Volunteers critical to 4-H program in Orleans County

Posted 20 April 2022 at 3:21 pm


The Orleans County 4-H program would not be able to fully function without our dedicated and talented volunteers. Orleans Cornell Cooperative Extension is celebrating its volunteers during National Volunteer Week, April 17-23.

4-H volunteers are involved in a wide variety of tasks. Some come one day a year to help evaluate youth at events such as Public Presentations or Produced in New York. Others are club leaders who are involved in programming year-round. Others are highly involved in helping with the 4-H Fair each July. The time commitment varies, but volunteers share their talents and interests with the next generation.

A few of our volunteers recently shared reasons why they give their time so generously to positive youth development in our community.

Zack Welker of Medina began as a 4-H volunteer in 2015 as leader of the Beef and Dairy Club.  He has also served on the Animal Welfare and Fair committees and is the current president of the OCCCE Board of Directors. Zack grew up in 4-H, which opened many doors for him, and as a 4-H Leader he can help shape and give back to the next generation.

Floyd Young of Kent co-leads the Outback Orleans Outdoors Club with Dale Frasier. Both are parents of 4-Hers and stepped forward to lead the club just before the Covid shutdown in 2020.  They waited more than a year to take the necessary NYS 4-H Shooting Sports training so that the club could be fully active again. Floyd says club members choose the activities and skills they want to focus on with safety as the priority. He says it’s important that youth be active outdoors, and 4-H is also an opportunity for parents to learn and interact with their children.

The Orleans 4-H Program is grateful for newer volunteers like Zack and Floyd. There are also volunteers who have served for decades – Pauline Lanning of Albion is one of the longest at 55 years. Pauline was a club leader, Senior Council advisor/leader and continues to help as a member of the Family and Consumer Science Program Development Committee (FCSPDC).

Many long-time volunteers were 4-Hers growing up. Robyn Watts of Medina was a 4-Her, her children were 4-Hers, and now her grandchildren are 4-Hers. Robyn says she appreciates the support and information provided through Cooperative Extension. She says parents often stay to help during club meetings. Robyn currently leads the Abundant Harvest 4-H Club and is chair of the FCSPDC.

Joyce Chizick of Lyndonville has served as a volunteer, club leader and program development committee member for more than four decades. She says 4-H has always been on the cutting edge of issues like going green and organic gardening.  She appreciates being able to provide opportunities for youth and has fond memories of the many 4-H award trips that offered local youth the chance to visit new places and meet new people.

Louise Henderson of Barre and her daughter Alice Mathes, also of Barre, are decades-long volunteers who are club leaders and members of the FCSPDC. They like that 4-H emphasizes learning by doing and that youth receive lots of experience in hands-on, actual reality.  Alice remembers 4-H youth were able to change the tire of an Extension van years ago when they were traveling to a state-level 4-H Dairy event in the days when there were no cell phones.  Louise now has great-grandchildren in the 4-H Program who she says are also gaining valuable life skills while participating in 4-H.

A huge thank-you to all our volunteers in the Orleans County 4-H Program. You are making a huge difference in the lives of our youth and we appreciate you!

Kristina Gabalski

4-H Program Coordinator, Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension