The 4-H Volunteer and UW-Madison Connection: Supporting 4-H Volunteers, Keeping Youth Safe, and Ensuring Youth Thrive

In 2022, there were 244 adult volunteers for Washington County serving at 4-H Clubs, projects and events. Those volunteers, along with all 4-H volunteers across Wisconsin, operate within the guidelines, policies, and procedures of the University of Wisconsin Madison/Division of Extension and the United States Department of Agriculture. Volunteers are leaders, teachers, mentors and role models for Washington County youth enrolled in 4-H. Wisconsin 4-H volunteers follow the research-based, learn-by-doing 4-H Thriving Model to equip youth with skills such as problem solving, decision making and communicating — critical for their success in school, college, careers, and communities.

Training is one way that UW Extension invests in 4-H volunteers in learning the 4-H Thriving Model. In the same way that 4-H youth strive to “make the best better,” volunteers can continue to learn and grow throughout their 4-H experience. Keeping youth safe and instilling confidence in our 4H families that our volunteers are properly vetted and trained is the number one priority for UW Extension and 4-H. Volunteers complete a background check before being accepted and once accepted, there are baseline training requirements that teach volunteers how to respond to crisis as well as mandated reporting laws which any professional working with youth would need to take as a job requirement. The 4-H Educator is well versed in training modules and reviews the progress of volunteers completing training prior to working with youth. Training volunteers ultimately makes them more prepared to interact with youth which leads to an enjoyable and productive experience for both the volunteer and the youth they serve.

For more information about volunteerism within the UW-Madison/Division of Extension contact Ron Jakubisin, 4-H Educator, at

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