Each year, thousands of volunteers in Indiana donate their time and energy to make their communities a better place to live. These volunteers were among the millions across the country spotlighted during the 46th anniversary of National Volunteer Week, April 19- 25, 2020.
Research reported by the Corporation for National and Community Service found that 30% of adult Americans (77.4 million) volunteered 6.9 billion hours of service worth $167 billion in 2018. In 2018 in Indiana, more than 1.81 million volunteers contributed 166.5 million hours of service, valued at $4 billion. 34.9% of Indiana residents volunteered, ranking Indiana 20th among the 50 states and Washington, D.C.
One group that relies heavily on volunteers is the Indiana 4-H Program. In 2020 over 14,000 youth and adults are volunteering in some capacity with 4-H. In LaPorte County, 300+ volunteers, both youth and adult, will serve as club leaders, project leaders, committee members, and in advisory capacities for the 4-H Youth Development Program.
Volunteers spend numerous hours working on tasks, such as helping organize and set-up at the La Porte County Fair, leading a project to serve the community, and helping a child with a 4-H project. The impact La Porte County 4-H makes on its community is dependent on our volunteers. Seventeen-year volunteer 4-H Club Leader Katrina Bohlin recalls an autistic youth in her Club that was non-verbal in public environments. In the youth’s fifth year of 4-H, they began presenting demonstrations to the 4-H Club and its members. Now as a 4-H Alumni Member, they are presenting to co-workers in a very public environment. According to Mrs. Bohlin, “I firmly believe the 4-H program provided this individual the opportunity to develop the skills and strength to be where they are today.”
4-H Program volunteers are just one group of volunteers who are instrumental in carrying out the mission of the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service. Volunteers are involved in every aspect of the Extension Service, including determining the needs of the local residents, planning and implementing programs to address these needs, securing resources, and evaluating programs. An example of these volunteers is the LaPorte 4-H Council. Every day volunteers lend a helping hand to make Extension programs more beneficial to the residents of LaPorte County. Those interested in joining the team of Purdue Extension Volunteers are invited to contact the La Porte County Extension Office at (219) 324-9407.