Volunteer Appreciation Week

    Have you thanked a volunteer recently? Each year thousands of volunteers in Montana donate their time and energy to make their communities a better place to live. These volunteers will be among the millions across the country who will be spotlighted during the 41st anniversary of National Volunteer Week, April 12-18.

Submitted by Caden Dukart

   Research conducted by the Corporation for National and Community Service found that 26.5 percent of adult Americans (64.5 million) volunteered a massive 7.9 billion hours of service worth $175 billion in 2012. In Montana, approximately 6,000 volunteers contributed millions of hours of service on statewide projects. This figure, however, does not take into account for the thousands of individual community members, businesses, and organizations who donate their time and energy on the local level.

   One group that relies heavily on volunteers is the Montana 4-H Program. Montana 4-H is the youth development organization for the Montana State University Extension Service. In 2013 nearly 4,000 youth and adults volunteered in some capacity with 4-H. In Fallon and Carter Counties alone, well over 50 adult volunteers will serve as club leaders, project leaders, committee members, and advisors to around 150 youth involved in 4-H activities and projects.

   In my nine years as a 4-H member, I have seen first-hand the amount of time and effort local volunteers spend working on a variety of tasks, such as helping organize events and activities, helping members with their 4-H projects, and assisting with the organizational aspects of 4-H programs. 4-H volunteers are community members, employees, and parents, many of whom have several decades of service experience and take time out of their busy schedules to make our communities better places to live and our youth better people. Many volunteers are past members and understand the importance of living up to the 4-H motto, “to make the best better”.

   We really are lucky to have the service of these volunteers in 4-H and other organizations, so please remember this week to thank and show appreciation for the hard, and often unrecognized time and effort volunteers put in to benefit our youth and communities.