Volunteers are vital to 4-H programming. Without their endless support 4-H youth development programs could not exist. Volunteers host meetings, teach project content, plan and organize events, and dedicate many hours of program assistance. Below are a few resources to help volunteers be successful in 4-H.
What is Youth Development?
Youth Development is a process in which adolescents develop cognitive, social, and emotional skills and abilities required to navigate through life. Positive youth development occurs when youth participate in activities that promote life skills such leadership, citizenship, character, responsibility, sense of belonging, and empowerment. Positive youth development environments have adult mentors who help guide youth in directions that develop these life skills Adults volunteers provide youth with experiential learning processes or "hands-on" activities via community clubs and project clubs. The Ages and Stages of Youth Development handout can help volunteers plan their activities and meetings based on the different stage levels of the youth. To learn more about youth development, please refer to University of Minnesota Cooperative Extension's websites, Understanding Youth Development Work and Keys to Quality Youth Development.
What is Experiential Learning?
Experiential learning is a process through which youth and adults develop knowledge, skills, and values from direct experiences outside a traditional academic setting. In 4-H, experiential learning encompasses a variety of activities including raising livestock, conducting science experiments, service learning, learning how to cook or sew, and other creative experiences offered through 4-H projects.
While there are Five Steps of Experiential Learning, experiential learning must also include:
- A designed learning experience that includes the possibility to learn from natural consequences, mistakes, and successes
- Opportunities for students to take initiative, make decisions, and be accountable for the results
- Opportunities for students to engage intellectually, creatively, emotionally, socially, or physically
- Reflection, critical analysis and synthesis
- Opportunity to apply new knowledge gained in reflection to a different situation or real-world problem
Experiential learning experiences should target various 4-H life skills. These life skills are identified in the Targeting Youth Life Skills Model.
To learn more about experiential learning, check out UC-Davis Cooperative Extension's Experiential Learning website.
Tools for Success
Volunteers are often conducting meetings with youth, as well as adults. Sometimes meetings can get off-track. Here is a list of Effective Meeting Tips to help your meeting run more efficiently.
Leadership and Teaching Techniques can be handy in working with youth. Volunteers have to teach many different projects, sometimes in many different ways. This guide can help you discover different teaching methods and styles.
Become a Volunteer
To become a Volunteer for LaPorte County 4-H, read the Volunteer Application Instructions and complete an Volunteer Application. All volunteers must complete the Youth Safety and Reporting Child Abuse Training Module before they can be approved as a volunteer. The module is located in 4Honline and instructions on how to complete the module can be found here.