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Lancaster Co. 4-H focusing on youth development; built on the backs of volunteers

National Volunteer Week comes to a close, highlighted by some of the great volunteers in...
National Volunteer Week comes to a close, highlighted by some of the great volunteers in Lancaster County(Station)
Published: Apr. 23, 2021 at 10:49 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - During the 2018-2019 4-H year Lancaster County connected with more than 23,000 kids. Whether it be through community centers, after school programs or summer programs, 4-H has been committed to their mission for decades.

According to the United States Census Bureau, children are 11% more likely to have higher levels of school engagement when involved in one or more out-of-school activities, like 4-H.

In Nebraska, 4-H staffers believe the best way to keep kids engaged is learning by doing, which has been difficult during the pandemic.

Despite these challenges, the 4-H team said their volunteers have been the life-blood that keeps their programs going.

“They’ve just worked so hard keeping their clubs together or helping teach other workshops with teaching virtually, we’ve had a few in person workshops since that time. I know they’ve sent us some photos from their Zoom meetings, but we’ve really worked hard to stay connected to them,” said Lancaster County 4-H Educator, Tracy Anderson.

4-H tells 10/11 NOW that Lancaster County has nearly 3,000 volunteers who give more than 30,000 hours of their time each year.

Karol Swotek has been a 4-H volunteer for more than 15-years in Lancaster County. She said that volunteering is first nature and developing kids into members of the community is important.

Swotek says children are meant to explore and 4-H gives them those opportunities to find success in their lives.

She says that Nebraskans are only as good as the collective and finding something that is bigger than ourselves is important as we grow up.

Beyond 4-H she believes volunteering is very significant in Lancaster County, “But more importantly everything you give away comes back to you to fill your life and be that opportunity to make someone else successful makes you feel valued. You’re spreading those opportunities for other people. It isn’t just what you’re giving back, but what you’re getting back as well.”

Swotek said she’s a 4-H youth product and seeing what it did for her made her want to give back those opportunities.

If you are looking for more information on Lancaster County 4-H, or interested in becoming a volunteer, you can find that information here.

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