“First you are a part of it, then it becomes a part of you.”
What better way to describe that inside “IT” factor that drives our 4-H Alumni to continue supporting our programming in order “To Make the Best Better.” In the case of the Walton County Cherokee Riders Horse Club, they are doubly blessed with two club leaders who are 4-H Alumni of that exact club!
Rebecca Morales and Ashly Rogers became involved in 4-H at ages 13 and 11 after their mother discovered a homeschool club in the community. Soon after joining they were addicted and became actively involved in other clubs involving horses, livestock, gardening, and county and district events. It has been a goal of both club leaders to have their club involved in as much community service and county events as possible. When asked what they enjoy most about their role, they stated “We enjoy giving back to our county 4-H. All of our 4-H leaders and agents spent their precious time pouring their knowledge into us kids. We hope to do the same for others. And we want our kids to experience 4-H the way we did.”
Inspiration is pivotal in volunteer retention within your program. Resources can be extreme or minimal but if there is inspiration within and for your volunteers then they will make miracles happen. When asked what inspires Rebecca and Ashly to continue their service as Club Leader they stated, “Partly because of the great example we had when we were young. Our 4-H Program Assistant Jamie spent so much time and effort making sure we had a well-rounded 4-H experience, and partly because we have a great 4-H agent who is so supportive and always brings her A game.” Jamie is a 4-H Alumni as well (featured here http://nwdistrict.ifas.ufl.edu/4hn/2016/04/11/4-h-grown-raised/ ) and I have had the opportunity as the 4-H Agent to see how she has positively influenced Rebecca and Ashly in their club management, program development, and community involvement.
As with paying jobs, the most frustrating task can be time management. This hurdle is no less stressful for the 4-H Volunteer who not only works their own job and has their own families but also has their “4-H family” to support as well. Rebecca and Ashly state that, “We do not think people understand how much 4-H volunteers give. We give up a lot of our free time, [but] even through all the hard times, in the end it is worth it. If we have made a difference in one kid’s life, it is worth every second.”
4-H has obviously influenced Rebecca and Ashly in many ways throughout their childhood which gave them the life skills needed to make healthy decisions as adults. In regards to what they believe 4-H has done for them, their club, and the community they stated,
“When you are in 4-H you really do learn so many life skills [such as] how to overcome difficult situations, how to work together with so many different personalities, public speaking, how to show and care for all livestock, and how to present yourself in a professional way. There are too many things that we could list, 4-H is just that great!”
It is an absolute privilege to have a group of talented alumni who are dedicated to give back to your program and your community. Alumni can be instrumental in broadening your capacity to reach all corners of your county! If you are an alumni interested in connecting to your 4-H family contqact your local UF IFAS Extension Office or visit these sites for more information:
Florida 4-H Alumni homepage: http://florida4h.org/alumni/
Florida 4-H Connections: http://florida4h.org/alumni1/FL4-HConnection.pdf