Whether your interests include working with kids, your community, or plants and flowers, Extension can help you get involved and make a difference. Volunteers are absolutely essential to Extension’s work. Volunteers have the energy and passion to keep us going, and also have many experiences, skills, and talents, as well as connections to the local community. There are many ways in which you can engage with Extension as a volunteer.
One of the things that distinguishes 4-H from other youth programs and makes our organization strong is the role of volunteers. All 4-H clubs must have an adult leader. Historically, 4-H has relied upon volunteers to fill this role. Volunteers have been an integral part of the success of 4-H since the 1920s. A 4-H volunteer is anyone who is not paid through the Cooperative Extension system. 4-H volunteers are adults and older youth who serve as club leaders, project leaders, camp counselors, etc. Some volunteer leaders work directly with youth and others serve as trainers and mentors.
Adult volunteers play an important role in the 4-H program. Volunteers coordinate local community clubs and help to plan and conduct local, regional, state, and national 4-H events. Over 600,000 teen and adult volunteers share their time and talents with 4-H youth. They volunteer on a continuum, from club leaders who may devote many hours per week to 4-H, to event organizers who may volunteer for one specific event per year.
Georgia Master Gardeners and Georgia Urban Gardeners. Last year, 2,644 Georgia Master Gardeners donated 192,854 hours of their time to help UGA Extension agents deliver horticulture and water conservation landscape education in their counties. Using the federal government estimate for volunteer hours, that's a $3.4 million return on investment in volunteer training annually. Learn more at the Georgia Master Gardener website.
The Georgia Master Naturalist program is an adult environmental education course developed by UGA Extension and the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources for people who wish to be more informed about habitats, ecosystems, and the natural environments of our state. This program is a combination of lectures and outside hands-on learning through field studies and relevant resource materials. Topics include ecology, entomology, herpetology, human impact, water issues and many others. Contact your local Extension office to see if a course is being offered in your area.
Advisory Groups / Extension Leadership System
Most counties have a local Extension advisory committee that helps them stay abreast of needs in the community and match Extension programs and education to address those needs. If you are interested in serving as a volunteer on an advisory committee, contact your local Extension office.