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4-H Youth Development

For Volunteer Parents, Coaches and Mentors

Volunteer coaches and mentors play a key role in the success of the Kansas 4-H Science of Agriculture Challenge. It's a chance for adult volunteers to practice positive youth development and help youth reach their full potential in a safe and welcoming environment.

What parent/guardian volunteers do:
  • Enroll youth in 4-H
  • Support team members
  • Work with coaches and mentors
  • Serve as a team coach and/or mentor


The role of a Coach is to inspire the team and help them get excited about the science of agriculture. Coaches give teams guidance and provide structure, encouragement, and most of all, a fun experience. They meet regularly with the team and guide them in developing goals and a timeline. The coach serves as the facilitator to help the team complete its work and improve the way team members work together. Coaches guide the process while the youth control the content.

What team coaches do:

  • Register the team online
  • Organize and attend team meetings
  • Guide the project learning process
  • Make sure the timeline is followed and deadlines are met
  • Work with the team to identify a mentor(s)
  • Chaperone the team at the state event


A mentor is any person who works with the team in his or her area of expertise for at least one team meeting, but the most effective mentor relationship is one that continues over time. Mentors help expose the team members to potential careers in addition to helping them learn the skills necessary to complete the SOAR Challenge. The most important quality for a mentor is someone who enjoys working with young people and wants them to learn. Talk to them about:
  • Adapting their knowledge to an appropriate level for the team members;
  • The team’s goals, the timeline, and structure of the meetings;
  • Guiding the team to find the answers to their own questions; and
  • The importance of acknowledging all team members, getting everyone to contribute and participate, providing positive feedback, and encouraging responses.
Potential sources for mentors might include:
  • Companies in your community. Many companies encourage their employees to volunteer, and some even have formal programs to match volunteers with groups in the community.
  • Commodity or agricultural-oriented organizations. Think about Farm Bureau, Farmers Union, commodity groups, agricultural Chambers of Commerce, etc.
  • Parents and relatives of your team members.

What team mentors do:

  • Provide expertise in their field of work
  • Offer project ideas
  • Teach, inspire and give feedback
  • Listen, guide and encourage the youth

Important dates

  • January-March 2020 - Teams form, identify their project topic, begin to research and develop solutions
  • April 15, 2020 - Final team registration deadline
  • September 18, 2020- Preliminary Presentations at Ag Innovation Day at Kansas State Fair 
  • November 14, 2020 - Science of Agriculture Challenge competition at Kansas State University

Ways to sign up

  • Already have your team? Here's the form for coaches to fill out.
  • Question? Contact Anissa Jepsen

Coach &  Mentor Resources

Working with your team:

Volunteer Position Descriptions:

Basic learning concepts, explained:

Presentations and Judging: