Each year, thousands of volunteers in Indiana donate their time and energy to make their communities a better place to live. These volunteers will be among the millions across the country who will be spotlighted during the 42nd anniversary of National Volunteer Week, April 10 – 16, 2016.
Research conducted by the Corporation for National and Community Service found that 25.3% of adult Americans (62.8 million) volunteered 7.9 billion hours of service worth $184 billion in 2014. In Indiana approximately 1.28 million volunteers contributed 135.9 million hours of service, valued at $3.1 billion. Twenty-seven percent of Indiana residents volunteered raking Indiana 24th among the 50 states and Washington D.C.
One group that relies heavily on volunteers is the Indiana 4-H Program. In 2015 nearly 18,000 youth and adults volunteered in some capacity with 4-H. In Huntington County, over 200 volunteers, both youth and adult, will serve as club leaders, project leaders, committee members, and in advisory capacities for the 4-H Youth Development Program.
According to Rae Ann O’Neill, 4-H Youth Development, Extension Educator for Huntington County, “We could not have a 4-H program if it was not for all of the volunteers! It takes thousands of hours of work to provide the club meetings and instruction; take care of the Fair Grounds; and put on the 4-H Fair. This does not include all the fund raising and working with donors for the financial support that it takes for the program. The Purdue Extension is the foundation to the program but we would not be able to ‘build’ the experience for our youth without the volunteers”.
4-H Program volunteers are just one group of volunteers who are instrumental in carrying out the mission of the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service. Volunteers are involved in every aspect of the Extension Service, including determining the needs of the local residents, planning and implementing programs to address these needs, securing resources, and evaluating programs.
An example of these volunteers is the Huntington County Extension Board. The 16 member board, which consists of appointed county citizens, works with the county Extension staff to plan and oversee Extension activities.
Purdue Extension Huntington County has a Facebook page as well as their web page where you can check out the opportunities that are available through Extension. “We are always in need of new volunteers. We try to offer workshops and experiences that will help youth and adults to have FUN while they are learning,” O’Neill continued.
The work of Extension volunteers is continuous. Every day volunteers lend a helping hand to make Extension programs more beneficial to the residents of Huntington County. Those interested in joining the team of Extension Volunteers are invited to contact the Huntington County Extension Office at 260-358-4826 or visit us at 1340 S Jefferson, Huntington, IN.