April marked the start of National Volunteer Appreciation Month and the Monroe County 4-H program shone a spotlight on the activities of its volunteers.
Volunteer roles include leading clubs and manning tables at community events. Some serve on the 4-H Steering Committee or volunteer in the office. Others support youth as evaluators or by teaching a workshop.
To start a community- or school-based club, volunteers adapt and offer 4-H activities on their own to a group of youth they meet with on a regular basis. Clubs promote belonging, generosity, independence and mastery, and allow youth to have a safe and supportive environment as they go about their activities.
Mighty Mondays allow youth to try new skills and experiences each month on various topics, as well as interact with others from around the county. 4-H recruits volunteers to help with the safety and efficiency of these countywide programs.
Ellen Harp volunteered to help 4-H educators Lori Koenick and Jessica Reid with the Mighty Monday for November 2019, which revolved around creativity with apples and pumpkins.
“The pumpkin and apple creations Mighty Monday would not have been the same without the fantastic help from Ellen Harp,” Koenick said. “Her gentle yet detailed approach gave youth confidence to learn new skills. We had new participants to 4-H who did not know one another, and Ellen made them feel comfortable and welcome.”
The Barnes & Noble Book Fair is a fundraiser to support the development of 4-H programs across the county and engage the public in 4-H learning. The bookstore donates a portion of the proceeds from each transaction made with a 4-H coupon, which could be gained by visiting one of the 4-H tables set up in the store. Volunteers staff the tables.
4-H clubs such as the Westside Science and Nature Explorers, the Hilton Horsemen, Posh Ponies, and Busy Bees hosted tables with activities ranging from a bunny meet-and-greet to making balloon animals and decorating cookies at the cafe.
Friends of 4-H also participated. Nick Hadad, of ROC Animal School, dressed up as a reindeer; April Buckley played Mrs. Claus; and Legislator Steve Brew, R-12th District, was Santa Claus. Cornell Cooperative Extension board members represented the association at the information table.
“I would like to give a shout-out to all the 4-H parents who have stepped in to volunteer and lend a hand at our programs and events,” said 4-H Educator Jessica Reid, who organized the event. “We may not always call them volunteers by name, but they are a vital part of the core of volunteers that make Monroe County great.”
Another event is the 4-H Expo, in which volunteers engage visitors with educational activities like an energy bike, maple syrup tasting and environmental awareness.
“From stepping up to help with IT issues when setting up equipment, to assisting youth with activities at Mighty Monday events and encouraging 4-H’ers to try new experiences, they help to inspire the younger generation by serving as an example of the volunteer spirit,” Reid said.
The Monroe County 4-H program is offered through the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Monroe County. Visit monroe.cce.cornell.edu for information.