The goal of 4-H is to teach youth life skills. In so doing, we find that we also equip them with marketable skills, a sense of belonging, and a sense of self-worth, each of which makes them more apt to be successful. However, besides the most obvious benefit that your volunteer services are to your local youth and community, there are benefits for you personally as well. In fact, studies indicate that individuals who volunteer, experience greater health benefits,1 and in some cases, that individuals can combat the onset of depression simply by volunteering.2 Additional personal benefits of volunteerism include increased social skills, and an expanded social network.
Another thing to consider is that by volunteering with 4-H you will have the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of children. This more than likely will trigger a sense of commitment, pride, and accomplishment in you which leads to a more positive self-image. The more positive your self-image, the more likely you are to set and accomplish positive personal goals, thus feeling a sense of accomplishment which creates a continuous circle of self-worth and confidence.
One of the most undervalued benefits of volunteering with 4-H is the time spent practicing the very life skills you are teaching through 4-H programming like communication, teamwork, and program planning. As you work with your youth to help them develop these life skills, you too are strengthening them in yourself. When they combine their increased life skills with taking part in the wide variety of training opportunities presented through 4-H, some volunteers may open new doors for employment based on the skills they have learned and developed.
In today’s time when families are busier than ever and time seems limited, having a positive adult role model can truly influence the path of youth. Volunteering with a 4-H program allows these positive impacts to occur. If you are already a 4-H volunteer, take pride in your contributions and reap the joy and benefits associated with such. If you are not currently a volunteer, the great news is that you do not have to look far to find a perfect match for your volunteer services…the Florida 4-H program welcomes you, and area 4-H Agents are eager to help you get started!
1 Dulin and Hill, 2003; Brown et al., 2005; Brown et al., 2003; Liang et al., 2001; Morrow-Howell et al., 2003; Midlarsky and Kahana, 1994; and Schwartz et al., 2003
2 Depression Alliance http://www.depressionalliance.org/latest-news/volunteering-combats-depression.php