The uniqueness of today brings forth a changing world with new opportunities to grow. Individuals are seeking ways to help make positive changes in themselves, in each other, and in their communities. One way people are finding to make these changes is through volunteering their time, skills, and support with 4-H. 4-H volunteers are the caring adult role models that utilize a learn-by-doing approach to help youth evolve into more creative, independent, and forward thinking leaders.
4-H volunteers serve in a variety of capacities based on their interests, skills, and time constraints. Some serve as club leaders for our local 4-H clubs. Other volunteers help with organizing events, judging competitive events, and serving as advisors on boards and committees. Because 4-H offers such a wide variety of events and activities, there are opportunities that can fit every individual’s personal goals, schedules, and needs.
New World, New Opportunities
Opportunities for people to volunteer have evolved even further in today’s world. Everyone has always considered volunteering as an “in-person” role. Although the in-person volunteer is still very much in demand and invaluable to the 4-H organization, another volunteer role has emerged – the virtual volunteer. With the covid-19 pandemic, the role of the virtual volunteer has made it possible for many more individuals that normally could not volunteer in-person, be able to contribute their talents and time. Whereas covid-19 may have restricted physical distancing, the internet has removed geographical limitations and opened doors to new volunteer roles for a larger, more diverse audience.
The virtual 4-H volunteer is an exciting alternate opportunity for many. The goals of creating a safe environment, promoting a sense of belonging, and teaching youth essential life skills are still the primary goals of the virtual 4-H volunteer. The only main difference in opportunity is the delivery mode. Through new, modernized delivery modes such as virtual club meetings, social media outlets, and pre-recorded sessions, the traditional 4-H program has become more current and efficient for the modern youth and his/her family as well as the volunteers, allowing additional opportunities to expand the 4-H program. Some 4-H programs have been converted to online programs to continue providing quality programming and meet the needs of all individuals. 4-H has been and continues to be a program that is available to young people in all U.S. states, U.S. territories and U.S. military installations worldwide, regardless of gender, race, creed, color, religion, or disability. Regardless if an individual chooses to become an in-person or virtual 4-H volunteer, the mission of every 4-H volunteer is the same – to help ignite a spark in each youth to find what inspires them in order to carry out 4-H’s belief in “making the best better.”
It’s Time to Become a 4-H Volunteer!
There is no need to let the pandemic stop you from engaging in giving back when you have the opportunity to make a difference in your own community –in-person or virtually! 4-H is always seeking positive adult role models to serve in a variety of ways. Volunteers have the flexibility to determine the amount of time given, location and subject area they prefer. Volunteers will receive full assistance from their local 4-H Office to include trainings, office support, resources, and materials.
To learn more about becoming a 4-H volunteer, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office or visit http://florida4h.org.
*“Please note some pictures were taken prior to our challenges with Covid-19 and we remind people to social distance and wear a mask for the personal safety of self and others.”
Trent Grimes, 4-H Senior
Trent Grimes joined 4-H in 2012 to be able to spend some extra time with his friend, Kyle. Trent joined the Santa Rosa County 4-H Club, Bockin’ -N- Eggs 4-H when he was 11 years old. What began as a poultry club quickly became a livestock club focused on community service, so Kyle and Trent had a fascinating first community service project assisting the Panhandle Equine Rescue with a no-cost castration clinic. On that first community service project day, Trent and his club helped with 28 procedures that day! There’s a story to tell about that event, for sure, but we will leave that for another time. From that day on, Trent has had a passion for 4-H and community service.
Trent has been a vital part of many events on the county, district, and state levels. Trent has even participated in a community service project for youth in foster service in Tennessee for the last three years. When asked about his time in 4-H, Trent replied, “My experience in 4-H has been awesome. I have been able to see places and meet people that I wouldn’t have normally been able to. I have always enjoyed 4-H University, and I have mowed a lot of grass to be able to go every year!”
Trent is referring to one of the primary skills membership in 4-H has given him. Trent is a young entrepreneur and has been able to finance many of his statewide 4-H trips by mowing the neighbors’ lawns. As the years have gone by, Trent has been able to increase his clientele of Grimes Grass, his landscaping company. Currently, Grimes Grass has 31 clients.
Trent Grimes has always had a heart for service. He serves with his 4-H club and family to assist with the annual Veteran’s Day Cookout, where together, Santa Rosa County 4-H holds a cookout for 400-500 Veterans and their families. Trent also serves on the Florida 4-H State Executive Board, where he can help plan multiple statewide events. His heart of service does not end with 4-H; he serves his senior class at West Florida Baptist Academy as the Senior Class President. Through 4-H, Trent has learned public speaking skills, communication skills, and excellent organization skills. After graduation, Trent will continue to pursue more customers for Grimes Grass and build his business. As any true fan of the University of Florida, he hopes to fulfill his dreams of someday working at a gator farm.
Trent is just one of the many outstanding 4-H members in Santa Rosa County and across the state of Florida that has served his 4-H club and community well. Where his 4-H journey has brought him over the course of eight years will help him to navigate along the new path for the many years to come, confident with the various essential life skills he has learned along the way.
To find out more information about 4-H programs that can offer essential life skills such as independence, organizational skills, and goal setting, to your children or to volunteer with 4-H, please contact your local UF/ IFAS County Extension Office.
Special thanks to Prudence Caskey, UF/IFAS Santa Rosa County 4-H Agent, for providing this article and pictures.
Often times we think of 4-H programming in the traditional context of agricultural education through school and community clubs. What we often forget is how diverse an audience the 4-H program actually serves. Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola is the home to two youth centers, the NAS Pensacola Youth Center and the Corry Station Youth Center. Every day the staff of these centers welcome and care for military youth in their charge. The staff at these centers work diligently to incorporate 4-H programming into their centers, serving as 4-H screened and trained volunteers. They provide the youth they serve a myriad of opportunities to develop life skills as well as give back to their community.
Youth participate in a workshop led by Santa Rosa County Horticulture Agent, Matt Lollar, during the Try a Day of Camp designed to provide youth a one day introduction experience to the Florida 4-H residential camping program.
The NAS Pensacola 4-H club and the Corry Station 4-H club offer their youth a chance to engage in all aspects of 4-H programming. While some youth may be involved in the 21 day long embryology project, others may be focused on the archery programs, or maybe they are even doing both! Youth from these centers are often engaged in community service projects like volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House or collecting various items for those in need. Not to mention the grilling, hay bale decorating, and fair entries OH MY! To make a complete list of the projects the youth at these centers are involved in would be… exhausting! These clubs facilitate high quality programming through the dedication of the staff at these centers. Without them, these programs would not exist.
Breaking the Mold
NAS Pensacola 4-H Club placed second in the 2019 Escambia County 4-H hay bale decorating contest.
While one might have the mental image of a 4-H volunteer being a parent or relative of a youth already in the program, this is not the case for many of the volunteers with the NAS Pensacola and Corry Station 4-H clubs. These volunteers are unique. They complete the 4-H 101 trainings, participate in county and district wide events, and facilitate some of the best programming Escambia County 4-H has to offer. Yet, could you list one name of a volunteer who is involved in these clubs? While these volunteers run 4-H programs year round and are constantly focused on providing on new opportunities, they are not often as visible as one might expect.
We Need All Kinds of Volunteers
Youth participate in STEM activities during 4-H Club meeting.
These volunteers break the mold of a traditional 4-H volunteer. They serve a tight knit community who face many obstacles the majority of us could never comprehend. Through all of this though, these volunteers provide a sense of stability for the youth they serve. While 4-H programming is offered at Navy youth centers across the nation and the world, the volunteers at NAS Pensacola and Corry Station Youth Centers are exemplary. They even have a national award to prove it! The staff at these centers were the recipients of the 2019 National Association of Extension 4-H Agents Military Partnership Award. In comparison, this award does little to truly recognize their impact on the youth they serve. While youth center staff may not be “traditional” 4-H volunteers, they fill the need of the communities serve. A 4-H volunteer is most effective when they are able to understand the needs of the community and are able to adjust the programming to fit that need. Often times, it is through the volunteers that go unnoticed, traditional and unconventional alike, that the youth we serve are afforded the opportunities that 4-H programs offer year round.
For more information about UF/IFAS Extension programs or to learn more about how you can serve your community as a 4-H volunteer, please contact your local UF/IFAS Extension.
April is National Volunteer Month. Throughout the month of April, 4-H programs in counties across the Northwest UF/IFAS Extension District from Jefferson to Escambia counties take time to recognize volunteers and the contributions those volunteers make with their time and talent to youth development in their communities. Ken Gooding is a 4-H Shooting Sports Volunteer Leader in Wakulla County. Ken serves as President for the county’s 4-H shooting sports advisory group. He also provides organizational and content expertise for the program in a volunteer coordinator capacity.
Ken Gooding volunteers on the range teaching archery and skeet shooting.
Ken co-founded the Wakulla 4-H Shooting Sports Club now known as “4-H Sharpshooters” in 2018. Since that time, the club has grown to include over forty youth members who learn archery and skeet shooting and ten adult volunteers who support club activities. In his volunteer role with Shooting Sports, Ken leads adult volunteers and develops youth leaders.
Leading Leaders of All Ages with 4-H
After he became a state certified Level One Shooting Sports Instructor in 2018, Ken continued his training at the national level. In 2019, Ken became nationally certified as a Level Two shooting sports archery instructor. This credential qualifies Ken to teach adult volunteers seeking Level One certification in archery.
For Ken, volunteering with 4-H is an expression of his passion for giving back to the community. Ken said, “I volunteer with 4-H because I believe I have a responsibility to share the skills I have with next generation and 4-H gives me the tools I need to effectively pass on this skill to a wide variety of youth in my community that would not otherwise have the opportunity that 4-H provides.
Giving Back to the Community
4-H volunteers help UF/IFAS Extension to amplify their reach into the community. Volunteers are said to be the civic heart of most communities. Ken shared his perspective on why he believes it is important to volunteer in the community:
“To actually be a member of a community, a person must have a vested interest in the success of the community. In the past, that interest was expressed in the general desire to see the community as a whole grow and flourish. Each member brought a particular skillset that when joined with others enabled the community to flourish. But each member also felt a duty or responsibility was owed to the community they helped to build, the community that provided for their individual success and prosperity. This is where 4-H, only one small opportunity for our community members can give back, comes in. Every one of our neighbors has a skill or a passion that they are uniquely qualified to impart to the youth of our community and 4-H has the tools each one of us needs to see that the lessons we’ve learned over a lifetime are not lost to time.”
Ken had a message to share about why he believes everyone should take time to volunteer. He noted the tremendous efforts often exhibited during times of emergency and shared that he often wonders what good things would happen if we all put a tenth of that energy into their community on a daily basis. In closing, Ken said that if he could make an ask of the community, he would ask that, “Each and every member of every community give a little bit of themselves back to their community. Think about, with that small commitment, what kinds of changes for the better could be achieved. I’ll be willing to bet, you’ll receive a greater return for your efforts.”
When Ken is not busy with 4-H, he works as a barge captain on the Mississippi River and volunteers with the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office at the Sheriff’s shooting range. He also raises rabbits and chickens with his wife, Trena. Ken also shares his talents as a professional deejay with 4-H. Whether he is teaching archery or making the party happen with music, Ken is a valued volunteer and an inspiring role model for aspiring leaders of all ages.
For more information about UF/IFAS Extension programs, follow this link to connect with your local office.
Anne Peterson, recipient of the 2019 Elaine Keir Memorial Outstanding Volunteer Award.
For over 40 years, Anne Peterson has served as a volunteer for Escambia County 4-H. Anne began at an early age taking riding lessons in a barn led by a local 4-H horse club leader. That barn was where she began to adopt the knowledge and culture she would strive to emulate for the remainder of her 4-H volunteer career. Anne’s early years largely impacted her path in life, and ultimately led her to volunteer with 4-H.
Anne began volunteering with a club as a young adult, and from there. pursued every opportunity to continue her service. From volunteering at county events to volunteering at sleep over camps like Camp Timpoochee during the summer, she took the opportunities she believed in most and supported them whole-heartedly. Anne has served on multiple committees and boards at the local, district, and state levels with the goal of sharing her experiences and looking for ways to make the 4-H program stronger and better. From the horse program to the legislative program, Anne has participated in the planning and execution of county, district and state wide events. Ms. Anne even volunteers on the Area North 4-H Horse Show Committee and State 4-H Horse Advisory Committees, even though she does not have any youth who compete in the events.
Anne has not only invested years of volunteer service in 4-H, but she also shares with others her dedication and passion for 4-H and youth development, which continues to inspire the youth and families she works with. Anne’s impact has been felt in the projects she has taken on, but her ever-steady impact on the individuals she encounters, reaches far beyond what is immediately observable. Anne has never strayed far from her passion that was sparked in that barn, and as she continues to serve others, she is leaving her fingerprints
on their lives as well as the 4-H program. Anne has also received multiple awards for her service over the years, some of which include the 2019 Florida 4-H Horse Program Elaine Keir Memorial Outstanding Volunteer Award, and an induction to the Florida 4-H Hall of Fame.
A Lesson for Us All
While Anne has demonstrated an astounding longevity in her volunteer career, we must remember that she too was once a new volunteer. We all serve a role, however little or large we perceive the role to be, every role is important as that is the only way we can continue to offer quality programs. The saying “it takes a village” holds true to 4-H programming. To be an extraordinary 4-H volunteer, one need not do every role, but do one role to the best of their ability, as it is through the team of volunteers and agents that an extraordinary and impactful program is created. One role builds to other roles, and it is left to you to decide what role you will take. Regardless of the role, you have the chance to positively impact youth in your community, so ask your county 4-H agent how you can help “make the best better.”
To learn more about volunteering with Florida 4-H, contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office to learn about 4-H in your county.
Sara Brake, Santa Rosa Volunteer
Sara Brake has been a Santa Rosa County 4-H volunteer for over ten years. She remembers her first experience with 4-H as an eight-year-old, stating, “My mom was a fourth-grade teacher who helped organize the Tropicana Public Speaking program at Jay Elementary. My first 4-H experience was in the summer of 1990 at a summer education program held at the Jay Civic Center; we learned about solar energy.” All of her energy goes toward the youth in the 4-H program now.
Sara is passionate about summer camp and camping at Camp Timpoochee in Niceville. She explains, “Camp meant a lot to my family and to me as my grandfather had gone to Camp Timpoochee in the 1930s, and my mom went to Timpoochee in the 1960s.”
She also remembers, “4-H Legislature was my first summer program as a Senior 4-Her.” She devotes much of her time to planning the state-wide event that teaches youth civics in a week-long, hands-on atmosphere in Tallahassee, Florida, each summer. When asked about her dedication of so much time to 4-H Legislature, she replied, “My favorite thing about Legislature as a volunteer is seeing how excited youth get when a bill they are passionate about goes the way they want.”
Sara Brake gives so much back to the 4-H program because 4-H gave so much to her. She said, “My 4-H experiences helped me become the person I am. I know there are parents today who cannot take time to take youth to events and programs. I have the flexibility to give time. Helping youth have access to programs that meant so much to me when I was a youth is what keeps me volunteering.”
Santa Rosa County 4-H and youth from across the state of Florida, thank you, Sara Brake, for all of your hard work and dedication to our youth.
To learn more about volunteering with Florida 4-H or contact your local UF/IFAS Extension to learn about 4-H in your county.