Every 4-H club is expected to conduct community service projects, though sometimes the logistics of integrating volunteerism into animal science projects may feel daunting.
How can 4-H members in animal project areas feel that they are contributing to their communities?
Public libraries, senior centers or living facilities, daycares, and religious institutions often make requests to the County Extension office, asking for visits from animals for their clientele to enjoy. Make sure your club is aware of the requests being fielded by your county program. Are these opportunities posted on bulletin boards or your program’s Facebook page, or are they emailed out in a monthly newsletter? (If no such resource exists, perhaps your club could take on organizing these community requests as service to your county program!)
If 4-H members don’t own the animal their project is based on, or their animal doesn’t travel easily for visits (such as horse, swine, or cattle), they can still highlight their learning in their animal science area by speaking publicly to interested community groups.
Kiwanis clubs famously welcome guest speakers, and may even treat your 4-H’er to breakfast after they deliver their public presentation on animal science. Other adult community service groups such as your local chapter of the Lions Club similarly invite youth to present their projects at their meetings, and they often make donations to youth development organizations as well.
The benefits of these community-based service projects are many. These projects:
- Give 4-H members more practice showing their animals and in public speaking
- Highlight the accomplishment of the 4-H program on a county level or broader
- Keep your program connected to other agencies in the community
- Encourage 4-H members to live out the Mission Mandate of Citizenship
- Help 4-H members feel more connected to the communities they live in
However your animal project clubs donate their time and expertise to their communities, one thing is certain; 4-H’ers can use volunteer opportunities to make the best better!
By Laura Eppinger, Ocean County 4-H Program Associate, Rutgers Cooperative Extension