LITTLE ROCK — 4-H volunteers provide students in rural America with the knowledge and tools necessary to succeed in life. These individuals dedicate their lives to the betterment of ag youth and focus on providing lifelong skills. This October, when 4-H volunteers from across the Southern Region gathered in Little Rock to train and share ideas at the Southern Regional 4-H Volunteer Forum, they also received a little motivation from a 4-H success story, Pine Bluff native, DeWayne Goldman.
The Southern Regional 4-H Volunteer Forum, sponsored by Monsanto through National 4-H Council, brought 4-H volunteers together to network and learn about innovative programs that will help bring fresh perspectives and activities to 4-H programs across the state of Arkansas. Last year, more than 13,000 volunteers were trained nationally through the Monsanto 4-H Volunteer Initiative. These trainings included new volunteer orientations, cutting edge technology and face-to-face meetings.
Goldman, now the director of shareholder relations for agriculture company Monsanto, grew up with the culture of 4-H. His mother served as a club leader and mentor not only to her children and club members, but to her fellow volunteers. Later Goldman served on the Arkansas 4-H Foundation board. He credits his 4-H experience for helping set the stage for later successes.
“I think providing that kind of inspiration to youth pays dividends,” Goldman said. “The most basic things that helped me through my career, like how to manage a project and see it through, I learned in 4-H. As a volunteer you never know where a kid will go with what they learn, but you know you’re doing something positive.”
The structured learning, encouragement and adult mentoring that young people receive through their participation in 4-H plays a vital role in helping them achieve future life successes, according to the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development conducted by the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University. This in-depth study discovered that, when compared to youth who do not participate in 4-H, young people involved in 4-H report better grades, higher levels of academic competence, an elevated level of engagement at school and are nearly three times more likely to make positive contributions in their communities. The statistics of mentored youth are consistently positive, and it is easy to see why 4-H volunteers continue to dedicate their time to these young leaders.