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
November is National Inspirational Role Models Month
Before the medals and the ribbons and the physical manifestations of success, there is a club, a meeting, and adult, a friend that changes the life of a youth. Someone that gives youth the confidence to believe in themselves. Someone that they can look to as an example to follow. The Oxford dictionary defines a role model as “a person looked to by others as an example to be imitated.” In the midst of the social media culture where people have the potential to drastically influence a person’s life without ever holding a conversation, it is essential that youth have positive role models who will guide them in an ever changing society.
Organizations like 4-H, where programming is highly reliant on the dedication of volunteers, there are innumerable individuals who function as role models. Though there are many individuals, I have often found that most great role models function in similar manners and styles. Each style is as unique as each person, more important is the fact that each individual has an impact on the youth around them, consciously or not. Some individuals strive to have a significant impact on youth such as Angela Tinker. As the leader of the county wide Leadership Club, Angela Tinker is a positive role model and a consistent presence in the lives of the youth she works with. She is a shining example of just one of the many 4-H volunteers who serve to inspire youth as positive role models.
The Shepherd: Angela Tinker
Pictured is Angela Tinker with her husband, Bill Tinker. Angela has served as an Escambia County 4-H Volunteer since 2008.
The role of the shepherd is to look after the safety and welfare of their flock. As youth grow older and near the completion of their 4-H careers, youth not only want to demonstrate their independence, but they need a safe environment in which to do it. They also need individuals who will lead them, and more importantly who will lead them by example.
Angela Tinker exemplifies a shepherd. She has worked as an Escambia County 4-H volunteer for eleven years. Over the course of her tenure, she has worked with younger youth as well as teenagers. She continues to lead the Leadership Club where she works with teenagers. When asked why she continues to serve as a volunteer, even though both of her daughters have graduated and moved on from the program, Angela responded, “seeing the little successes, which turn into big successes.” It is her passion to cultivate an environment in which the little successes of everyday emerge as life altering successes that enables her to be the role model these youth see when working with her.
Angela is a role model that leads by quietly tending to the youth she works with, and by ensuring that they have the best opportunities to grow and build their skills. As budding adults, the youth Angela works with are in some of the most formative years of their lives. Everything and everyone that these youth encounter shapes them in one way or another. It is the positive role models in the 4-H organization like Angela who ensure that our youth have the best chance to develop into the best person possible. Angela is an example of the 4-H way of “Making the Best, Better” every day.
Who Do You Inspire? Become a Role Model – Become a 4-H Volunteer
If you have knowledge or skills that you can share with youth in your community, consider becoming a 4-H volunteer! 4-H is always in need of caring, positive adult role models to serve in the role of 4-H volunteers. From leading a club to judging public speaking or teaching a craft project, contact your local UF/IFAS County Extension Office or visit our website to learn how you can serve as a positive adult role model today to make a difference in the lives of our youth tomorrow.
Special thanks to Aly Schortinghouse, UF/IFAS Escambia County 4-H Agent, for providing this article and picture.
The goal of 4-H is to teach youth essential 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 such as an increase in social skills, an expanded social calendar and even a decline in depression.
A teen volunteer helps a Cloverbud member during a summer workshop
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!
Now is the perfect time to start your path to volunteering and making a difference! The new 4-H year begins September 1, 2019 and all counties across the state of Florida are in need of positive adults to serve in the role of volunteer. Whether you are interested in working directly with youth to lead a 4-H club or would like to assist behind the scenes in preparing others to facilitate outstanding 4-H programming, Florida 4-H needs dedicated individuals to carry out its mission.
So, go ahead. Reap the benefits of volunteering! Join the 4-H family today. The process to become a volunteer is relatively simple: visit http://florida4h.org to apply online or stop in to your local UF IFAS County Extension Office and meet with your 4-H Extension Agent for assistance.