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.
Volunteers from a local bank help teens learn financial management during a 4-H meeting
For more than 100 years, Floridians have been volunteering with 4-H to teach life skills to youth and to help make the best better in their communities. Florida is one of the few states in the southeast where the foundation of our program is built on community and project clubs. These 4-H clubs are where youth get the biggest benefit from 4-H membership and they wouldn’t be possible without our volunteers. There are nearly 10,000 volunteers working with 200,000 Florida 4-H members each year. Our volunteers come from many different backgrounds and walks of life, but they all have one thing in common- a desire to share their passion and skills with the next generation.
We are always grateful for the men and women who work so tirelessly to help youth become competent, caring citizens- but this month, we celebrate them to show our deep appreciation. April is National Volunteer Appreciation Month, and if you haven’t been following us on Facebook, then you’ve been missing our daily videos about how volunteers are impacting lives and communities in Florida. Each day this week, we will be sharing a story of a 4-H volunteer on our blog. We hope you draw inspiration from each of these individuals (as we do).
Engineers volunteer with our STEM Challenge at the North Florida Fair every fall.
If you are a 4-H parent or member, please thank your volunteer this week. A phone call, text, or handwritten note of thanks would make them feel appreciated and encouraged. If you have a skill or passion to share with young people, please consider being a volunteer for 4-H. We have a variety of roles to meet your interests and schedule. To find out more, contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office.
April’s 4-H Virtual Volunteer Leadership Academy on April 16, 2020 was on the importance of awards and recognition. We learned that recognition is important feedback that every individual needs as it helps to give a sense of belonging when a task or achievement occurs. Recognition builds self-esteem and allows for self-reflection and personal growth.
In 4-H, youth members, volunteers, parents, and community partners all want to know that they have been successful in their participation and/or contribution to the program and that they belong in 4-H. All members need to experience recognition for their efforts and that recognition is more meaningful when it occurs soon after it is earned. April’s 4-H Virtual Volunteer Leadership Academy webinar explained that the National 4-H recognition model is based on five areas for recognition: participation, progress toward goals, standards of excellence, competition and cooperation. It also shared helpful tips on creative, low cost ways of recognition that will still send a meaningful message of value and importance to members in the program.
If you were unable to join us for April’s 4-H Virtual Volunteer Leadership Academy, it is not too late to register for future webinar sessions. And, as a registered participant, you will have access to all of the sessions available, including missed sessions, which can be viewed on demand.
Registration is required and can be found at http://bit.ly/4HVVLA Once registered, you can join each session live through Zoom. In addition, if you are unable to connect live, all monthly webinars will be available to you on demand as they are recorded. Register early – seats are limited to the first 100 registrants.
Future 4-H Virtual Volunteer Leadership Academy Webinars
- May – Club Tools for Online Use
- September*- Judging Contests
- October*- Preparing for Exhibits & Shows
- November* – Club Organization Basics
*Fall session registration will be available July 1, 2020.
Webinar Viewing Information
Join each live session simply with one click from your phone, tablet or computer, using the Zoom app. Once you have registered, you will receive email communication regarding the Zoom session links, dates and times.
4-H is one of the largest youth development programs in America with more than 6.5 million young people, ages 5-18, and 540,000 youth and adult volunteers. A variety of fun, educational, engaging activities are offered to teach the fundamental 4-H ideal of practical, “learn by doing” experiences which encourages youth to experiment, innovate and think independently. For information on how you can get involved with 4-H as a youth, volunteer, or supporter, please contact your local UF/IFAS Extension to learn about 4-H in your county.
4-H Volunteer Training about healthy relationships!
Make 2020 the year you learn something new or share your talents with a young person in your community. 4-H, the nation’s largest youth development and empowerment organization, cultivates confident youth who tackle the issues that matter most in their communities. It allows youth to learn by doing. 4-H relies on screened, dedicated volunteers to promote its mission to help youth gain the knowledge and life skills they need to be productive, responsible citizens.
In the Florida Panhandle, we have 4-H programs in schools, afterschool settings, and on military bases where we provide curricula and training to enhance our youth experiences while being active in 4-H. We also have school enrichment programs offering youth 4-H experiences on a specific subject while in school. We have community clubs and special interest groups that are currently active and we need more caring compassionate adults to help! These opportunities are great for families to do together.
If you only have time for a short-term event and like sewing, grilling, cake decorating, gardening or love bugs and outdoor education, consider volunteering. Contact your local Extension Office to see what spring and summer workshops and day camps are being offered that need caring adults to act in the role of 4-H volunteers. Your time as a volunteer will provide our youth the safe place to pursue whatever interests, causes, and leadership roles are most important to them. It also allows you to learn from the youth about current trends, fashions and technology. It really is a two-way learning opportunity where all involved learn by doing.
To volunteer, even for the summer workshops, you will need to be screened and trained, so contact us now. The screening and training process takes a little time. Please considervolunteering in your community. With over 70 different 4-H project areas from money and finances, gardening to computer science and rocketry, there are plenty of areas to work with youth to share your knowledge and skills. Please consider helping us live up to our motto of “making the best better” with 4-H by volunteering today. Simply contact your local extension office or check out our website for more information.
November is National Role Model Month
4-H Volunteer Dedication: A Decade and Counting
4-H volunteers are the vital precious gems of our 4-H programs. Each volunteer brings his/her own unique perspective, skills, and resources to the club or event they are working in. Whether a volunteer’s role is long-term as a 4-H Club Leader, or short-term as an episodic volunteer, they each donate an immense number of hours annually to ensure the youth of our Nation receive the best positive youth development opportunities.
Missy attending graduation at UF
Walton County 4-H is extremely fortunate to have a 4-H Club Leader that has dedicated 12 years to her Naturally Balanced Homesteading Club. Missy Bolen had only attended two club meetings as a youth because she didn’t have a project horse to be able to fully participate in club activities. This may have been the initial spark that led Missy to develop her own 4-H club decades later, in which youth get the opportunity to experience a broad spectrum of activities. Within Naturally Balanced Homesteading, a homeschool (in-school) club, youth have completed projects and demonstrations in leather working, gardening, sheep shearing, leadership training, conservation, and numerous educational field trips to name a few. Due to Missy’s passion towards 4-H, she currently has the largest club in our county, with more than 30 youth in attendance each month!
As a veteran 4-H volunteer and Club Leader, Missy’s advice to new volunteers is, “If you have a passion for youth and there isn’t a club already established, follow that passion; start a club and try to reach as many youth as you can! If you’re doing something that you’re passionate about, you won’t get bored and you will remain energetic and enthusiastic.”
Missy and son, Jesse, attending Bee College at UF
Volunteering in 4-H gives you the opportunity to be a role model to upcoming generations by providing them with activities and resources that target development of life skills. The life skills youth gain in 4-H programs afford them the foundation to build on as they become productive adults in society. When asking Missy to share the most rewarding part of being a volunteer, and what keeps her going after 12 years, she states, “My children are a huge factor because they have a club where they can do what they love alongside other youth with the same interests. It’s very rewarding to see them graduate, go on to great universities, and become productive adults! They recognize 4-H as the main reason for their accomplishments because many of their most valuable skills were developed through their clubs such as social skills, leadership skills, networking and confidence.”
Missy’s club learning about careers in Law Enforcement.
Volunteers are truly the HEAD, HEART, HANDS, and HEALTH of the 4-H organization. As Missy would say, “Most importantly, you must keep your focus on one thing: It’s all about helping the children.” If you are a new or current volunteer, club leader, or even 4-H Agent, the resources below are an excellent source of information as an orientation to 4-H or an annual refresher:
· Volunteer Orientation
· Volunteer Resources
· Volunteer Training Series
If you would like to learn more about how to get involved as a 4-H volunteer in your 4-H community, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit http://florida4h.org