April 16-24 is National Volunteer Appreciation Week and we have some amazing volunteers here in the Wisconsin 4-H program! In Wisconsin, we have around 7500 volunteers that are making a difference in the lives of the 4-H youth every day. Through your gift of time, talents, and knowledge, we can reach more youth in our 4-H clubs and groups each year. When we calculate the financial impact of volunteers in Wisconsin, our youth and adult volunteers provide approximately 250,000 hours of service each year, and that is a value of almost $7,000,000 back to our communities statewide!
We can also see the value of volunteers by looking at the impact on our youth. This past fall, our 4-H youth participated in the 4-H Thriving Model Survey to tell staff and stakeholders about their 4-H experiences and how 4-H has impacted them. The 4-H Thriving Model shows that when our youth have caring adults working with and supporting them, a sense of belonging, an opportunity to grow and develop sparks, and being engaged in high-quality programs, they are able to develop long-term positive outcomes for the future. Those components – the caring adults, sparks, belonging, and engagement make up the soil of the flower model. Our 4-H volunteers work hard to create these conditions and create a rich soil for our youth to develop and grow. Our scores on the Thriving Evaluation show how much volunteers impact the youth’s experience. On a 7-point scale (5-6 = high quality, 6-7= very high quality), Caring Adult scored a 5.73. This shows that volunteers are part of that high quality 4-H experience for our youth!
During this Volunteer Appreciation Week, and all throughout the year, we thank you for your efforts and impacts to make 4-H a vibrant and thriving youth organization. Thank you for providing a welcoming, safe, and encouraging space for our youth to learn and grow!