April 18, 2011

4-H Volunteers

Jean Rogalsky, 4-H Youth Development Agent, Pinellas County Extension
April is National Volunteer Month. 4-H programs throughout the country recognize the importance of their volunteers. It is through our volunteers that we can maintain a high level of program quality and continue to meet the needs of our communities.

There are many types of 4-H volunteers. The 4-H club leader is the one most often thought of, but there are other 4-H volunteer opportunities. Let’s look at some of the volunteer role descriptions:

Organizational Leader
The purpose of the Organizational Leader is to provide leadership and to organize the club itself. Before anyone becomes a 4-H volunteer they must participate in an interview and background screening. This background screening is required of all volunteers working with youth.

The organizational leader is responsible for planning and carrying out the club program under the supervision of the 4-H Agent. This leader does not work alone; Organizational Leaders are encouraged to recruit adult and youth volunteers to assist with the club.

The Organizational Leader promotes the 4-H program and follows 4-H policies, keeping the club inclusive and open to all interested youth. The Leader is the communication hub and makes sure all the county, district and state information coming from the 4-H Office is relayed to the 4-H volunteers and families. Just as importantly, the Organizational Leader provides, enrollments, registrations, and reports to the 4-H Office in a timely manner. In Pinellas County, 4-H club volunteers are required to attend volunteer meetings each year and receive at least six hours of youth development annually.

In Florida, the average 4-H Organizational Leader volunteers for 20 hours a month.

Project Leaders
Project Leaders work in support of the club and county 4-H program, working with and guiding 4-H members with their project work. A Project Leader may assist a club, several clubs, or be available on a countywide basis. A Project Leader can easily control the number of volunteer hours by working with one club or offering to present one or two workshops a year. This leader works cooperatively with other volunteers, sharing his or her project area expertise to the benefit of the 4-H members. An example would be someone who has experience training and showing dogs. This person, under the guidance of the Organizational Leader, would instruct the 4-H’ers and their dogs to improve their training or showing skills. The Project Leader is the educator. The Project Leader is also expected to attend training in the area of youth development and update skills and techniques in the project area. Project Leaders use resources that are consistent with the research and educational materials from the University of Florida.

Activity Leader
The purpose of the this volunteer is to coordinate positive learning activities involving as many of the club members as possible. These activities can be project related or recreational. The Activity Leader needs to have event planning skills and know how to determine the required resources and how to acquire them. This leader needs to be able to delegate tasks to 4-H members (as an educational opportunity) and to other volunteers or parents. Most Activity Leaders assist the Organizational Leader as needed.

Office Volunteers
Office volunteers do not work as closely with youth as other volunteer types, but their work is critical. Every youth program has a lot of forms, from registration forms to permission slips and 4-H is no exception. Office volunteers make copies, organize file folders, prepare for events, and enter data. Office volunteer usually volunteer one day a week for two, three or four hours.

Event Volunteers
Every event needs volunteers and 4-H events require judges, room monitors, registrars, photographers, and tally room workers. Some of these volunteers serve for a day once or twice a year.

Advisory and Foundation Members
Advisory and Foundation members may only meet quarterly, but often they are involved in other 4-H activities. Many times these volunteers are called to be judges for 4-H events or to judge project books.

The function of the Advisory is to help guide the direction of the local 4-H program. Advisory members should have an understanding of concerns and issues related to youth in the community. The function of the Foundation is to raise funds in support of the 4-H program. The Pinellas County 4-H Foundation supports the program through funds for program materials and scholarships for 4-H members to attend out of county events.

Benefits of Being a 4-H Volunteer
4-H volunteers are recognized as being leaders and teachers of youth in the community. They are offered training in personal development, communication, and education on a county, state, and regional level. 4-H volunteers receive recognition each year for their service. Most importantly, every 4-H volunteer is given the opportunity to make a difference in a child’s life.

For more information on the Pinellas County 4-H program, please contact Jean Rogalsky at

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