4-H club leaders are amazing instructors and terrific at running club meetings and events, but this job can be very time consuming. They deeply appreciate all the help they can get from the parents of the club members to help make the club even more successful. Even something as little as picking up snacks for a meeting or leading a group at a judging event can be a huge lifesaver. In addition, there are benefits to parent involvement. When parents, grandparents and other family members get involved in supporting 4-H clubs, it strengthens family relationships by improving “parent/child communication, bonding, and perceptions of one another” (Duerden, Witt, & Harrist, 2013). In addition, research shows that family involvement “prolongs the experience’s positive post-participation effects” (Duerden, Witt, and Harrist, 2013, p. 1).
Aside from the benefits listed above, it is important to recognize reasons why parents volunteer. There are three types of motivation: achievement, affiliation and power (Atkinson and Feather, 1966). Henderson (1981) found most 4-H volunteers to be motivated by affiliation. Individuals motivated by affiliation value relationships with people and organizations. Affiliation-motivated volunteers would respond best to thank-you notes, verbal praise or informal “pats on the back.” One of the best ways to recruit parents or grandparents to help with clubs is to provide opportunities for them to develop positive relationships with other parents, members, and volunteers. Here are two simple suggestions for recruiting more parents and grandparents:
- When advising parents to sign their child up on 4-H Online, mention that they can also create their own profile so they can get involved as well. Make sure when you are recruiting new youth to your club, to also be very welcoming to their parents and encourage them to stay for the meetings and programs. Give them a copy of the club program calendar so they know when the meetings are and what is on the agenda.
- Introduce parents to other parents. Help them build connections with each other. Better yet, ask a more experienced parent to mentor new parents.
- Let parents know you welcome their involvement and give them the Parent Involvement Form. This form will allow parents the opportunity to see all of the different jobs and responsibilities that they can do to help the club succeed and sign up for the things that interest them. This will help you as a club leader to have a little less on your plate and allow the parents to help get involved with their child’s interests.
Every chance that you get to be involved in 4-H, whether you are a youth, parent, or club leader, you are giving your community a brighter future. All of the opportunities that 4-H provides will help build youth into positive members of society one day. So, club leaders, go out there and recruit the parents of your club members to help out and make your programs even stronger! Next week, we will talk about how to engage parents in your club!
- Duerden, M. D., Witt, P. A., & Harrist, C. J. (2013, Winter). The impact of parental involvement on a structured youth program experience: A qualitative inquiry. Journal of Youth Development, 8(3), 1-17. Retrieved August 31, 2018, from jyd.pitt.edu/ojs/jyd/article/view/88.
- Atkinson, J., & Feather, N. (1966). Theory of achievement motivation. New York: Wiley.
- Henderson, K. (1981). Motivating the adult 4-H volunteer. Journal of Extension. 19(1). Retrieved from: http://www.joe.org/joe/1981january/81-1-a4.pdf