AMES, Iowa -- Each year nearly 10,000 volunteers contribute their time, energy and expertise to help Iowa youth build life skills through 4-H learning experiences. And Barb Determan knows why they volunteer. It’s about giving.
“I wanted to give back to 4-H. Our family has gotten a lot of good out of it. I want to share that with other kids,” Determan said.
That’s why the Sac County woman serves as a trustee on the Iowa 4-H Foundation board, judges 4-H communication projects at the Iowa State Fair and is midway through her 29th year as an Iowa 4-H club leader.
“I really enjoy working with the kids,” she said, but that’s only part of the appeal. Far beyond the enjoyment, 4-H has given Determan a lifetime of value, the long-time volunteer said.
“I have had great opportunities,” she said.
Growing up in Illinois, Determan participated in 4-H for nine years, even attending the National 4-H Congress. As a student at the University of Illinois, she lived in the 4-H House, a sorority for former 4-H members. When she married an Iowa farmer and moved to Sac County, she called the ISU Extension office right away to get involved as a 4-H leader. Her husband, Steve Determan, became a 4-H leader as well.
Their three children — Kourtney, Dan and Andy — now adults, all participated in 4-H as youth and were state project winners.
“More important, they learned so many skills in 4-H — especially communication, leadership and community service,” Determan said. “4-H taught them how to give.”
4-H clubs expose kids to things they might not try otherwise, allowing them to develop interests they didn’t know they had and learn skills they can use for a lifetime, Determan continued. “4-H is the premier youth development organization. We work with kids from a very young age, making it comfortable for them to become leaders, communicators and [better] citizens.”
Determan’s club, the Early Achievers, is a multi-age club. She’s been a 4-H leader long enough that she’s now working with the children of some of her earlier 4-H club graduates.
“That’s a huge honor for me — to have the second generation of 4-H’ers,” Determan said.
About Volunteers and 4-H
Iowa 4-H Youth Development programs are delivered primarily through caring adults, and these volunteers make a positive difference in the lives of Iowa’s young people. However, the adults also gain from the experience, according to a study of 4-H volunteers from Iowa and other Midwestern states. They reported that through volunteering with 4-H, they had improved their organizational and management skills, their ability to speak in public and their ability to lead and teach others. To learn about volunteer opportunities with Iowa 4-H visit www.extension.iastate.edu/4h/Volunteers/.
About the Iowa 4-H Youth Development Program
4-H is the nation’s largest youth development organization, serving more than 6 million young people across America with programs in leadership, citizenship, communication and life skills. One in five Iowa school-age youth are involved in 4-H. In Iowa, 4-H Youth Development is headquartered at the Iowa State University campus in Ames. 4-H is supported by federal, state and county funding, private grants and donations, and fees. For more information about joining 4-H, contact your Iowa State University Extension county office at www.extension.iastate.edu/content/county-offices/ or visit www.extension.iastate.edu/4H.
Laura Sternweis, Extension Communications and External Relations, (515) 294-0775,