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.
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.”
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
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.
Greg James prepares to swear in new 4-H Association leaders for 2019.
Volunteers across the panhandle make a difference in the lives of young people in their communities by simply sharing the things they love.
June Clemons and Peg Frith are a mother-daughter team who can do anything! From time to time, they’ve volunteered for 4-H, but the first time I asked them to help me teach a small sewing project during a cooking day camp, I knew I’d struck gold. Anyone can learn to sew but having the patience to teach it…that’s a whole other story.
It took me a couple of years to talk them into leading a sewing club, and honestly, I think they talked themselves into it. The holdup wasn’t a lack of desire to help; it was hesitancy to commit to something but not being able to follow through.
In fact, Peg’s advice to anyone thinking about becoming a 4-H volunteer is:
“I’d tell them it can be hard to find the time to plan, organize, and implement meetings, but it’s very rewarding. If you commit, see it through. Don’t disappoint the children.”
June emphatically said, “Do it!”
So why do June and Peg commit their precious time to 4-H? They first got involved because they had positive experiences as 4-H’ers and wanted to pass on the skills they learned. But now, it’s the kids they work with that keep them coming back. They both said that “teaching useful, lifelong skills to children and just enjoying being with them as they learn,” is their favorite part about volunteering with 4-H.
I asked June and Peg if they thought their 4-H work was making a difference.
June says, “All you have to do is see the joy in their faces upon completing a task to know how it affects the members.”
Peg added, “I get to see firsthand their sense of accomplishment. And the fact that they keep coming back to class tells me that the club is making a difference in their lives.”
As further evidence that June and Peg are making a difference, club parents have shared their children not only come home from their sewing club meetings excited to show what they made that day, but they have also started stitching up seams in their clothes and stuffed animals.
As a 4-H agent, I can tell you that the independence and mastery displayed by these young club members is exactly what we’re looking for from our 4-H’ers, and good club leaders help them achieve it.
Are you wondering if you have what it takes to make a difference in the lives of young people in your community?
You don’t have to be an expert. You don’t have to have kids or grandkids of your own. You don’t have to have been a former 4-H’er. You just have to love something enough to want to share it with the next generation. So what’s your passion? Pass it on!
There are many ways to volunteer with 4-H, and we need you – from fair exhibit and public speaking judges, to club leaders, chaperones, camp nurses, and more. To pass on your passion and help the youth in your area Grow in 4-H, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office to find the best volunteer role for you.
Like these Jefferson County volunteers, every 4-H volunteer is making a positive difference in the lives of youth.
As a 4-H Agent, one of the things I am most grateful for is volunteers. Our volunteers are leaders, cheerleaders, mentors, and advocates for our youth. It is with their help and service that many young people find their voice or passion and become healthy, capable, caring, and productive adults.
Volunteers assist by:
- leading club meetings
- serving as camp counselors
- judging speech and demonstration contests
- serving on advisory committees, and
- utilizing their unique interests, skills, and abilities to serve the 4-H program and extend it to audiences which would otherwise be unserved.
Youth volunteers, like our 4-H Camp counselors, are such an asset to the county 4-H program.
In the process, our volunteers shape future leaders by demonstrating leadership skills, instilling a sense of community, and offering a positive connection with someone from a different age group or generation. And while they do not serve for praise or recognition, many volunteers get a great deal of fulfillment, self-satisfaction, and enjoyment in volunteer service, as they watch youth develop self-confidence, self-worth, and leadership skills
Whether they serve episodically or for many years, volunteers are a valuable and essential component of 4-H. Without their help, 4-H could not deliver the excellent programs that are the cornerstone of Extension.
To all of the volunteers in the district, thank you for all you do.
Learn more about volunteering with Florida 4-H or contact your local UF/IFAS Extension to learn about 4-H in your county and discuss your possibilities with your 4-H Agent.
We’ll be highlighting more about 4-H volunteers during the month of April, so be on the lookout for some great stories!
April is a month of many celebrations. Included in April’s celebrations is National Volunteer Appreciation Week. Our aim this month is to recognize some of the many dedicated 4-H volunteers that impact our youth in so many different ways. From robotics to agriculture, we have numerous outstanding volunteers that dedicate many hours and are rewarded with the joys of the impacts they make to our future leaders.
4-H Shooting Sports is one of the largest youth development programs in the United States. Our aim is for certified volunteer instructors to teach young people to learn responsibility, self-confidence, and leadership abilities through the skills and disciplines of shooting sports such as archery. Though arrows are unpredictable and independent from the bow, archers depend on the bow to be the unchanging factor in an otherwise deliberate sport. Aim, draw and stance can determine the trajectory of each shot, but the bow always remains the constant, the foundation in the sport.
As a 4-H Agent, one can parallel archery to life as a 4-Her. As unpredictable as an arrow can be, it depends on the archer and the bow to make the shot. Life guides 4-Hers to try new things and take exciting adventures, but they still want and need a positive adult role model to rely on and guide them. Everyone needs a “bow,” that someone they can count on to be consistent in their lives. This is the relationship between a 4-Her and his or her 4-H volunteers; a sturdy foundation that fosters independence, confidence, and mastery of skills.
Even as the archer loves the arrow that flies, so too he loves the bow that remains constant.
– Nigerian Proverb
Meet Randy Adams, a Holmes County 4-H Volunteer, certified 4-H Archery Instructor, Club Leader for the past 4 years, and “archery bow” for many a 4-Her. Mr. Randy has been working with his 4-H club, the Dead Center Archery Club, on the safe and responsible use of the bow and arrow and believes he is passing on skills that some kids would not have the opportunity to learn otherwise. He leads his club by example, humor, and with ease. When asked what he found most challenging about volunteering, Mr. Randy stated having the extra energy to keep up with the kids in the afternoon!
Mr. Randy is an inspiration to his community and his 4-H family. Not letting some of his own health challenges stop him from his passion to help others, give back to his community and his love for archery and turkey hunting, he has pressed on to ensure that he teaches his hunting and archery skills, lead club meetings, and raise funds to assist youth to attend their first 4-H archery competitions and helped a 4-H family when illness struck.
A true example of 4-H leadership through the four H’s of Head, Heart, Hands, and Health, Mr. Randy teaches local youth many skills in his 4-H archery club. He reminds us that some of the greatest lessons learned in life are the simple ones – Life is not about winning, it is about succeeding. It is about a volunteer helping a 4-Her gain the courage to take a first shot and hitting the target.
To find out how you could impact our youth as a volunteer in your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or for more information about programs like 4-H shooting sports, please visit http://florida4h.org.