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Leadership & Volunteer Development

Washington State University (WSU) Volunteer Development Action Team

A major endeavor identified in the Washington State 4-H Strategic Plan was the formation of the Volunteer Development Action Team (VDAT). VDAT was charged with reviewing the present WSU’s Extension volunteer training and development programs and to determine what action was needed to:

  • provide materials suitable for all 4-H delivery modes,
  • streamline volunteer leader training materials, and
  • provide easy access in distributing and updating basic information for volunteer leader training.

The Washington 4-H Program has over 9,286 adult volunteers and 976 youth volunteers. These volunteers were in critical need of orientation and on-going skill building leadership training. All adult 4-H volunteers need basic knowledge and understanding of the 4-H youth development program to serve as youth leaders. A body of knowledge exists to support the knowledge and teaching methods they need regardless of the 4-H delivery mode in which they participate. Core competencies exist at the national level for 4-H professionals. Limited travel budgets encourage considering alternative distance delivery methods for training 4-H professionals and volunteers. Duplication of effort occurs because similar 4-H volunteer training is conducted in nearly every county. Appropriate distance delivery methods may reduce the duplication that now occurs and allows county 4-H professionals time to pursue other tasks.

Impact: Statewide training events were conducted for professional faculty and staff and a uniform training methodology was implemented across Washington. To increase the effectiveness of volunteer training, VDAT developed seven training modules which are available online. Over 2,627 adult volunteers and 630 youth volunteers participated in training at the county/district/state levels and were direct recipients of the VDAT work. Better-trained volunteers are better prepared to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse and challenged youth population.

As part of the Land-Grant University System, Washington State University receives Smith-Lever formula grants from NIFA to establish Cooperative Extension programs, such as the one discussed here.


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