New Grant Expands 4-H Volunteer Efforts in Iowa

National 4-H Council to Expand Volunteer Initiative with $500,000 from Monsanto Company

4-H cloverAMES, Iowa -- National 4-H Council has received a $500,000 gift from the Monsanto Company to drive the continued expansion of the National 4-H Volunteer Initiative. The new grant will fund several initiatives including continued outreach to attract and retain 4-H volunteers in 39 states, including Iowa.

The National 4-H Volunteer Initiative provides 4-H’s network of more than 540,000 existing volunteers with an extensive hands-on training experience - enhancing their abilities to effectively mentor youth with positive youth development opportunities to learn leadership, citizenship and other important life skills. Core training delivery modes consist of forum events that allow 4-H volunteers to learn program information and share best practices.

Through this program, Iowa is one of 39 states that have been granted funds to host a volunteer training forum in 2013. In addition, a new pilot program will be tested in Iowa with possible national replication in the future.

“Volunteers are essential to the success of the 4-H positive youth development program,” said LuAnn Johansen, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach 4-H Youth Development assistant director. “This new Monsanto funded pilot project provides an opportunity to recruit new volunteers to expand the Iowa 4-H program. The more trained, quality volunteers 4-H has, the more youth we can reach. Through this pilot project, Iowa 4-H hopes to identify, recruit and train 65 new corporate and workplace volunteers to deliver high quality educational experiences to nearly 900 youth in Clay, Muscatine and Louisa counties.”

Monsanto is a national champion of local 4-H volunteer recruitment programming and is the only national corporate partner investing in 4-H volunteerism. Since 2007, nearly 65,000 volunteers and thousands of local 4-H families have been reached through volunteer training forums and online recruitment and retention tools. In 2012, with Monsanto’s support, the National 4-H Council Volunteer Engagement and Activation Resource toolkit was created. The VEAR toolkit provides 4-H educators and extension specialists with resources to recruit and effectively train leaders to be positive mentors to 4-H youth.     

“Dedicated, caring volunteers are the backbone of 4-H and Monsanto is proud to support the National 4-H Council with the Volunteer Engagement and Activation Resources initiative,” said Michael Naig, Iowa regional manager of government affairs at Monsanto. “This program will enable Iowa State University to pilot a program that helps 4-H to identify, recruit and train the volunteers who have such a positive impact in the lives of young people across Iowa.”

Monsanto also has sponsored the online volunteer management training Everyone Ready® for the past three years and has supported the 4-H Volunteer Management Awards, which are presented at the annual National Association of Extension 4-H Agents Conference.

In addition, the Monsanto Fund’s America's Farmers Grow Communities program has provided more than $1.5 million to local 4-H clubs across the United States since the program began in 2009. This program provides farmers the opportunity to win $2,500 and designate that to their favorite community nonprofit organization, such as 4-H, local schools, fire departments and other civic groups. One winning farmer is selected in each of 1,271 eligible counties in 39 states. In 2012, counties that were designated as drought disaster areas by the USDA were eligible to receive two $2,500 grants.