:

  1. Applicants with incomplete, inaccurate, etc. entries will be contacted by phone, mail, or e-mail so that the details can be worked out.
  2. Applicants are required to complete or correct the application or entry form and return it immediately to the Extension Office.
  3. If for some reason an individual knows they cannot make a county deadline they should do the following:
    1. Call the Extension Office ahead of the deadline and notify the office that he/she cannot meet the deadline. The applicant will be advised when or if he/she will be able to complete the application or entry form on an individual basis.
    2. Many deadlines may include a postmark and a late fee. Check with your local Postal service to see when your mail is postmarked.
  4. A state-established deadline cannot be changed by the Cascade County Extension Office. A late entry may result in disqualification from the event.
  1. All registration forms must be turned in to the Cascade County Extension Office (not Chairpersons or Leaders) by the deadline during normal business hours.
  2. Montana State Fair entry deadlines are as stated in the fair book. NO EXCEPTIONS.
  3. Applications/Registration Forms will be date stamped by the Extension Office and a receipt provided.

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Cascade County 4-H members traveling out-of-county as a delegation requires the MSU Extension 4-H Agent to approve the driver of the vehicle. The driver must be a currently enrolled 4-H leader and must be over 21 years of age.

4-H members may not transport other 4-H members except for their siblings.

A medical authorization form is required for members and leaders serving as chaperones to participate in any activities when travel and overnight stays are involved. One copy of the completed medical authorization form should be kept with the member. One copy should be kept with the adult responsible for the member for the duration of the event and for travel to and from the event.

For out-of-county trips, the 4-H members, parents or guardians, and the chaperone must be present at the trip orientation session. Exceptions must be approved by MSU Extension Cascade County 4-H Agent.

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All members and leaders enrolled in the Cascade County 4-H program are insured with limited coverage by American Income Life Insurance IF the 4-H program signed up for it. The Council covers the cost of medical insurance ($1.00) for each registered member and leader while participating in or attending regularly approved and adult-supervised group activities. It provides up to $2,500 in medical coverage and the exact parameters are listed on their website. Certified 4-H leaders automatically have $750,000 in liability coverage through the State of Montana. It covers leaders whenever they volunteer in the name of 4-H including road time to and from events. It is not medical coverage. For more information contact the MSU Extension Cascade County 4-H Agent.

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There must be a chaperone from each gender represented in the county delegation. Exceptions for small delegations would be at the discretion of the MSU Extension Cascade County 4-H Agent. The ratio of members to chaperones is 8:1.

Chaperones must be at least 21 years of age, be an active Cascade 4-H leader with a clear background check.

Chaperones shall follow the Code of Conduct for 4-H events as recognized in the Montana 4-H Policy. Exhibit A

Expense reimbursement is outlined in Council Budget Section of the Operating Policy for travel within the county and Cascade 4-H Foundation Operating Policy for out-of-county travel.

Chaperone selection will be based on the following criteria

  • If a leader has served in a leadership role within a county contest, they will be given priority to be the chaperone.
  • Selection criteria will include the credentials that the leader has for the program. (Example: the leader would be willing to teach a class or has specialized training in the area.)

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4-H Camp

Any regular member of 4-H may go to 4-H camp. Cloverbud members may not attend 4-H Camp.

Members must be 13 or older by the first day of camp to be a Junior Director.

All Junior Directors must have attended camp at least one year as a camper before applying to be a Junior Director.

A limit of 140 people, including all campers, Junior Directors, Chaperones, and 4-H agents will be set for 4-H Camp. When more than 140 applications are received, all names received beyond the maximum amount will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis to fill any vacancies which occur.

Chaperones will be selected based on the Council’s Chaperone policy.

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Montana 4-H Congress

Participation in Montana 4-H Congress shall be determined as follows:

Qualification at county contests enables 4-H members to attend Congress in a specific contest area.

To be selected for overall participation, members not qualifying in a contest area who desire to attend Congress may attend based on the criteria as outlined below:

  1. Members must have participated in at least one of the qualifying contests. Selection will be based on an application and an interview process.
  1. Sign up to help with a contest rather than compete in a contest. A member may attend Congress via this process only 1 time.
  1. Attend as a delegate by attending workshops rather than contests.

4-H members 13 years old by October 1 of the current 4-H year are eligible to attend 4-H Congress.

Selection of 4-H Congress delegates will be based upon Montana State 4-H guidelines in the following contests:

  • Quilt Show
  • Fashion Revue
  • Communications Contest (excluding Cowboy Poetry)
  • Gavel Games
  • Stir-ups
  • Horse Judging
  • Livestock Judging
  • Hippology

Refer to Opportunities & Events Handbook for more contest information. Exhibit G

Members attending 4-H Congress may participate in only one competitive event.

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Communication Contest Day

Any 4-H member 13 years and older, unable to attend Communication Contest Day due to an emergency may arrange to present his or her presentation at an alternate date. Members must turn their application in on time. The MSU Extension Cascade County 4-H Agent will approve the absence on an individual basis.

Members 13 years and older who did not receive a blue ribbon at the county Communication Contest may return at an alternate date to present again. The exception to this would be if the Cascade 4-H Foundation limits the number of members that can attend Congress in a contest.

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Committee Guidelines

Council will have two types of committees: subcommittees, and chartered committees. The Council will put together guidelines outlining suggested requirements pertaining to the subcommittees. These guidelines are subject to change and must be voted on by the Council.
Examples of subcommittees are: Executive, Nominating, Grievance, Foods & Nutrition, Record Book & Achievement, Fundraiser(s) and others.

Chartered committees must have officers, bylaws, an operating policy, and have regular meetings. Neither the bylaws nor the operating policies shall supersede the Bylaws and Operating Policy of the Council.

Cascade County 4-H Livestock Leaders, Cascade County 4-H Horse Leaders, and Cascade County 4-H Shooting Sports Leaders are separate decision-making chartered committees.

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4-H Interstate Exchange

The goal of the Montana 4-H Program is to “educate youth and adults for living in a global and ever-changing world.” The Interstate Exchange program is available for this purpose. Members must:

  1. Be 13 years of age as of October 1 of the year the member applies.
  2. Be actively enrolled in 4-H.
  3. Complete and turn in all required forms.
  4. Attend at least 2/3 of the meetings for exchange.
  5. Attend at least 2/3 of the functions and projects.
  6. Commit to a 2-year term host/travel alternate year.
  7. Complete the Exchange project book upon completion of the exchange program.
  8. Read and agree with the "Interstate Exchange and Hosting Recommended Best Practices" available at the 4-H Extension office.

A non-refundable deposit in the amount of $50.00 must be paid to start the Exchange program. If the member drops out of the program for any reason, it will not be refunded to the member.

Delegate Application, code of conduct, and Interstate Exchange Commitment forms will need to be completed. Forms are available on the Extension website located here: Twenty spots are available with a minimum of 12 youth and 3 chaperones are required to activate the Exchange group. If enough youth do not sign up, Exchange members can work with a contiguous county to obtain a large enough group to run the program.

Council will donate $1,000 each year to be divided among Exchange members/chaperone who worked one extra shift in the Ice Cream Booth in addition to their club shift(s).

Fundraising opportunities will be available for exchange members and chaperones. Fundraising opportunities include spice sales, KMON Lunch, May Fair, Bagging Groceries, Eagle Lodge Breakfast, and others as needed. Proceeds earned from the fundraisers will be used for the expenses of the program and will be divided equally among the members/chaperones for those who participate.

Parents and siblings helping at fundraisers will not receive any of the proceeds from the fundraiser. The only exception is if a sibling or parent is substituting for the member who is absence for a pre-approved reason from the MSU Extension Cascade County 4-H Agent.

Funds from fundraising will be held by the Council for each member during the Exchange program. Funds will be used for the cost of the trip. If there is an excess of funds at the completion of the two-year exchange program, proceeds can then be used for other 4-H expenses that member may incur. If no longer a member, that member’s proceeds go back to the Council for future Exchange expenses.

If you drop out of the Exchange program due to reasons within your control, you are not able to take the money raised for the trip with you. It will be donated to the Exchange program to pay for a group activity.

If the Exchange program is not able to be completed due to reasons beyond the member's control, which will be determined by the County Agent, the money raised will be disbursed as follows:

  1. Money contributed from personal funds will be refunded to the member.
  2. Money obtained by Exchange fundraisers will be retained in the member’s 4-H account and will be used to pay for 4-H events for that member. This may be for a future Exchange trip or for costs for County or State events such as 4-H Congress or 4-H Camp fees for that member.
  3. Non-refundable deposit of $50.00, is used as outlined in item 2 above.
  4. If the 4-H member is a senior in high school and is not eligible to complete the Exchange program, remaining funds after items 1-3 are completed will be issued in the form of a scholarship for higher education for that member. The checks will be made payable to the member and the college that they plan to attend. If a member does not plan to attend college the proceeds will be used for continued educational purposes for that member. Examples of this will be continuing educational classes made available in the local community, or other costs as presented by the member to better their careers. This will be determined acceptable by the Executive Committee of the Council.

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Grievance Procedure

For those who feel aggrieved due to some action in the Cascade 4-H program, the following steps must be taken:

  1. A written statement of the grievance shall be filed by the party/(ies) grieving a process or decision. The statement should include the following information:
    1. The date of the incident.
    2. The name(s) of the people filing the grievance.
    3. A complete statement describing the incident including all facts upon which the complaint is based.
    4. Any rules, regulations, policies or procedures that have been violated, if any.
    5. List of the names and addresses (preferable with phone numbers) of people who have been involved in the incident and their role as well as a detailed timeline of events.
    6. Signatures of those submitting the grievance.
  2. Grievance Committee and their duties:
    1. The committee will consist of the MSU Extension Cascade County 4-H Agent who is the appropriate agent for the grievance, and the Executive Board of the Council.
    2. Narrow and define the issues related to the incident.
    3. Gather information related to the incident which may include identifying and obtaining input from people reviewing the documents.
    4. Identify other processes deemed necessary by the committee.
    5. Prepare recommendations for the resolution of the grievance. The recommendations will be non-binding and no testimony used by the grievance process may be used for other purposes.

The grievance statement should be filed with the MSU Extension Cascade County 4-H Agent, who will then contact the other Grievance Committee members to complete the process.

Grievance documents received by the Grievance Committee are considered confidential information. All members should not share them without the permission of the author and in consultation with the Montana State 4-H Center. The intent of the grievance may be summarized and shared but sensitive information, or that which may cause harm to individuals, should be protected.

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Policy and Procedure

The Council Operating Policy is reviewed annually. A Policy Committee, consisting of representatives of the various project committees and other interested individuals, is named by the President at the July Council meeting. Input from 4-H program participants should be directed to the Policy Committee prior to its annual policy review meeting. The Committee presents the final draft of the policy for approval at the September Council Meeting. If necessary, the Operating Policy may be amended at any regular meeting of the Council provided the amendment has been submitted and read at the previous meeting OR has been distributed to each Council voting member in writing electronically at least two weeks prior to the meeting. A quorum must be present. A two-thirds (2/3) vote of those present is required to amend the Operating Policy.

The Montana 4-H Policy supersedes the Cascade County 4-H Leaders Council Operating Policy and must be followed by all 4-H members and 4-H leaders. Montana 4-H Policy is attached as Exhibit A.

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Cascade County 4-H Leaders Council Operating Policy - revised  January 12, 2021

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Montana State University and the Montana State University Extension Service prohibit discrimination in all of their programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability,