University of Illinois Extension 4-H Youth Development takes great pride in the quality of its adult leadership. Being a registered volunteer in the 4-H youth development program is a privilege, not a right. The quality of the 4-H program and safety of our youth members requires that the selection of volunteers be taken seriously and that our organization work to recruit the best possible volunteers.
Volunteers are the backbone of the 4-H program. They are the organizers, teachers, and counselors who make the program available to youth. Utilizing volunteers effectively can assure the success of the local program. Positive youth development research shows the importance of caring adults in the lives of young people. Contact your local Extension office for details about the following volunteer opportunities or access the information on the county Extension web page.
The formal roles volunteers fill at the local level fall into three general categories: organizational leaders, project leaders, and activity leaders. Organizational leaders provide overall leadership to club or group organization, overseeing the structure and operation, and serving as the club/group's contact with Extension staff and county/unit volunteers. They involve and coordinate activities of other volunteers who support the club/group. Project and activity leaders help members plan and conduct projects and group activities.
Volunteers can help with tasks that take place throughout the year and with tasks that can be completed in a short time period. There are volunteer roles working directly with 4-H members and others that support the club behind the scenes. The most successful clubs/groups encourage each member's family to take on volunteer roles, each contributing what it can.
At the county level, the 4-H program also needs volunteers to give guidance to policy and priority setting in administrative roles, to conduct or assist with county-level events, and to provide leadership to program expansion and promotion.
At the state level, volunteers are needed for a variety of events and activities as well as to serve on planning and advisory committees such as the Illini Summer Academies Planning Committee, State Fair Junior Department Advisory Committee, and as chaperones for state events.