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University of Illinois Extension celebrates National Volunteer Week

Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 2:05 p.m. CST

The University of Illinois Extension Unit serving Bureau, LaSalle, Marshall and Putnam counties, celebrates National Volunteer Week and the many volunteers that contribute to Extension programming. This year’s theme is “Celebrating People In Action.”

Volunteers serve Extension in many ways, including serving on advisory or planning committees, fundraising and financial support, delivering programs in their communities, and managing and training additional volunteers. Volunteers are involved at some level in nearly every program offered by University of Illinois Extension.

Advisory council volunteers work with staff to oversee and manage Extension’s budget and programming at the local level. The local unit includes three local advisory groups, which each have representatives serving on a multi-county advisory council.

Each county also has fundraising volunteer groups, who work to secure funding for local Extension programs. These volunteers make contacts with local donors and government officials, plan and conduct fundraisers, and ensure that Extension has the funding necessary to continue its programming.

Several of Extension’s program areas offer volunteers opportunities to plan and provide direct programming to local residents. Volunteers are able to share their expertise with others, and help Extension to reach additional audiences with programming and provide programs in diverse and exciting areas.

The 4-H Youth Development program relies on the support of adult and youth volunteers to offer fun, hands-on educational programming for youth ages 5-18. Expansion and Review Committee members provide input about local needs and interests of the youth, and help shape the course of local youth program offerings. 4-H Club and Group leaders lead groups of youth in learning experiences and provide positive youth development experiences. 4-H Fair volunteers, including judges and superintendents, work to provide a culminating experience for youth to share what they have learned and evaluate project results. Volunteers also lead short-term programs for youth, provide workshops in a variety of areas, and plan and lead special events and summer programs. 4-H Youth Development volunteers ensure that local youth have opportunities to feel a sense of belonging, develop independence, practice generosity and experience mastery.

Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists provide education in the areas of horticulture and natural resources, and also help beautify the community through gardening and environmental stewardship programs. These volunteers educate others about home horticulture and natural resources, may be able to provide advice about their areas to local residents, teach groups of youth, plan and carry out community planting projects, and more.

Extension also has many volunteer-led supporting groups, including Extension Foundations and Building Associations, which provide necessary support and resources to carry out these research-based programs across the four-county area.

Volunteers in the Home and Community Education Association (a separate organization) also assist Extension with a variety of programs and services. They receive training from Extension educators and re-teach educational programs to their own local units. They also work with Extension to provide additional programming in the Family Life area, and many assist with 4-H and/or Master Gardener programs.

Volunteers also serve Extension in other ways, by helping at a specific event, assisting with program registration, or providing expertise and input on local issues and ideas for new programming.

For more information on volunteering with University of Illinois Extension, contact a local Extension office or visit http://web.extension.illinois.edu/blmp.

The mission of the University of Illinois Extension - Bureau, LaSalle, Marshall, Putnam Unit is to deliver quality, relevant educational information in a fiscally responsible manner. The goal is to help people develop skills; solve problems; and improve their families, farms, businesses, and communities. The University of Illinois Extension provides unbiased research-based information to local residents.

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