Volunteers Lead the Way

"Our volunteers have helped me to get where I am today in the Louisiana 4-H program, to turn my insecurity and fear into zeal and ambition, and continue to inspire me in their truly selfless dedication to our members — in reaching our goals and honoring our accomplishments."

- Sean Myers, Sean Myers, Acadia Parish, National Conference Delegate and 4-H Executive Board member

Volunteers play a critical role in the Louisiana 4-H program. They generously craft high-quality educational programs, serve as program leaders and overnight chaperones, maintain advisory positions on 4-H councils and foundation boards, advocate for the needs of our 4-H programs and our members, and enable us to address critical societal issues and contribute to the public good. Without our army of well-trained and hard-working volunteers, our programs would not be able to educate and engage over 200,000 youth each year.

Former Louisiana 4-H state president and 2020 Louisiana Student of the Year Tay Moore has just begun his new career as a Louisiana 4-H volunteer.

“It is only fitting for me to give back to Louisiana 4-H for what it has given me,” Moore said. “I would not be the person I am today without the many adult volunteers who sowed into my life.”

As a Louisiana 4-H member, Moore watched many volunteers, including his mother, Kimberly Bowden-Moore, serve selflessly.

“It was such an inspiration to see my mom serve while I was a member,” he said. “She made an impact on so many children across our parish and was not afraid to jump in and do the work. She was the volunteer that filled a school bus full of excited kids in the wee hours of the morning and drove to LSU for the annual 4-H tailgate because she knew that, for many of the kids, this might be their only chance to experience Death Valley (Tiger Stadium). Now, in my new role as a 4-H volunteer, I hope to be that same encouraging spirit, comforting voice, and role model that helped me and others along the way.”

Many 4-H volunteers serve tirelessly, often without reward and sometimes in ways we are unaware. Furthermore, with the amount of time and knowledge that volunteers provide Louisiana 4-H, it is essential that our volunteers feel like active partners in leading and shaping the 4-H programs in which they serve. Therefore, this year, the Louisiana 4-H program set off to find out how much time and resources our volunteers are dedicating to our programs, what unique benefits their service was providing the organization as well as themselves, and if they feel like collaborative partners in helping us shape the futures of our youth.

"I have encountered many volunteers, and each has inspired me to serve my community. They all demonstrate the qualities of leadership, selflessness and compassion! They give their time to our organization in hopes of growing the leaders of tomorrow!"

- Anna Little, Winn Parish, 2019-20 National Conference Delegate and 2020-21 Louisiana State 4-H president

Capturing the impact of our volunteer leaders

The volunteer survey results demonstrated that volunteers were serving approximately 832,324 volunteer hours annually with an economic impact of $21,166,024. Additionally, volunteers described the leadership roles they played in 4-H programs throughout the state, from teaching youth firearm safety, cooking and sewing skills to helping youth improve their leadership, time management, communication and teamwork skills.

They also helped youth to lead service-learning initiatives that provide over 10,000 meals to people in need across the state. Additionally, volunteers reported teaching kids how to grow and maintain a garden, use a map, survive in the outdoors and perform basic first aid.

Future volunteer development goals

Volunteer administrators often claim that the most challenging part of working with volunteers is not recruiting them, but keeping them engaged, empowered and wanting to continue serving. As a result of the 2020 volunteer-engagement survey, and in an effort to keep volunteers engaged and empowered, Louisiana 4-H has goals of expanding training and leadership opportunities for volunteers, as well as finding more opportunities for volunteers to be recognized. Also, Louisiana 4-H is working to create more opportunities for volunteers to use their voices and develop stronger relationships with 4-H personnel. This will allow us to put to better use the knowledge our volunteers have gained after years of being involved in 4-H.

For more information about serving with Louisiana 4-H, contact Meggan Franks, Volunteer & Leadership Development Specialist.

Portrait of a female volunteer standing with four youths.
A group of youths stands in front of a "menu" display sign.
Four schoolchildren stand near a pallet of plants, while one holds up a "Plant Sale" sign.
A group of students touches plants in a garden.
A teacher and a group of children poses near desks in a classroom.
11/22/2021 12:38:04 AM
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