4-H Leaders, the best volunteers in the world!
Volunteers, parents and other adults are a valued and essential part of the San Diego County 4-H Youth Development Program (4-H YDP), and have a profound impact on the life trajectory of 4-H members. Serving as an adult volunteer is a privilege and at the invitation of the University of California and San Diego County 4-H. Volunteer participation is supervised by the county 4-H YDP staff and county director.
It is the responsibility of the 4-H YDP to identify, screen, select, train and support 4-H adult volunteers so they can successfully carry out their duties. Adult volunteer appointments are made annually, after reviewing program needs, as well as quality of service and past performance of the volunteer. The policies set forth in this chapter are designed to assure that the 4-H YDP engages caring, competent, and effective volunteers and provides a satisfying and rewarding experience for the adult volunteer that is beneficial to California 4-H members.
People volunteer with 4-H for many reasons. One obvious benefit is to help guide and mentor our country’s future citizens and leaders. Volunteers also develop new leadership skills, meet new friends, and have great adventures.
Adult volunteers leaders play an important role in 4-H youth education programs. They coordinate local community clubs and help to plan and conduct local, regional, state, and national 4-H events.
4-H volunteers help 4-Hers to:
- Learn by doing
- Develop leadership and life skills
- Make new friends
- Give back to the community
- Build connections with others
- Prepare, do, and share.
Types of Volunteers in the 4-H Youth Development Program
4-H volunteer leaders are both youth and adults. Whether working year-round or for a short period of time, there are many ways to get involved with a group of youth.
- A 4-H club team, general or Community Club leader provides overall leadership to the club, oversees the group structure and operation, while serving as the club's contact with County Staff and the 4-H County Council. They coordinate members, parents and other leaders. 4-H club leaders act as individuals, a team or a group of people, each of whom fill specific roles and responsibilities. The team can also be a youth-adult partnership.
- A project leader teaches members in a specific project area, such as rabbits, computers or fashion review.
- An activity leader helps members plan and conduct group activities such as community service, recreation, fundraising or drama.
- A resource leader serves as a resource to leaders or members in a specific project or activity area.
- A teen, junior or youth leader is an older 4-H member who develops leadership skills by teaching other 4-H members. Teen leaders gain experience teaching, working with others and taking on responsibilities under the guidance of an adult volunteer.
- An Afterschool or school enrichment volunteer teaches 4-H curriculum, such as gardening, science or arts and crafts, to an Afterschool group or school class(es).
- A short-term volunteer teaches a special interest program, such as babysitting, first aid or flower arranging, and/or assists a 4-H group with a special project.
- A chaperone leads a group of youth at 4-H Camp, or state and national leadership conferences or contests.
- 4-H County Council is a leader organization that supports their county 4-H program through one or more of the following ways:
- provide opportunity for volunteers to receive feedback on questions, problems, etc.
- conduct programs and activities for youth
- offer in-service training on youth development
- raise funds and manage a budget to support 4-H youth development work
- coordinate county-level recognition
- represent 4-H youth development to the community
- provide opportunities for youth and volunteers
- help decide program direction and policy
- increase awareness about 4-H opportunities on local, county, area, state and national levels
How to become a 4-H Leader
"When adults take time to help young people through 4-H, they exert an enormous, postitive influence on the lives of youth."
~ Retired General Colin Powell
Inspiring young minds to think critically and creatively.. Witnessing the tears of a victory.. Receiving a thank-you hug for years of caring.. Even a simple smile on a young person's face is often enough to remind 4-H volunteers of the good they are doing.
There are more than 20,000 adult volunteers in California, and 518,000 volunteers nation-wide. Supported by 4-H staff, these volunteers help youth develop into responsible, self-directed, productive citizens of the world.
Volunteer leaders are a key component of the 4-H program, which focuses on citizenship, leadership, and life skills development using a "learn-by-doing" educational model. 4-H is unique in its pursuit of effective youth-adult partnerships. These partnerships ensure that both youth and adults grow together in shared responsibility and decision-making. This 4-H volunteer echoes a common sentiment, stating, "As a 4-H leader, I have truly received as much from the program as my children have."
In addition to making a difference in the lives of young people, volunteers have many opportunities for their own personal and professional development through the 4-H Youth Development Program. As one volunteer said, "The most memorable aspect of being a 4-H volunteer leader is the quality of the 4-H program as an education vehicle. I grew in self confidence and have since gone back to school to complete a Masters degree and teaching credential."
No matter your background or expertise, you can join the 4-H community. As a parent, a project leader, or in any other leadership capacity, you can offer your unique talents and perspectives.
Please contact the San Diego County 4-H enrollment coordinator, at 858-614-7605, or your local community club leader on how you can volunteer to become a 4-H volunteer leader.
Volunteer leaders work with small groups of youth to carry out experiential learning ("learning-by-doing") activities. These activities enable youth to develop life skills, build competencies, explore career options, contribute to their communities, and prepare them for a positive and successful place in society. At the club level, adult volunteers may take on the following positions (download Adobe Acrobat Reader free at http://www.adobe.com to view and print these PDF files):
Community Leader or Assistant Community Leader -- Click on Organizational Unit Volunteer Description
Project Leader or Assistant Project Leader -- Click on Project Volunteer Description
Activity Coordinator or Event Coordinator -- Click on Activity or Event Volunteer Description
There are also volunteer opportunities at the county level where your time and talents would be greatly appreciated.
Volunteer leaders must be at least 18 years old, additional age restrictions apply for certain roles and responsibilities. (For example, event chaperones must be at least 25 years old.) In order to provide a safe environment for youth, all prospective 4-H volunteers are required to:
- Complete online enrollment;
- Complete California Department of Justice (DOJ) background screening via the LiveScan electronic fingerprinting; and
- Complete orientation and child safety training
Volunteer's 4-H Pledge
I pledge my Head to give youth the information I can, to help them see things clearly and to make wise decisions.
I pledge my Heart to encourage and support youth no matter whether they have successes or disappointments.
I pledge my Hands to help youth groups; if I cannot be a leader, I can help in many equally important ways.
I pledge my Health to keep youth strong and well for a better world through 4-H, for youth groups, our community, our country and our world.