Volunteer Today with 4-H

December 17, 2014
Youth at the International Goat Research Center at Prairie View A&M University

Volunteers are an integral and essential component of programming initiatives in 4-H and Youth Development. Extension program leaders and program specialists augment 4-H agent’s work with volunteers, and stakeholders to develop, deliver, and expand sustainable programs for youth.  Many current and new life skills initiatives are made possible by the willingness of dedicated and appreciated volunteers.

By volunteering, individuals are working with local land-grant universities (i.e., Prairie View A&M University, Texas A&M University), via the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), to advance youth leadership development.  Collaborative efforts motivate 4-H members to become skilled, knowledgeable, contributing, and self-reliant “leaders” of the upcoming generations.  USDA and NIFA agencies, located in the District of Columbia, programs have impact nationally and world-wide.

During 2012, about 24% of Texans volunteered.  Currently, Texas boasts more than four million volunteers!  556.1 million hours of service was recorded in 2012.  Volunteer hours translated into $12.1 billion of service!  Go Texas!   The Cooperative Extension Program (CEP), an outreach unit of the College of Agriculture and Human Sciences at Prairie View A&M University currently boast more than 4,000 trained volunteers.  CEP is planning to increase those numbers and continue to impact the lives of all Texans.

building robotics

4-H State Agribotics competition at PVAMU

Located in the Houston Metro area, Prairie View A&M University’s core volunteers may come from this metropolis.  About 20% of Houstonians volunteered in 2012. The top two areas where volunteers provided service were with religious (37.8%) and educational (29.5%) organizations.

Richard M. Lerner, Jacqueline V. Lerner, et.al. (2002) indicated youth are reaping benefits of 4-H membership, according to their study.  4-H members are more likely to contribute to their communities and be civically engaged. Girls are two- three times more likely to participate in science programs as compared to girls who have not participated in 4-H.  Through 4-H, youth are engaged in well-thought-out programs, whereby volunteers encourage, mentor, foster, and tweak social, academic, and personal development skills, thereby enabling kids to achieve life-long successes.   Volunteers are helping to advance the positive development of youth, improve the community-at-large, feel good about themselves, and help youth live healthier and meaningful lives.

Based on feedback from CEP 4-H agents and other agents, a 4-H Volunteer Development Tool Kit (4-H VDTK) is being developed to meet identified needs. All information needed for an individual to become “cleared” before performing volunteer services at the University will be in a one-stop location. Such forms will include the Background Authorization Check, Volunteer Information and Volunteer Waiver forms.

Resources to help 4-H agents solicit recruit and retain volunteers, pertinent presentations, timelines, forms, guidelines, flyers, and tracking sheets will be included in the 4-H VDTK. Agents will be able to use templates, insert artwork and information pertinent to their communities.  Tips on how to use resources will be provided. This 4-H VDTK will allow 4-H agents to better use their energies in implementing new and innovative sustainable programs for budding Texans.

Be on the lookout for the 4-H VDTK!  The power of citizenship is alive in your community.  You, your family and friends can share your skills to create a better Texas.  Are you in?  Make an impact by volunteering today!

References

Corporation for National and Community Service: Volunteering and Civic Life in America, Volunteering and Civic Engagement in Houston, TX. Retrieved from http://www.volunteeringinamerica.gov/TX/Houston

Corporation for National and Community Service: Volunteering and Civic Life in America, Volunteering and Civic Engagement in Texas. Retrieved from http://www.volunteeringinamerica.gov/TX

Prairie View A&M University:  Cooperative Extension Program (CEP). Retrieved from http://www.pvamu.edu/cahs/cooperative-extension-program-cep/

Positive Youth Development: Research Shows 4-H Helps Young People Excel Beyond Their Peers. Retrieved from http://www.4-h.org/about/youth-development-research/positive-youth-development-study/

Lerner, Richard, Lerner Jacqueline V., Et al. (2002). The Positive Development of Youth: Report of the Findings from the First Seven Years of the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development.  Retrieved from

http://ase.tufts.edu/iaryd/documents/4HPYDStudyWave7.pdf

Joice Jeffries

By Joice A. Jeffries, Ph.D.,
Program Specialist, 4-H and Youth Development
Cooperative Extension Program

Visit us online at www.pvamu.edu/cahs