Volunteers are the heart of 4-H

Linda Benedict, Fox, Janet E.  |  6/24/2014 8:55:04 PM

Janet Fox

Volunteers are vital to Cooperative Extension and to 4-H. They have been integral to the development, delivery and success of programs since beginning. Extension professionals engage volunteers by involving them in a variety of roles that provides leadership and support to programs and events.

In Louisiana, nearly 7,500 4-H volunteers assist in the delivery of 4-H programs to approximately 240,000 youth annually. In 2012-2013, 4-H volunteers gave more than $7.1 million worth of service to the Louisiana 4-H Youth Development program.

Louisiana 4-H Master Volunteer Fran Castille from Tangipahoa Parish shared her motivation for volunteering. “I have been a 4-H volunteer for the past 29 years and was a 4-H’er for eight years. My family says that I bleed green. Words cannot describe what it is like to watch my kids receive blue ribbons at 4-H University or represent Louisiana 4-H at the local, state and national levels and know that I have something to do with their success. I feel like I receive more from the kids than I can ever give them.”

Though volunteers are essential assets to extension programming, many volunteers discover the reciprocal nature of volunteering. National 4-H Hall of Fame recipient Ann Keene of Madison Parish shared her 4-H volunteer experience. “Being a 4-H volunteer leader, I had the opportunity to assist youth in recognizing the qualities within themselves that would enable them to grow and become leaders of the future, while using the projects and activities at the heart of the 4-H program. In being that caring adult working with young people, I was forced to dig deep within myself and develop skills that I did not know I possessed so that I, too, grew!”

Janet Fox is associate director of 4-H and Youth Development.

(This article was published in the spring 2014 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)

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