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Volunteer development

Volunteers make it possible for young people to become involved in youth programming by providing leadership and mentorship. Learn ways to implement and evaluate volunteer development in your youth program.

Youth Development Insight

Our faculty blog about research, issues and trends in the field. Join the conversation!

  • 6/17

    To be an effective leader, think like a gardener

  • Karyn Santl

    At the recent National Extension Conference on Volunteerism, Jones Loflin gave a keynote speech in which he asked, “How will you grow it when you return home?” Jones speaks globally about innovative yet practical solutions to workplace challenges.

    An author whose books include "Always Growing". Jones made me think about leadership and how to move change forward - even in small ways. He said, "To be an effective leader, think like a gardener." I’m not much of a gardener, but his message stuck with me.

    Grow – Create conditions where others can deliver their best work.

    Cultivate – Determine consistent actions that will help your ideas thrive.

    Read more.

  • 9/16

    To attract minority members, start by recruiting minority volunteers

  • Joshua Rice

    In Minnesota 4-H we've recently been doing a lot of thinking about recruiting first-generation participants -- those whose parents were never involved in 4-H. One question that tends to float to the top of the discussion is how to attract and engage minority populations. This led me to ponder, what are some innovative strategies that could attract first-generation minority youth into 4-H?

    Read more.


See all volunteer development blog posts

Reports & journal articles

Participant Comfort with and Application of Inquiry-Based Learning: Results from 4-H Volunteer Training

Produced by Extension: Heidi Haugen, Anne Stevenson and Rebecca Meyer
This article explores how a one-time training designed to support learning transfer affected 4-H volunteers' comfort levels with the training content and how comfort levels, in turn, affected the volunteers' application of tools and techniques learned during the training. 2016.

4-H Volunteer Online Training Evaluation

Produced by Extension: Shipi Kankane
This formative evaluation was commissioned by the statewide volunteer systems team to understand the value of recent investments by the Extension Center for Youth Development to design and implement a “suite” of online training modules for volunteers. The evaluation was designed to gather information about how volunteers who completed the modules perceive their OTM experience, their opinions about the usefulness of OTM, and the value that they received. 2014.

Development Strategies for Online Volunteer Training Modules: A Team Approach

Produced by Extension: Kari Robideau and Eric Vogel
Volunteers are central to the delivery of 4-H programs, and providing quality, relevant training is key to volunteer success. Online, asynchronous modules are an enhancement to a training delivery menu for adult volunteers, providing consistent, accessible options traditionally delivered primarily face to face. This article describes how Minnesota 4-H focuses on a team approach to the intentional instructional design process used to develop interactive and engaging asynchronous training modules for adult volunteers. The roles and responsibilities of the team members are described along with how this method expedites module development, increases quality, and minimizes costs. 2014.

North Central Region 4-H Volunteers: Documenting Their Contributions and Volunteer Development

Produced by Extension: Pamela Larson Nippolt, Sue Pleskac, Vicki Schwartz, Doug Swanson
Documenting volunteer contributions strengthens Extension partnerships with volunteers. A team of North Central Region 4-H volunteer specialists collaborated to conduct a study of 4-H volunteer contributions and impacts related to working with youth within the 4-H program. Over three thousand (3,332) 4-H volunteers from throughout the 12-state North Central Region completed the survey. Volunteers are critical partners to the success of 4-H, making it possible for millions of young people to have access to 4-H programs. 2012.

Presentation recordings

Using Virtual Communities to Support Volunteer Retention

​​Molly Frendo
Research shows that volunteers who have strong relationships with program staff and with other volunteers are more likely to continue volunteering in their role. However, with reduced resources and cultural shifts that make face-to-face activities harder to sustain, it can be difficult to maintain the same level of relatedness previously afforded to Extension volunteer programs. The advent of Web 2.0 tools offers staff an opportunity to support volunteers in new ways using technology. This session will describe a research study that examined the ways in which an online community housed in eXtension supported volunteer relationships. We will explore the benefit to contributing to the community through conversation and participating more passively through reading the conversations of others. Participants will learn about characteristics of volunteers who flourished in this environment as well as critical components necessary for a virtual community to be successful. 2012.
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