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People choose to volunteer for a multitude of reasons.  In the case of Wakulla County 4-H volunteer Greg James,  there seem to be few reasons why he wouldn’t want to volunteer to meet a need in his community – especially if it helps youth.

Why Greg Volunteers

“Volunteering in my community is very important to me. I believe serving your community in some fashion helps create a sense of pride, belonging and ownership. I think it’s important to provide our children a positive environment in which to grow. Volunteering for 4-H allows me to foster that environment.”

Man and girl on the set of a TV show to promote a 4-H event.

Greg James joined a 4-H Club member to promote an upcoming community event.

Thirty Years of Investment 

While Greg (and his wife of close to 30 years, Karen) live in Sopchoppy, there are few areas of the county where Greg’s volunteerism has not had an impact.  While Greg and Karen’s children have grown up and left the county to pursue college and careers, involvement with area youth has remained a constant in his life since moving to the county in 1995.

In his professional life, Greg wears two hats – he serves as the Wakulla County Finance Director and the Deputy Clerk of Court.  Some community members may know him best as the minister of the Sopchoppy Church of Christ.

On almost any given day, Greg can found serving his community – as a volunteer cross country coach, stirring a pot at a Low Country Boil charity event, cleaning up the coastline or lending time to a local civic committee.  For the last two years, Greg has served in a leadership role with the Wakulla County 4-H and Extension Advisory Councils, and he started a 4-H Finance Club last summer to help local teens learn financial management skills.

Hands On Leadership 

Youth showing a chicken to a man.

Greg observes a 4-H Poultry Club member demonstrate chicken handling at a community event.

In service to 4-H, Greg give his financial expertise and his hands – figuratively and literally. To celebrate the success of the 4-H Chicken Champs Club, he made people-sized chicken figures that have become a popular photo opportunity at 4-H events. His most recent undertaking is still in progress – refurbishing old metal bleachers by hand for the 4-H Archery Club range.

Sali Polotov, a Future Leaders Exchange Program student from Tajikistan, is a member of the 4-H Finance Club and shared his thoughts on learning with Greg as club leader.  “He is a great leader and speaker. Every time I go to Finance Club, I explore something new. He explains difficult things so easily. Also, he has a great collection of foreign coins!

Greg wasn’t introduced to 4-H until his own children were growing up and completed swine projects.  “Now that I know all of the great programs 4-H offers, I wish I had been more involved.”

As a volunteer leader, Greg also works to recruit more volunteers to help grow 4-H programs. His advice to anyone who thinks they might want to volunteer is simple – “Don’t wait!”

Make a Difference with 4-H – Volunteer

Greg said, “I would ask that (people) stop thinking about it and just do it!  Our 4-H program depends heavily on volunteers, and what we are able to accomplish is only limited by the number and caliber of our volunteers. Please volunteer and make a positive impact on your community and our kids!”

For more information on how to become a 4-H volunteer in your community, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office.  To see how 4-H is positively impacting the lives of Panhandle youth, follow us on Facebook.

awards event

Greg James prepares to swear in new 4-H Association leaders for 2019.

Additional Resources:

Rachel Pienta

Dr. Rachel Pienta serves as the 4-H Agent in Wakulla County.