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Volunteer leaders make Mississippi 4-H better
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi volunteer leaders are essential in fulfilling the national 4-H motto: “To make the best better.”
Harvey Gordon, 4-H volunteer development specialist with Mississippi State University’s Extension Service, said National Volunteer Week, which recognizes all volunteers, marked a perfect time to recognize the leaders who contribute their time and energy to today’s youth. Established in 1974, this year’s volunteer week was observed April 15-21.
“4-H could not impact the lives and produce the outstanding youth we see in clubs today without the selfless contributions of our volunteer leaders,” Gordon said. “National Volunteer Week recognizes and encourages the people who invest in their communities in general, and local youth in particular.”
Gordon oversees the Mississippi Volunteer Leaders’ Association, a 500-member organization that supports youth development through the 4-H program. He said two MVLA members have been recognized recently for their contributions.
“Hattie Harris of Natchez, a volunteer leader for 30 years, was named the state’s outstanding lifetime volunteer for 2012,” he said. “Mrs. Harris has stood out among the volunteers since I came to Mississippi in 1997.”
Gordon said Harris has been an enthusiastic volunteer who is very committed to youth development efforts.
“Mrs. Harris gives of herself, her time, her resources and her wealth of wisdom,” he said. “She is motivated by the opportunity to give back to youth in the community.”
Gordon said Harris involves young people in gardening projects and other activities that help their community.
“Her strong dedication to community service inspires those around her,” he said. “Mrs. Harris’ service is not limited to 4-H, so she sets a good example for the youth, who are able to see an adult volunteer in action.”
Angela Burress Stewart of Starkville received the salute to excellence volunteer of the year award from Mississippi 4-H. This award is given to an outstanding volunteer with less than 10 years of service.
Oktibbeha 4-H youth agent LaTrell Stokes said Stewart is the ideal volunteer.
“Angela will tackle any challenge. She’s always ready to go the extra mile to benefit the kids,” Stokes said. “She has one of the strongest clubs in the county and had to recruit additional leaders to divide her club into seniors and juniors. Her club is active in health projects, Volunteer Starkville (service projects) and helping at nursing homes. It is expanding into robotics.”
Stokes described Stewart as a rarity because most leaders have children involved in the 4-H program, but Stewart and her husband do not have children of their own.
“She treats each of the 4-H members in her club as if they were hers. She is very grateful to the 4-H organization because she recognizes what the program can do for children,” Stokes said.
To find out how to be a 4-H volunteer leader, contact the local county Extension office or visit their web site.