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Program volunteers always needed

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Each year, thousands of volunteers in Indiana donate time and energy to make their communities a better place to live.

Research conducted by the Corporation for National and Community Service found 26.5 percent of adult Americans volunteered 8.1 billion hours of service worth $173 billion in 2010. In Indiana, approximately 1.4 million volunteers contributed 181.6 million hours of service. The 36.9 hours volunteered per resident ranks Indiana 22nd among the 50 states and Washington, D.C.

One group that relies heavily on volunteers is the Indiana 4-H Program.

In 2010, more than 20,000 youth and adults volunteered in some capacity with 4-H. In Clay County, 127 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 difference between 4-H and other youth serving organizations is the ability for members to work one-on-one with adult volunteers," Extension Educator for 4-H Youth Development Tammy Steiner said. "The volunteers of the program give so much of their time to make sure members have learning experiences that they otherwise would not get."

Volunteers spend numerous hours working on tasks, such as helping organize an event at the county fair, helping a child with a 4-H project or leading a project to serve the community.

"I think it is important to be a volunteer because without volunteers, our country/community would not be where it is today," Clay County 4-H volunteer Kenna Slough said. "A volunteer not only enriches the lives of others, but others enrich the lives of the volunteer as well. Making a difference in the lives of others, young and old, helping the community and learning from the interactions I have made with the people I meet is why I became a volunteer."

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 the needs, securing resources and evaluating programs.

An example of these volunteers is the Clay County Extension Board. The 14-member board, which consists of elected county citizens, works with the county Extension staff to plan and oversee Extension activities.

"The Extension Board members dedicate their time and energy toward bringing the needs of the community to the attention of the educators," Clay County Extension Director and Extension Educator Ag and Natural Resources Jenna Smith said.

"They support the programs the educators develop and assist with major events, including Ag Day celebrations."

The work of Extension volunteers is continuous. Every day, volunteers lend a helping hand to make Extension programs more beneficial to the residents of the county.

Those interested in joining the team of Extension Volunteers are invited to call the Clay County Extension Office at 448-9041 or e-mail tasteine@purdue.edu.

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