By Katie Wells, Ohio State University Extension Educator for 4-H, Ross County
In 2019, there were 22,933 Ohio 4-H volunteers. Of those, 16,114 were adult volunteers and 6,819 teen volunteers. Why is it that these people are so willing to invest in kids through 4-H?
Perhaps it is because they see youth learning more about themselves, others or a new project area.
Perhaps it is because adults see courage, compassion, resiliency, tenacity, initiative and personal pride springing up in kids.
Perhaps it is because they realize it takes a village to raise a child and they want to be sure the village is a good one.
Perhaps it is because our community works hard head, heart, hands and health to young people and they want kids in on that message. The reasons are endless and unique, but it’s all wrapped up in doing it for the kids.
I love 4-H because of so many big and little things, but one that stands out is every single adult volunteer who unanimously claims their reason for being involved is, “ I do it for the kids.” We see it year-round in the actions of adult volunteers.
“I do it for the kids” really means they send 44 reminder texts, an e-mail, two Facebook posts, and give a handout to remind youth about the next meeting and upcoming dates and deadlines.
“I do it for the kids” really means they’ll get eye-to-eye with your first-year member and answer
1,055 questions to calm their nerves and show up at
their project judging or show to be one more person they can look to for a boost of confidence.
“I do it for the kids” means they will show up at your house and listen to the 12-year-old member excitedly ramble on and on about their project’s details and how proud they are of a seemingly simple accomplishment.
“I do it for the kids” means using personal finances to buy booth decorating supplies, or a
piece of show equipment, or a round of ice cream sundaes as snacks for a meeting, or a bid on a child’s project who doesn’t have a buyer.
“I do it for the kids” means calling a member after a meeting to thank them for their initiative by leading the pledge, suggesting an idea, doing a demonstration on how to polish boots, or helping a new club member feel welcome.
“I do it for the kids” means cheering behind the
scenes or ever-so loudly ringside for the kids and families they have invested in since meeting them as a five-year-old Cloverbud.
It has been a hard year, full of change, disappointment,
frustration, and confusion, but volunteers have embraced the changes that impacted projects and fairs. Fortunately, one thing has
not changed –the age-old 4-H truth of being “in it for the kids.”
Are you someone who could “do it for the kids?”
Learn more about becoming a 4-H volunteer by contacting your county Extension office. Locate your office at https://extension.osu.edu/lao.