Volunteers make a difference

Volunteers are the heart of 4-H programs.

Volunteers are the heart of Michigan State University Extension’s 4-H Youth Development programs and offer the best of who they are to members across our state. Adults share research-based information with youth and work with them to apply the experiential learning model to their projects. This process allows youth to develop their analytical skills and gain confidence as they build expertise in their project areas. Experience is life’s greatest teacher and when we combine it with caring adult volunteers to support our young people through successes and disappointments, we see the heart of 4-H programs.

Volunteers pledge their head, heart, hands and health right along with our youth to improve our club, our community, our country and our world. Volunteers in 4-H are encouraged to let youth take the lead and make decisions. We encourage youth to serve as officers and provide leadership for projects great and small. Youth serve as committee chairs, plan events, programs and organize field trips. Adult volunteers are there to guide and offer support as needed. Teen leaders grow through these experiences and learn by doing.

As you think about the New Year, how will you make a difference? Will you serve as a volunteer to inspire young people? Will you share a skill with them? Take time to think about what you might have to offer the community around you; what are your strengths? 4-H offers opportunities to be involved for a short period of time – four to six sessions leading a special interest club on a topic of your choice or longer term leading a general club. Other volunteers may work in an existing club helping with a specific project or event that interests them. Regardless of their role, all volunteers contribute value to the organization and make a difference in their own way.

To find out what opportunities exist in your community, contact your local MSU Extension office.

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