Working With Youth in a World Where What You See…Is What You Give! Back »

This article was written by Suzy Geppert, former SDSU Extension 4-H Youth Partnerships Field Specialist.


As I sat down to write this article on volunteerism, I had to think back and reflect somewhat on the past.  I feel that this reflection is important when dealing with the future.  One person that I have always admired in his thoughts on volunteerism is Dr. Ivan H. Scheier, PH.D, who was seen by many as a pioneer in the volunteer movement.  If you ever get the chance to read his book “Making Dreams Come True without Money, Might, or Miracles:  A Guide for Dream-Chasers and Dream-Catchers”, do so.

Volunteerism is not a new concept; however, I sometimes feel it is a forgotten one.  It has presented itself in many forms from gathering arms for our freedom to helping a neighbor in need.  Whether we are the Dream-Chaser or the Dream-Catcher, we all play imperative roles in the future success of our youth.  Volunteerism allows us to practice the very five basic values or beliefs that Dr. Scheier discussed in his article “Time to Reconsider”, 1978. He stated that the five basic values or beliefs volunteerism represents are:

  1.  Pride in our work
  2.  Opportunity to participate
  3.  Freedom
  4.  Actualizing the Ethics of Caring
  5.  The Worth and Power of the Individual

As we look at all five concepts, we remind ourselves of what 4-H and Youth Development stand for.  Character does count in life. The rich history of our country reminds us of that on a daily basis.  It is our responsibility as citizens to give our youth the chance to develop under the guidance and instruction of caring and responsible adults.  Volunteering on all levels is crucial to the success of our youth.  Community, state, and federal volunteers are always needed.  Take time to decide what level of commitment you’re willing to make.

South Dakotans are known for their strong work ethic.  We take pride in who we are and what we have become.  We are knowledgeable experts in our fields.  Sharing that knowledge and expertise allows us the opportunity to build strength and integrity within our youth and their futures.  We have the freedom to educate and inspire our youth utilizing our Midwestern ethics of caring so that they may realize the worth and power they have as an individual. Becoming a role model in the life of a child is one of the greatest joys and challenges you can take on. 

Take a chance….and become a volunteer. I encourage you to seek out further information on the volunteer programs by contacting your local 4-H Advisors, Region Field Specialists or State Specialists and lending that helping hand.  I look forward to working with you as a partner in the new SDSU Extension!

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