According to the U.S. Department of Labor, more than 6 million American adults volunteer an average of 52 hours per year. Volunteerism is very much a part of our culture and Georgia 4-H relies heavily on the work of volunteers every day.
Volunteers serve 4-H as chaperones, educators, mentors, leaders and marketers. Roles are as varied as the communities in which volunteers live and the youths in those programs. A 4-H volunteer may coordinate a 4-H fundraiser, volunteer in the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension office, help a 4-H’er prepare a project, chaperone at summer camp, mentor a 4-H’er at their livestock show or coach a judging team.
Volunteerism in 4-H is not a new concept. The first Georgia 4-H volunteer was G.C. Adams, school superintendent in Newton County and founder of the 1904 Boys Corn Club. The corn club became the 4-H program. Today, more than 21,000 adults make an impact on Georgia 4-H youths as volunteers.
The Search Institute reports one of the 40 developmental assets for young people is a positive caring adult. Further research shows that an adult who supports a young person, believes in his future and creates a positive environment for him to succeed is one of the key factors in that student’s success.
Georgia 4-H is filled with stories of volunteers who touch the lives of students. “Because of the support of 4-H volunteers, my sisters and I were able to escape a difficult home situation and participate in an organization that changed our lives, “said one Athens-Clarke County 4-H alumna.
Another student credits the patience and support of his 4-H S.A.F.E. (Shooting Awareness Fun and Education) coach for providing him the opportunity to excel in a sport that became a lifelong hobby.
“Our volunteers took us everywhere. I saw Georgia because an adult cared enough to be my chaperone,” said another 4-H’er.
“Our volunteer means so much to us. She is always there. She shows us what to do but lets us do it. When I walk in the show ring I know she’s proud of me and I’m proud that I can do it,” said a Georgia 4-H’er who participates in livestock showing.
All Georgia 4-H volunteers are screened through UGA and trained to support the efforts of UGA Extension and 4-H in their communities. Individuals interested in volunteering for Georgia 4-H should contact their local UGA Extension office at 1-800-ASKUGA1 or email Jenny Jordan, Extension 4-H specialist - Volunteer & Teen programs, at email@example.com.
(Jenny Jordan is a University of Georgia Cooperative Extension 4-H specialist.)
Brian Whitley, a certified rifle coach, is just one of the hundreds of volunteers that donate their time each year to the Georgia 4-H program. Whitley is shown competing in a coaches shoot with assistance from his daughter Danielle Whitley and Hannah Leggett.Download Image