4-H offers many different ways for volunteers to get involved. No matter how much time you have, volunteering with 4-H makes a difference by helping youth grow skills and knowledge that last a lifetime. Here are a few ways you can engage as a volunteer with 4-H:
- Help youth lead a club- our 4-H clubs are led by youth officers and members, but they need adult guidance. Most clubs meet once a month during the school months, but some clubs meet more frequently for a shorter period of time.
- Teach a skill- share a skill by speaking at a club meeting, teaching a workshop, or leading a project. Florida 4-H offers more than 60 different project areas!
- Judge projects- we need judges to provide constructive feedback to youth on their project work.
- Plan or help with an event- 4-H offers many events throughout the year and we need volunteers to help with the planning, set up, registration, refreshments, and of course- clean up!
- Serve on an advisory committee or board- each county has an advisory committee to help provide direction and financial oversight of 4-H funds.
- Be a project mentor- Advise a 4-H member on their project work- help youth set goals, implement a plan, and reflect on what they learned.
- Help deliver a program- Volunteer at an afterschool project, summer program, or school garden.
- Serve on a fair committee- Volunteer with your local or regional fair to help provide learning experiences for youth.
- Share your professional skills- share your technical skills and knowledge with youth. Coach youth on how to build a resumé or interview for a job. Volunteering with 4-H can also be a great resumé builder!
- Share your experiences- share your passion by serving as a guest speaker or short term instructor. Allow youth to shadow you for the day.
Check out this video about different 4-H volunteer service roles:
You can also find detailed descriptions of these service roles on our 4-H club hub site. 4-H can work with you to tailor a service role that fits your interest and schedule. Whether it’s once a week, once a month, or once a year, 4-H needs caring adults like you to inspire the next generation. Contact your local UF IFAS Extension office to start a conversation about how you can contribute to growing #TrueLeaders!
Volunteers are a vital part of the Florida 4-H program, and we want to provide our volunteers with the tools needed to be a successful volunteer with your county 4-H program. 4-H Agents in the Northwest District developed a Volunteer Resource Site this year to assist volunteers in their roles. A large part of volunteer success comes from training and preparation, as well as, having access to relevant resources and materials to assist you in your role. The Volunteer Resource Site contains valuable information to prepare, train, and provide support in your role. There are three main sections to the site and you can explore what you will find in each section below. A virtual tour of the site is also available and can be accessed by clicking here.
Not a volunteer, but interested in how to become one? This section is where you want to start! There is a short video available on how to become a 4-H volunteer along with more detailed step-by-step instructions. You will also find a link to five volunteer orientation videos provided by Florida 4-H. After making contact with your county 4-H Agent to learn what volunteer roles are available in your area, come back to the volunteer site for a direct link to create your volunteer profile in 4-H Online.
Florida 4-H offers a variety of ways you can volunteer with the program. Under this section of the site you will find a short video discussing the potential volunteer roles. The Serve page also contains direct links to position descriptions of each role for you to further explore each volunteer opportunity. Each position description lists the purpose of the role, your duties and responsibilities, basic qualifications you will need, the resources we will provide you, benefits of volunteering, and the time commitment. The different types of volunteer roles can vary by county and it is recommended to contact your county 4-H agent to learn about the role opportunities in your community.
This section contains critical resources on specific topics related to your role as a volunteer. We understand that volunteers have busy schedules, therefore, each training item has the completion time listed with it. This allows 4-H volunteers to plan their trainings based on their own schedules. You will find resources on 4-H club management, events, risk management & safety, club meetings, and more in this section.
The Northwest District Virtual Volunteer Leadership Academy training and resources can also be found in this section. You can review the training schedule for the Volunteer Leadership Academy, register for trainings, and watch previously recorded webinars. The Virtual Volunteer Leadership Academy is offered to volunteers and those interested in becoming a volunteer. This series provides monthly webinars to learn new information and skills that will positively impact 4-H youth.
It also allows you to network with other volunteers in the NW Extension District and participants have the potential to earn a social media digital badge!
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.”
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.