National Volunteer Week – 4-H Volunteers

By Sara Conant, 4-H Community Education Assistant & Administrative Specialist

sheep and 4-H youth exhibiting at a fairIn honor of National Volunteer Week we would like to highlight our 4-H volunteers! 4-H is a national organization for youth ages 9-18 to learn life skills through hands on work in a variety of project areas. 4-H programming occurs in libraries, afterschool clubs, through classroom enrichment with 4-H Science Toolkits, at 4-H Camps, and in 4-H Clubs. Community 4-H Clubs are the signature 4-H activity in most all of Maine, but particularly in Cumberland County where we have the largest club program in Maine with 22 4-H clubs, focusing on a variety of topics.

Those who call our office looking for 4-H programs usually assume that each club and activity is run by our staff. While many of our outreach programs for libraries and afterschool organizations, as well as our 4-H Special Interest Summer Clubs are taught by either Mitch Mason, Extension Educator, or Sara Conant, 4-H Community Asst., the truth is our signature 4-H activity, community clubs, could not happen without our 80 volunteers. While I love petting a fluffy lamb, or fuzzy beef critter, and enjoy my time spent at the fair monitoring these shows, I know I am not the person you want teaching your children about how to pick out a livestock animal with good confirmation, and prepare it for a show, etc. I leave that up to our wonderful, knowledgeable volunteers. For the programs that I teach, including our 4-H Summer Special Interest clubs in horses and foods, I stick to what I know well.

Our club leaders and volunteers consist of former 4-H members, parents of both current & past 4-Her’s, and other community members who believe in our mission of creating positive experiential learning experiences for youth. Volunteers must be 18+ and go through a series of steps and trainings to become a 4-H certified volunteer but the whole process only takes about six hours to complete and much of it can be done at your own pace. To learn more about the requirements to become a 4-H volunteer please visit How Do I Become a Volunteer?.

4-H volunteers are club leaders, project leaders, or episodic volunteers (serving on various committees including the Awards Committee, 4-H Kitchen at the Cumberland Fair, 4-H Exhibit Hall Committee at the Cumberland Fair and more). To learn more about the various volunteer opportunities available in Cumberland County 4-H please visit 4-H Volunteer Opportunities.

In addition to adult volunteers we also have teen volunteers. Along with leadership roles that most 4-H clubs offer their members, we also offer two distinct programs available for teens who want to expand their leadership toolbox. In the Summer teens can volunteer for our Summer of Science Program to teach youth at local Summer Food Sites science activities one day a week for six weeks. The SOS program is open to 4-H and non-4-H teens and gives them the tools to become teachers and leaders to younger youth. Throughout the year we also offer the Teen Council for youth to help plan both Winterfest (awards ceremony), and Mini-Forum (a day of workshops). Teen Council members are current 4-H members from a variety of clubs who come together to learn event planning & management skills, organization, public speaking, and more.

For more information about any of the volunteer opportunities mentioned or any of our other 4-H programs please email or call Sara Conant,, 207.781.6099.