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Volunteers at the heart of Illinois 4-H

Thursday, April 15, 2021

April 15, 2021

Urbana, Ill. – Volunteers play a vital role in supporting 4-H youth clubs and programming.  University of Illinois Extension’s 4-H youth development program honors its 6,000 volunteers during National Volunteer Week, April 18-24.

“Our volunteers guide our 4-H members in every way,” says Patricia McGlaughlin, University of Illinois Extension 4-H volunteer youth development specialist. “Youth are making a difference in local, state, national, and global issues and none of that would be possible without our volunteers.”

National Volunteer Week is an opportunity to recognize the continued impact that volunteers have. “Volunteers are the lifeblood of our clubs,” says McGlaughlin. “On average, 4-H volunteers give more than eight hours per month to their program. Annually, that time is worth almost $3,000 per volunteer. But to the youth they support, their gift of time, skills, and passion is really invaluable.”

4-H clubs and programs benefit from volunteers, but volunteers also benefit from the volunteering experience; gaining skills in teaching, leadership, and communication that are useful in their work and lives. 

“Most of our volunteers report that they gained useful skills, increased their confidence, and made connections in the community,” says McGlaughlin. “Volunteering is a two-way street in 4-H. Volunteers give to the clubs, but the clubs really give right back.”

There’s no one path to volunteering with 4-H. Ways to volunteer could include leading or beginning a local or special interest club, teaching a skill through workshops, judging projects at fairs and competition, planning or helping at events, or serving on club advisory boards.

“There is no one size fits all for our volunteers.  There are so many ways that they can make a difference in the lives of young people through 4-H, “ says McGlaughlin. “We try to match a volunteer’s unique interests, availability, and schedule with a role that will be the most rewarding to them.”

4-H clubs are always looking for new volunteers to share a passion, skill, talent, or time to help impact today’s youth. For more information on 4-H and becoming a 4-H volunteer, contact your local Illinois Extension office.

About Illinois 4-H: Illinois 4-H is the flagship youth development program of University of Illinois Extension and administered through the College of Agriculture, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences.4-H grows true leaders, youth who are empowered for life today and prepared for a career tomorrow. The hands-on approach in 4-H gives young people guidance, tools and encouragement, and then puts them in the driver’s seat to make great things happen. Independent research confirms the unparalleled impact of the 4-H experience, demonstrating that young people are four times more likely to contribute to their communities; two times more likely to make healthier choices; two times more likely to be civically active; and two times more likely to participate in STEM programs. 

About Extension:  Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities. 

For Further Information, Contact:

Source:  Patricia McGlaughlin, University of Illinois Extension Specialist Volunteer Development,

Writer:  Carissa Nelson, Media Communications Manager, 4-H State Office,