Recognition for service to 4-H is an important component of the Ohio 4-H volunteer program. In Ohio, for the year 2015, there were 16,317 adult volunteers supporting 289,298 youth in 4-H programs throughout the state (Nider, 2015). The foundation of Ohio 4-H success lies with volunteers, and most do not do the work for recognition. Volunteering to help both the community and people are considered to be the primary factors why 4-H leaders join and continue to volunteer (Boone et al., 2013).
Although the debate regarding whether formal or informal recognition is most effective is ongoing, the most effective form of recognition is that which fulfills the volunteers’ motivation to serve (McCall & Culp, 2013). Many 4-H Volunteers gain a sense of appreciation when they know their volunteer efforts are valued by 4-H members, parents, other volunteers, as well as by Extension professionals at the county and state levels. It still remains important for our organization to express our gratitude to volunteers for investing their time, expertise, and efforts. Thus, volunteer program administrators are wise to increase their efforts to honor volunteers with all types of recognition.
The Ohio 4-H program has several categories of state awards for which volunteers, 4-H clubs, county committees, or Extension professionals may nominate worthy individuals or clubs. Nominee applications are reviewed by a selection committee, and those selected for the awards are recognized at the Bob Evans Farms Ohio 4-H Volunteer Recognition Luncheon.
Award applications are available in early fall and can be found at ohio4h.org/about/ohio-4-h-conference.
Award applications or nominations are generally due December 1. For additional information contact your Extension 4-H educator. The award categories and their descriptions for Ohio 4-H volunteers are listed below.
Meritorious Service Award
This award recognizes adult 4-H volunteers for a lifetime of meritorious service.
Nomination and Selection Criteria: Eligibility consists of all current adult 4-H volunteers who, at the time application for the award is made, have at least 15 years of adult volunteer service to 4-H; have a wide range of service and contributions to 4-H on the club, county, district, state, or national level; serve as a positive influence in the lives of 4-H members in Ohio; and have not received the award previously. Up to four recipients will be selected on a statewide basis.
Ohio 4-H Alumni Award - Early Career Achievement
This award is presented to 4-H alum who has demonstrated distinctive achievement in their career before turning 36 years old and can attribute part of their success to participating in 4-H.
Nomination and Selection Criteria: Eligibility consists of any individual who was a 4-H member for at least three years; has not reached their 36th birthday as of January 1 of the year in which the award is to be given; and must be living at the time of selection. Up to two recipients will be selected on a statewide basis.
This award recognizes adult and/or youth volunteers who have developed new programs, county projects, or activities.
Nomination and Selection Criteria: Eligibility consists of individuals or a group of adult and/or youth 4-H volunteers who are current volunteers at the time application is made; have not received this award in the last 5 years; have developed and implemented new, innovative and creative programs or activities; and through themselves and their innovation have positively impacted the lives of 4-H members and the 4-H Youth Development Program. Up to three individuals or groups will be selected on a statewide basis.
Community Service Award
This award recognizes adults and youth 4-H volunteers who have collaborated or cooperated with other community or 4-H groups, or undertaken them with their own 4-H club or unit, community service projects or activities.
Nomination and Selection Criteria: Eligibility consists of all adult 4-H volunteers (and their 4-H club members) who are current volunteers at the time the application is made; have not received this award in the last 5 years; and have successfully undertaken a service activity which benefited and positively impacted an individual, group, or community. Up to three recipients will be selected on a statewide basis.
Friend of Ohio 4-H Award
This award recognizes an individual, family, business, or corporation that supports the Ohio 4-H Program in a charitable manner at the county, state, or national level.
Nomination and Selection Criteria: Eligibility consists of any individual, family, business or corporation that is a current supporter at the time the application is made; has not previously received the award (the award may be received by an individual, family, business or corporation only once); and has given observable or measurable support and contributions to the 4-H Program. Up to four recipients will be selected on a statewide basis.
Ohio 4-H Hall of Fame Award
The Ohio 4-H Hall of Fame was initiated in 1977 during the 75th anniversary of 4-H with the enshrinement of Mr. A. B. Graham, founder of 4-H in Ohio, and the living charter members of the first 4-H club. The purpose of the 4-H Hall of Fame is to recognize individuals who have made significant lifetime contributions of service to the 4-H program and who have also made an important positive impact upon clubs, communities, and the state 4-H program. No more than four individuals are selected by the Ohio 4-H Hall of Fame award committee to be inducted into the Hall of Fame each year; with no more than one of these awards to be posthumous.
Recognition for Years of Service (Adult)
As with most volunteer organizations, 4-H believes in highlighting milestones of service. These milestones include completing 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, and 40 years of service as a 4-H volunteer. Lifetime commitments of over 40 years of service are also recognized annually.
In addition to the previous six volunteer awards that have been outlined; most counties recognize these tenure milestones at an annual county achievement or volunteer awards banquet.
A Simple “Thank You” is Important
Saying thanks is another way to provide recognition that is highly encouraged by 4-H. It is sometimes the easiest way to share appreciation, but oftentimes the most overlooked. Sending birthday cards, notes of congratulations, and thank-you notes to 4-H volunteers and 4-H members is an outstanding way to casually recognize their efforts and gifts. Teaching 4-H members to write and send cards and notes also recognizes volunteers in a meaningful way.
Boone, D. A, R. Payne, H. N. Boone, Jr., & J. M. Woloshuk (2013). Factors Influencing 4-H Leader Volunteer Recruitment and Retention. Journal of NCAA (Volume 6, Issue 2). Retrieved from nacaa.com/journal/index.php?jid=278
Nider, T. (2015). 4-H Youth Development 2015 Statistical Report. Columbus, OH: The Ohio State University. Retrieved from ohio4h.org/sites/ohio4h/files/imce/about_us/2015%20Statistical%20Report%20-%20Final.pdf
McCall, F., Culp II, K., (2013). Utilizing a State Level Volunteer Recognition Program at the County Level. Journal of Extension (December 2013 // Volume 51 // Number 6 // Ideas at Work // 6IAW5). Retrieved from joe.org/joe/2013december/iw5.php
Original Authors: K. Culp, V. J. Schwartz, & I. J. Campbell, The Ohio State University. (Recognizing 4-H volunteers, originally published in 1999).