Identification of Priority Skill Areas for Volunteer Professional Development


  • Car Mun Kok University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • Dorina M. Espinoza University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • Steven M. Worker University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • Charles Go University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • JoLynn C. Miller University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources



volunteer skill development, volunteer professional development


Youth development programs often rely on volunteers to deliver programming to young people. Our study explored the skills and competencies volunteers self-identified as important for their roles. We analyzed qualitative responses to 2 open-ended questions asking University of California 4-H volunteers to identify priority skills to aid in their volunteer development. Using inductive thematic analysis, we developed a coding scheme to analyze 1,144 responses. Participants reported the need for professional development in content-specific areas, program management basics, and child development. Volunteers also reported desiring training in educational practices, organizational skills, specific volunteer roles, and communication skills. The modalities through which volunteers were willing to develop these skills were peer-to-peer learning; online, in-person, classes and conferences; and continuous education. Given the importance of adult volunteers to youth development programs, it is essential that volunteers’ professional and skill development be supported by both effective and preferred approaches.

Author Biographies

Car Mun Kok, University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources

4-H Youth Development Advisor, Ph.D.

Dorina M. Espinoza, University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources

4-H Youth Development Advisor, Ph.D.

Steven M. Worker, University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources

4-H Youth Development Advisor, Ph.D.

Charles Go, University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources

4-H Youth Development Advisor, Ph.D.

JoLynn C. Miller, University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources

4-H Youth Development Advisor, M.S.


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