“The Right Tools at the Right Time”: Improving Volunteer Education and Support





4-H, VRKC, volunteer education, volunteer needs, volunteer support


Success of the 4-H Youth Development (4-H) program relies heavily on the recruitment and retention of volunteers who implement 4-H programs. 4-H volunteers—in turn—rely on program professionals to continually improve the education and support systems they need to succeed. In this study, the researchers used a mixed-methods survey based on the 4-H Volunteer Research and Knowledge Competency (VRKC) taxonomy across the Washington State 4-H program to uncover (a) what education volunteers want for themselves and their county program, (b) what challenges they face in their role, and (c) what they need to succeed. The results of this study indicate that program professionals may improve volunteer education and support systems by focusing on 4 essential volunteer needs: (a) supportive teams, (b) engaged youth and families, (c) facilitation skills in experiential education and positive youth development, and (d) effective program administration, communication, and information systems. While this study focuses on 4-H, the results and implications may be relevant to other youth development programs that are charged with educating and supporting adult volunteers.



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