2022- Central District All Faculty Symposium – 4-H Youth Development
K.Henry, UF/IFAS Extension Seminole County, Sanford, FL.
Situation: The Seminole County 4-H program presented multiple opportunities for increased volunteer engagement. Rutledge (2008) presents four stages of Extension professionals with relation to volunteers: service, education, management, leadership. Many volunteers that were currently giving to the Seminole County 4-H program were functioning with a mindset of the service stage. In this stage Agents are seen as “the” program and program capacity is limited to what Agents can do themself. This stage reduces reach, diversity, and opportunity for education and positive youth development. In the education stage, Agents see their role as providing all the expertise needed to run their local program. In the management stage, Agents learn to do things through the work of others. In the leadership stage, the focus is on looking at the system to find new ways to expand the program in content, audience, and quality. Methods: Plans and systems were put in place to move the Seminole County 4-H program from the “service” stage to the “leadership” stage. Intentional recruitment was done to increase the diversity of the 4-H Advisory Committee including organizational representation, lived experience, geography, and age. The diversity of the committee provided new and different ideas. Trainings provided 4-H volunteers the tools and resources to increase knowledge and skills to achieve the program’s mission. Opportunities to practice leadership were also introduced, such as committee chair work and teaching youth in 4-H clubs. Results: These efforts increased the volunteer leadership, stakeholder engagement, and social capital of Seminole County 4-H as indicated through observational data. Strengthened relationships and capacity building for individuals and community organizations to partner with each other and UF/IFAS Extension has contributed to increased human resource development. Conclusion: Moving volunteers and staff from service to leadership creates a diverse and stainable county 4-H program.