Volunteers are the Heart of 4-H
Volunteers are the Heart of the 4-H youth program in each of our counties, throughout Florida, and throughout the United States and worldwide. 4-H volunteers truly have the best interest of youth as their major consideration. After several years of working with 4-H volunteers in two different states, volunteers stated their reason for volunteering with 4-H is the joy of watching youth grow and mature into productive young adults. Comments from 4-H agents and volunteers from other states echoed the same reason for being a 4-H Volunteer and for continuing serving in a 4-H volunteer role years after their children were no longer in 4-H.
After several volunteer surveys through the years concerning what form of recognition preferred by 4-H volunteers, the number one answer was a thank you from the youth and county 4-H program. Our second top survey answer was a financial scholarship for special 4-H training on a district, state, regional, or national level. We sometimes think we need to lavish our volunteers with special awards, but sometimes just a heartfelt thank you and appreciation for their skills and commitment to the 4-H youth in their club, county, district, and even on the state level.
Value and appreciate your 4-H volunteers in your county. Keep them informed and involved of current opportunities for growth and development of their leadership skills. Be sure to design volunteer jobs to fit your volunteer’s special skills, interest, and knowledge. Use creativity when recruiting new 4-H volunteers. Think outside the “norm” for volunteers. There are many retired adults that would love to share their skills with 4-H youth. Look for teachers to share 4-H in the classroom. Look for coaches and physical education resources for healthy lifestyle mentors and/or volunteers. Don’t forget all those other volunteers in your Extension office, Master Gardeners, Home Community Educators, and Master Naturalists.
One of the great benefits of 4-H is that we can design a volunteer position to fit a volunteers needs and time commitment, from a special interest project of only six hours to a volunteers that continues to serve twenty years after her children graduate from 4-H. 4-H is a place for every child and for every volunteer to grow in a safe environment. Thanks to all our volunteers in the North West District.
Kay D Brown