BEDFORD – 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 48th anniversary of National Volunteer Week, April 17- 23, 2022.
Research reported by the Corporation for National and Community Service found that 30% of adult Americans (77.3 million) volunteered 6.9 billion hours of service worth $166.9 billion in 2020. In 2018 in Indiana, more than 1.81 million volunteers contributed 166.5 million hours of service, valued at $4 billion. 34.9% of Indiana residents volunteered, ranking Indiana 20th among the 50 states and Washington, D.C.
One group that relies heavily on volunteers is the Indiana 4-H Program. In 2021 over 13,000 youth and adults are volunteering in some capacity with 4-H. In Lawrence County, 150+ 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.
“The importance of quality volunteers in our organization cannot be emphasized enough. Our program would not exist to meet the needs of our over 500 youth without them. They help create relationships between youth and caring adults that will positively impact our young people for the rest of their lives. It is a key pillar in positive youth development, which our young people need now more than ever,” Lesley Lodmell, County Extension Director (CED), 4-H Youth Development Extension Educator.
Volunteers spend numerous hours working on tasks, such as helping a child with a 4-H project, leading a project to serve the community, or helping organize an event at the county fair.
“Being a 4-H Volunteer gives me the opportunity to interact with and invest in the youth in my community. I love seeing a 4-H member connect with a skill or project that they are excited about. 4-H taught me, as a kid, that I could be a leader too, even when I didn’t think I could. It brings me joy and satisfaction to help our community’s youth to learn how to lead their peers and to learn new skills,” Amanda Wilson, 4-H volunteer, 4-H Council member, and club
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 Lawrence County Extension Board. The 14-member board, which consists of appointed county citizens, works with the county Extension staff to plan and oversee Extension activities.
“The members who serve on the Lawrence County Extension Board are diverse in their backgrounds and expertise but they all genuinely care about the residents of Lawrence County, which is ultimately why they volunteer their time to serve as board members. We are fortunate to have not only the board members but all individuals who serve as program volunteers,” Ophelia Davis, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Extension Educator.
The work of Extension volunteers is continuous. Every day volunteers lend a helping hand to make Extension programs more beneficial to the residents of Lawrence County. Those interested in joining the team of Extension Volunteers are invited to contact the Lawrence County Extension Office at 812-275-4623 or visit extension.purdue.edu/lawrence for more information.