Why Volunteer?

The mission of Fairfield County 4-H is to help youth Dream and Achieve. We do that by creating a supportive environment, with caring adults, where youth learn leadership, citizenship and life skills.

YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
As a 4-H volunteer you will make a positive contribution to our future. You will help the youth in your 4-H group:

  • Learn leadership and citizenship through projects and activities
    • Feel safe, have fun and be in an environment where they learn at their own pace- on projects that they choose
    • Have the opportunity where youth and adults work together to achieve a common goal

Most importantly, adult volunteers make a positive connection with the youngsters in their group. These adults often become a significant person in the lives of those young people.

What is in it For Me?

Volunteering is satisfying, rewarding and gratifying. Isn’t it rewarding to know that you helped a young person grow into a competent, contributing and productive adult? Doesn’t that give you a special sense of accomplishment? How gratifying is it to know that someone really appreciates what you are doing? Isn’t it satisfying to know that your passions, hobbies, interests and ideas are shared by others?

But the benefits of volunteers go beyond this. As a 4-H volunteer, you will:

  • Meet new people;
    • Travel to new places;
    • Learn new skills;
    • And maybe even learn a thing or two from one of your 4-Hers!

Every year, our Fairfield County 4-H Volunteer Recognition Dinner provides an opportunity to recognize the efforts and hard work of our volunteers. During the dinner, volunteers are recognized for years of service and special accomplishments. There is also a State Volunteer Recognition system.

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Types of Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteers are the key to the success of the Fairfield County 4-H program. Volunteers in 4-H come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, with a wide range of skills. 4-H has many different volunteer roles, so if you have an interest in working with and for young people, 4-H has a spot for you! Fairfield County 4-H volunteers can be club/group leaders, committee members, short course teachers, or resource people.

  1. Club/Group Leaders
    Volunteers may be club leaders with groups of young people. These volunteers help to plan educational programs and organize community service projects to give the youth opportunities to gain life skills like responsibility, record keeping and leadership. And of course they have fun!

To be considered a 4-H group in good standing in Connecticut, an organized group:
• Encourages members to participate in public presentation at the club or district level
• Completes a community service project
• Participates in county fundraising activities
• Promotes record keeping through member’s upkeep of record books
• Offers opportunities which expand member’s horizons, supports their successes and enables them to grow from their mistakes
• Provides an atmosphere where youth feel safe and learn to appreciate, accept and support the uniqueness of others
• Participates in the Fairfield County Fair

  • Submits one captioned picture of their 4-H activities to a local paper

A typical group or club meet at least 6 times a year and has at least 5 enrolled members. Volunteers organize the group and help members conduct their meetings. They serve as role models. They can help members select and teach projects. They can also recruit other community volunteers to help teach specific projects that interest 4-Hers. Click “Interested in Joining” for more information.

What Types of 4-H Groups/Clubs Can I Start?
Life experience and personal interest usually influences the type of group or club a volunteer starts. The possibilities are endless! 4-H offers learning experiences in more than 200 subject matter areas which are divided into 10 emphasis areas:
• Science and Technology
• Plants and Animals
• Consumer and Family Sciences
• Leadership Education
• Healthy Lifestyles
• Personal Development
• Communication and Expressive Arts
• Environmental Education & Earth Science
• Citizenship Education
Looking for ideas? Click here (link to emphasis areas).

  1. 4-H Committee Members
    There are two types of committees in Fairfield County, standing committees and program planning committees. All committees are composed of teens and adults with teens having all the rights and responsibilities of the adults.
  • Members of a program planning committee meet for a short period of time to plan, conduct and then evaluate county activities; activities like the Fairfield County, Public Speaking Day, County fundraising events or our Silly Over Science Day.
  • Members of standing committees usually meet monthly throughout the year. These volunteers help the UConn CES 4-H/Youth Development Educator make decisions that affect the entire county. They play a critical role in the development, implementation and evaluation of county programs. Their job is to help insure that the needs of all young people are being met.
  1. Short Course Teachers
    Some volunteers like a short term commitment, but still want to work directly with youth. A short course teacher teaches a class in their area of interest- coaches for judging teams, woodworking, jewelry making, or digital photography, etc. 4-Hers participating usually come from several clubs.
  2. Resource People
    Resource volunteers volunteer for a very short period – usually 2-6 hours. They serve as workshop presenters, fair evaluators, public speaking evaluators or help with specific projects.

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Volunteer Training

4-H cannot exist without volunteers and is committed to making your experience positive and rewarding. The county and the state provide training opportunities for volunteers in a variety of topics. The UConn 4-H web page has information on training events and activities beyond the county level.

Training specifically designed for new leaders occurs in our county. In addition to a general orientation to 4-H, there are meeting 2-3 times are year to help new leaders meet and learn from other volunteers, and increase their knowledge in 4-H related topics such as awards, helping officers become effective and record keeping.

There are also monthly Leader updates via email. These update provide information on programs and activities.

Training for 4-H Committee Members, Short Course Teachers or Resource People is done as needed.

4-H, as the youth component of the Cooperative Extension System is part of a national network. This network also provides resources for leaders and volunteers.

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How Do I Start?

4-H volunteers receive on-line and face-to face trainings on UConn Extension 4-H and being an effective volunteer for positive youth development.  The check list below outlines the steps you need to follow to become a Volunteer of Record UConn Extension 4-H.

Getting Started Check List

  1. Decide that you want to work with youth as a positive youth development volunteer
  2. Contact the local 4-H Staff
  3. Complete and return the 4-H Volunteer Application Form to your county 4-H office
  4. Upon submission of the 4-H Volunteer Application Form, references will be contacted and a background check will be conducted
  5. Complete the on-line E-learning for 4-H Volunteers
  6. Complete the Connecticut Mandated Reporter Training for Community Providers and present your certificate of completion to your county 4-H office
  7. Once steps 4 -6 have been completed, a face-to-face Orientation about 4-H and being an effective volunteer will be conducted
  8. Once all the steps have been completed, you will receive a confirmation letter in the mail stating that you are a Volunteer of Record with UConn Extension 4-H. You are not a registered 4-H Volunteer of Record with UConn Extension 4-H and are not cleared to meet with youth on your own as part of 4-H until you have received your confirmation letter.
  9. After completion of the orientation, you will be ready to embark upon a new journey- one where you will share your talents and skills with young people, helping them to Dream and Achieve. You will have fun and even discover new things about yourself!

 I Want to be a 4-H Volunteer!

Edith Valiquette, Fairfield County 4-H

67 Stony Hill Rd., Bethel, CT 06801

(203) 207-3264   edith.valiquette@uconn.edu

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Volunteer Job Description

Position Title: 4-H Volunteer Group Leader

Term of Responsibility: 1 year minimum, but volunteers are encouraged to serve for several consecutive years.

Time Commitment: Average of one hour of planning time for every one hour of club activity. Participate in one or more volunteer development opportunities each year.

Purpose: Coordinate the efforts of other volunteers, families, parents and 4-Hers to plan, conduct and evaluate 4-H club meetings, project groups and activities.   Support youth, families, volunteers and 4-H staff in conducting meaningful, educational experiences to help youth grow and reach their fullest potential.

Responsibilities:

As the leader of a 4-H group, it is critical that leaders support the group’s efforts to be in good standing as a Connecticut 4-H group.

  1. Offer opportunities which expand member’s horizons, support their successes and enable them to grow from their mistakes. Be dedicated to youth and be sensitive to their abilities and needs.
  • Help members gain life skills such as decision making, problem solving, self-responsibility, accountability, communication, goal setting, citizenship, caring relationships, leadership, healthy lifestyle choices and career exploration skills in project work.
  • Encourage youth leadership through committees, demonstrations, junior leadership and individual guidance.
  • Encourage youth to learn and experiment with new ideas, techniques and skills.
  • Provide feedback to members, letting them know when they are doing a good job and advising them when they need to improve.
  • Praise youth for the progress they make.
  • Inform and encourage members, parents and other volunteers to actively participate in 4-H opportunities.
  • Ensure that club meetings and activities are educational and that youth are learning using the Experiential Learning Model

 

  1. Provide an atmosphere where youth feel safe and learn to appreciate, accept and support the uniqueness of others. Follow all guidelines and policies of University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension 4-H program
  • Help youth feel welcome and safe from physical or emotional harm.
  • Encourage participation and welcome the ideas of youth and parents.
  • Ensure adequate supervision at all club functions.
  • Encourage membership with regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age or disability.
  • Support members striving to be a club in good standing following the Connecticut 4-H Program guidelines listed below:
  • Encourage members to participate in public presentation at the club or district level
  • Complete a community service project
  • Participate in county fundraising activities
  • Promote record keeping through member’s upkeep of record books
  • Have a project evaluated and receive recognition (example – a county 4-H Fair)
  • Publicize club activities through local or social media
  • Meet at least six times a year

Qualifications:

  • Become a Volunteer of Record with UConn Extension 4-H
  • Possess a sincere interest in the safety and well-being of youth.
  • Possess a sincere interest in working with other volunteers, CES staff, youth, their families and other adults in the community.
  • Have the ability to organize, plan, delegate responsibility and carry out assignments.
  • Be able to work with minimal supervision from professional staff.
  • Be able to communicate with youth, their families and adults.
  • Become familiar with the philosophy and guidelines of UConn Extension.
  • Be sensitive of confidential matters and information.
  • Complete annual club enrollment and reporting paperwork.
  • Seek out resources and information to support club work.
  • Have time to take on the group volunteer role.
  • Be a positive role model for youth.

Resources Available:

UConn Extension provides 4-H Volunteer Club leader training.  Subject matter training and technical support is provided through 4-H curriculum, resource library, county and state 4-H program updates, and other resource materials.

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