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Extension > Local Extension Offices > Olmsted > 4-H > Articles > Message from Dorothy: Volunteers help youth learn and discover.

Message from Dorothy: Volunteers help youth learn and discover.

Dear 4-H families and volunteers,

In 4-H, youth collaborate with caring adults to explore hands-on learning in topics like science, health, agriculture, citizenship, and the arts. Volunteers provide a positive environment where youth learn by doing.

Last year, 11,000 volunteers from every Minnesota county and tribal community generously gave their time and enthusiasm to foster learning and discovery in 69,000 4-H’ers. Volunteers are essential to the 4-H experience.

Sharing passion, growing understanding

Julie Holst has been a 4-H volunteer in Mower County for nearly 20 years. She’s a nurse practitioner who loves helping young people expand their knowledge of nutrition, health, and wellness through animal science experiences. Julie coaches 4-H Project Bowl teams, a program focused on youth learning and teamwork.

“Once a child is exposed to Project Bowl, learning gets in their system,” Julie commented. “They learn so much. It’s an honor and privilege to work with youth in this program.”

No matter how much knowledge a young person brings to a team, Julie makes sure they grow in both passion and understanding. “Everyone learns differently, so I provide as many different learning experiences as possible,” said Julie. “We are hands-on whenever possible. Touching and exploring are critical for deep understanding.”

A willingness to learn is what’s most important

Danielle Lake Diver is a new volunteer with the Nahgahchiwanong Fond du Lac 4-H tribal youth program.  She meets weekly with 4-H’ers at the Cloquet Community Center, helping them identify topics of interest and connect to resources that build their knowledge and skills.

“Our youth are interested in cooking and robotics this year. It’ll be fun to help them learn new things. I don’t know anything about robots, so I guess I’ll be learning right alongside the kids!”

This openness to discover in collaboration with young people is core to our learning-by-doing approach. Our youth don’t need experts as much as they need caring supporters and mentors. People who believe in their ability to learn and innovate. “I’ve learned that my presence makes a difference,” Danielle said recently. “It matters way more than what I know. When you volunteer, you can learn as you go. What matters most is that you’re there.”

We wouldn’t be 4-H without you

I am proud of all the ways that caring adults in 4-H foster learning and discovery in our young people. Thank you for giving of yourself. Thank you for sharing your passion, knowledge, and willingness to learn. You are making a difference. I cannot even begin to imagine what Minnesota 4-H would be without you.

With gratitude,

Dorothy M. Freeman
Associate dean and state 4-H director

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