URBANA — Volunteers play a vital role in supporting 4-H youth clubs and programming. University of Illinois Extension’s 4-H youth development program honors its 6,000 volunteers during National Volunteer Week, April 18-24.
“Our volunteers guide our 4-H members in every way,” said Patricia McGlaughlin, University of Illinois Extension 4-H volunteer youth development specialist. “Youth are making a difference in local, state, national and global issues and none of that would be possible without our volunteers.”
National Volunteer Week is an opportunity to recognize the continued impact that volunteers have.
“Volunteers are the lifeblood of our clubs,” said McGlaughlin. “On average, 4-H volunteers give more than eight hours per month to their program. Annually, that time is worth almost $3,000 per volunteer. But the gift of their time, skills and passion is really invaluable to the youth they support.”
4-H clubs and programs benefit from volunteers, but volunteers also benefit from the volunteering experience; gaining skills in teaching, leadership and communication that are useful in their work and lives.
“Most of our volunteers report that they gained useful skills, increased their confidence and made connections in the community,” said McGlaughlin.
“Volunteering is a two-way street in 4-H. Volunteers give to the clubs, but the clubs really give right back.”
There’s no one path to volunteering with 4-H. Ways to volunteer could include leading or beginning a local or special interest club, teaching a skill through workshops, judging projects at fairs and competition, planning or helping at events or serving on club advisory boards.
“There is no one size fits all for our volunteers. There are so many ways that they can make a difference in the lives of young people through 4-H,” said McGlaughlin. “We try to match a volunteer’s unique interests, availability and schedule with a role that will be the most rewarding to them.”
Marshall-Putnam 4-H would like to thank all the volunteers in our counties that have given of themselves to support our 4-H program; from club leaders, to SPIN club leaders, to Shooting Sports instructors, to show superintendents, to judges, to parent and grandparent volunteers, to Expansion and Review committee members, to Unit Council members, to our 4-H & Extension Foundation and to all who support 4-H through donations and supporting our youth.
4-H clubs are always looking for new volunteers to share a passion, skill, talent or time to help impact today’s youth. For more information on 4-H and becoming a 4-H volunteer, contact Anne Scheel at Marshall-Putnam Extension office by calling 309-364-2356.