As springtime in Indiana brings flowers and sunshine, it also marks the start of Indiana 4-H animal projects. Youth in Indiana 4-H who participate in animal projects begin learning what it takes to raise a healthy animal — long hours and plenty of effort. This is why the Indiana 4-H Approved Animal Grooming Assistance Program was started. A 4-H member takes responsibility for caring for and grooming his or her own animals, but all youth need help with their animals from time to time. This program provides an avenue for equal access to qualified animal grooming assistance. Youth who enroll in it shouldn’t expect someone to do the work for them; but they can expect hands-on learning opportunities that further their skills and abilities.

What is the Indiana 4-H Approved Animal Grooming Assistance Program?Animal sheering training

Here is the Indiana State Fair animal grooming policy:

“4-H Exhibitors may receive clipping and grooming assistance from members of their immediate family (father, mother and siblings), from a current Indiana 4-H member, and from individuals enrolled in the Indiana 4-H Approved Animal Grooming Assistance Program. Temporary guardianships are not permitted and shall result in immediate disqualification.”

This policy allows anyone from Indiana who would like to assist 4-H members with their animals. You do not have to be a 4-H Volunteer to enroll in the program, nor does enrolling in it make you a 4-H Volunteer.

Once enrolled in the program, you will be able to assist any Indiana 4-H member from any county with any animal species. To assist for the State Fair, this application must be completed by July 1 annually, and the modules must be completed once every two years (starting April 2019).

To get the application, visit your local County Extension office or go online to the Indiana 4-H website.

What are the online Animal Ethics Program modules and where can I find them? Man and boy in bard with goat

Beginning this year, applicants must also complete the online Animal Ethics modules located here every two years. These four modules communicate the importance of providing a foundation for 4-H families and mentors for conversations about livestock ethics. They also help you understand why animal project rules are in place. After you complete the modules, you will enter your name and county of primary residence.

Why are these Animal Ethics modules a part of the Indiana 4-H Approved Animal Grooming Assistance Program?

4-H youth complete Youth for the Quality Care of Animal (YQCA) training, and Indiana 4-H believes it’s important for adults working alongside 4-H youth to have the same educational opportunity. These modules help to ensure that 4-H parents and adult mentors know they are representatives of a larger livestock industry. The modules also offer tools to communicate effectively with the public on behalf of the 4-H livestock community. Indiana 4-H animal projects ensure animals in the Indiana 4-H program are treated with the utmost care.

Girl in barn with calvesSteps for Becoming an Indiana 4-H Approved Animal Grooming Assistance Program Volunteer

  1. Read and become familiar with the grooming assistance program requirements.
  2. Complete the four online Animal Ethics modules once every 2 years (starting April 2019) located here:
  3. Annually submit the Indiana 4-H Approved Animal Grooming Assistance Program Application and a copy driver’s license to Courtney Stierwalt by July 1.

The program as described above is for the Indiana State Fair. While some counties will likely adopt this policy for their county fairs, the respective county fair boards and/or county 4-H councils make those decisions. Please check with your County Extension Office for your county fair rules.

We appreciate your interest in the 4-H program and the steps you are taking to make this a positive learning opportunity for youth in Indiana.

For more information about the Indiana 4-H program.

Courtney Stierwalt is a 4-H Extension Specialist for Purdue Extension. She provides leadership to the Indiana 4-H Animal Science projects and develops opportunities for Indiana 4-H youth to learn about animals and agriculture.

Arin Weidner is a 4-H Extension Specialist for Purdue Extension. She supports Indiana 4-H programming with the creation of technology-facilitated curriculum and learning opportunities through partnerships with Extension staff and faculty.