New Wyoming Legislation Recognizes 4-H as Cocurricular Program, Allows Excused Absences

In Wyoming, 4-H is now considered a cocurricular activity, allowing members to obtain excused absences for participation in 4-H.

ten smiling people stand in a line with Wyoming's governor in the center holding a green sheet of paper. There is a large painting of cows in a gold frame hanging on the wall behind them and a low wooden table in front of them.
L-R: Senator Brian Boner, Representative Tomi Strock, Secretary of State Chuck Gray, Breah Rosner, Addysen Rosner, Governor Gordon, Kristi Nagy, Callie Rosner, Dawn Sanchez, Johnathan Despain. Photo by Crystal Rosner.

Wyoming House Bill 0175 states that Wyoming public school students engaged in “programming or competitions sponsored by nationally recognized organizations and clubs that promote youth agricultural education” are considered to be involved in a cocurricular program and therefore can receive excused absences for their participation.

Wyoming 4-H is the positive youth development program jointly funded by the University of Wyoming Extension and county commissions. The new statute will allow 4-H members to make up school assignments missed due to participation in hands-on learning experiences like visiting Congress, participating in the Wyoming State Fair, competing in national contests, and attending youth leadership conferences.

“This will support students and families engaged in 4-H learning activities, complementing formal classroom learning and contributing to the overall goal of positive youth development in public education,” says Johnathan Despain, state 4-H program coordinator.

The new statute does not alter the authority of local school boards. Each school district’s board creates parameters for what is considered an unexcused absence and what activities are considered cocurricular. The bill states that school districts are permitted to request verification of the reasons for a student’s absence.

House Bill 0175 goes into effect July 1, 2023.

The new legislation, which amended W.S. 21-3-110(a)(xxxix), was co-sponsored by Wyoming Representative Tomi Strock and Senator Brian Boner and signed into law by Governor Mark Gordon. Visit to read the statute in its entirety.

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