4-H Volunteer Profile: Nick Suravaram

In an effort to highlight the many different volunteer opportunities 4-H has to offer, the 4-H Volunteer Profile series will highlight a few of the many wonderful people who give their time to Michigan 4-H.

In an effort to highlight the many different volunteer opportunities 4-H has to offer, the 4-H Volunteer Profile series will highlight a few of the many wonderful people who give their time to Michigan 4-H. 

Volunteer name: Nick Suravaram
Location of volunteer service: Journey 4-H Mentoring Program, Ottawa County
Duration of volunteer service: More than 12 years

What is your volunteer role in the Journey 4-H Mentoring program?
I am a mentor for the program. Throughout my time, I have been matched with four youth and worked at the juvenile detention facility in Ottawa County.

Why did you decide to become a 4-H volunteer?
I became a 4-H volunteer because I was interested in mentoring youth, but ultimately chose the 4-H Journey Program because of how comfortable I felt meeting with other volunteers and how they made the process of becoming a volunteer so clear.

What are some of the rewards you have experienced as a 4-H volunteer and mentor?
It is rewarding to be in the children’s lives. They open up their family life and you get to interact with their parents to see where they come from. Being a mentor lets you help children in a way that changes the trajectory of the rest of their lives. It allows me to teach children skills that help them in their day-to-day lives and in the future.

What are some of those life skills you teach youth as a 4-H mentor?
Some basic life skills I work with them on are anger management and standing up to peer pressure in different situations. We work on how to deal with these emotions and situations effectively and in a positive way. We talk about college and what they want to do after high school, including different options and types of colleges. 

People often think that only the youth in mentoring relationships benefit from them, but mentors frequently say they learn a lot from those relationships too. What kind of things have you learned from your mentoring relationships?
They allow me to see things from another’s point of view. You learn not to be judgmental because at first you see children in the detention facility as delinquents, but once you really start to talk to them and understand where they are from and how their life is, then you understand and see things differently. The other thing I have taken from this experience is great friendships. Children don’t want to talk about pleasantries, they want to talk about things that are important to them and things that are important to me. Sometimes just being able to talk is a reward in itself. 

What is your favorite memory from your 4-H volunteer experiences?
''There are a lot of great memories I have had in 4-H but some of my favorites are when I hear back from youth I previously mentored. I have seen them after they left the juvenile detention facility and they have jobs and are doing well. One of the youth I saw had joined the Army and was planning to go to the Marines.

What would you say to someone who was considering becoming a  4-H volunteer or mentor?
It is really hard to describe my experiences in words but it’s definitely an experience I would recommend trying. My experiences have been so positive. There are many options that work with different schedules, such as working in the detention facility or making a longer commitment with a youth to mentor. I would absolutely encourage anyone who is thinking about becoming a mentor to pursue that. 

People are often concerned they don’t have the time or skills required to become a mentor, or even a 4-H volunteer. What would you say to those people?
One of the reasons I chose the 4-H Journey Program specifically was because of the training. It gave me all of the things I needed to know about mentoring; I didn’t know how what the children would ask or how to answer some questions that might arise. The 4-H Journey Program specifically addresses these situations and really helped me become more comfortable when becoming a mentor. 

Thank you Nick for helping to answer the little questions of youth in your community. We appreciate your many years of service as a 4-H volunteer and mentor!

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