Carmen G. Burgos, Extension Specialist
Kathy Finley, 4-H Extension Agent, Robertson County
” Undoubtedly, we would not have some of the programs that we have now without volunteer involvement.”
Kathy Finley has a great working relationship with 4-H members and volunteers in Robertson County. She has worked with Extension as a 4-H agent for 27 years. Thirteen years prior to working as a 4-H agent, Kathy was a 4-H volunteer!
When you see Kathy, she is always smiling and if asked, has something to share about 4-H. Member accomplishments, a new county program/activity or how volunteers are involved creating opportunities for members in the county. When asked what she en- joys the most about working in 4-H, her response was not a surprise, “giving youth opportunities and seeing them develop self-confidence and learn new skills and knowledge.”
Currently, Kathy works with approximately 40 volunteers. She shares that the most rewarding part of working with volunteers is the relationships built as they work towards a common goal – positive youth development. When asked about the impact of engaging volunteers in the county program, Kathy shared the following, “Our youth develop relationships with volunteers: returning camp leaders are requested by campers, and members recognize their 4-H club leaders when they see them out in the community. Our Honor Club members love their volunteer leaders and I believe some youth participation is driven by volunteer presence. Undoubtedly, we would not have some of the programs that we have now without volunteer involvement. There is no way I would have started and continued an Interstate Exchange program without volunteers. With schools in Robertson County requiring 4-H agents to meet four to five clubs at one time, we would probably not meet all the youth that we do without volunteers. The county program would not be able to provide the opportunity for youth to participate in a number of judging teams without volunteers.”
Kathy offers the following best practices she utilizes regarding volunteer involvement.
- For recruiting volunteers – ASK!
- Provide meaningful opportunities for volunteers: trips to volunteer conference gives the agent a chance to “have fun” with volunteers, build relationships and trust, and at the same time learn new ideas from other volunteers and Extension educators they bring back to the county.
- Communication! E-mail information and then text volunteers to look at the e-mail. Utilize Remind Text group for volunteers, a 4-H email group and make phone calls.
- Volunteer recognition: a small gift at the county awards banquet, nominate volunteers for awards annually, such as the Star Volunteer Award (Governor’s office), 4-H Volunteer Leader, 4-H Alumni, and the Hale Master Family Award.
- Retaining volunteers: all of the practices mentioned above plus…. En- courage volunteers, let them know their value to the county 4-H program; invite volunteers to develop new ideas.