For our final post of 2021, we invited Alicia Criswell, Purdue Extension Educator (4-H Youth Development) to be our guest blogger. Hear what she has to say on “kids these days” and reach out to her in the new year for your volunteer needs:

I’d be willing to bet that I hear some version of “Kids these days don’t/won’t/can’t _________” a minimum of 10 times each week. But let me tell you, I know better!

Friends, if the youth who I have the privilege of working with everyday are any indication, our future is in good hands.

My Kids

I admittedly have a very unique perspective into the efforts of youth in our community. As the 4-H Youth Development Educator here in Wayne County, I have the pleasure of working with nearly 950 youth who range in age from kindergarten through seniors in high school.

Each of these nearly 950 youth are “my kids” and I hold them dear to my heart. They are amazing kids! They give and they do so generously and to the very best of their abilities.

In nearly every community partnership that I belong to, I find myself saying at some point, “If you need kids to help, count us ‘in.’”

Seriously, when there is a need, I can send out a single email to our “force” and within minutes, I can nearly guarantee that I’ll have anywhere from 10-30 willing volunteers. Our kids “show up” and they live the 4 “H’s” of “Head, Hands, Heart, and Health.”

If you need tables cleaned, I have an army of kindergarten, first, and second graders who will use no less than 25 gallons of water to clean as many tables. But you better believe that those will be 25 of the cleanest tables you’ve ever seen!

Need bleachers power washed? I’ve got 15 middle schoolers who can have that task completed in less than 30 minutes and will do it with smiles and laughter.

Need to figure out a complex problem that needs fresh perspective? I have 10 high school youth who will happily give 2 hours of their time and will talk through every perspective they can imagine.

Value of Volunteers

From October 1, 2020 to July 1, 2021, a single Wayne County 4-H Club (Wayne County 4-H Junior Leaders) made up of 49 youth in grades 6-12 gave approximately 1200 hours of service to their communities. They also donated goods and gifts worth more than $1500.00!

According to the Independent Sector, the value of volunteer time is currently $28.54 per hour. From just 49 of roughly 950 youth, the value of service is $34,248.00.

Let’s not discount the value or ability of what our youth can do. Instead, ask, empower, enable, and encourage them! Let’s lift them up and celebrate them for jobs well done.

Engage them, invite them to seats at our conference room tables or Zoom rooms, and ask them “tough” questions. Let’s trust them and allow them to work towards impact that they are passionate.

I promise you, they will rise to the challenge.

Alicia Criswell, Purdue Extension, Wayne County, Extension Educator, 4-H Youth Development,

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