Dr. Richard Clark
4- H membership continues until December 31 of the year in which a member graduates from high school. That means there will be numerous 4-H members which have reached the age of 18 before they complete their 4-H membership. While this has always been the case in Tennessee 4-H, new attention to risk management issues and the University of Tennessee policies related to “Minors on Campus” require us to pay special attention to these “adult” members.
The most important issue related to 18 year old members is overnight housing issues at 4-H events and activities. Housing 18 year old members in the same room with younger members sets up a situation where an adult is rooming with a youth and thus violates the Minors on Campus policies. This would be similar to the problem we would have if adult volunteers roomed in the same room with our 4-H members. Thus, when taking 18 year old youth on overnight trips, they should be roomed with other 18 year old members of the same gender. These 18 year old members should not be roomed with other adult staff or volunteers due to their 4-H membership status. I am working with our 4-H camps to deal with these housing situations while 18 year olds are at camp.
I am aware that this may cause increased lodging costs on trips but it is in the best interest of both the younger youth and the 18 year olds that we do not set ourselves up for potential problems or allegations regarding inappropriate behavior.
Thank you for your help in working with these housing restrictions.