Throughout National Volunteer Month, the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service is celebrating the impact of its volunteers across the state.

Montza Williams, Ed.D., AgriLife Extension 4-H program director, said support, time and efforts from the program’s volunteers are critical in assisting Texas 4-H programs.

Texas 4-H is a program created for youth from grades 3-12 to work and learn in their areas of interest. Texas 4-H offers numerous programs in areas covering agriculture and livestock, family and community health, leadership and citizenship, natural resources, STEM and much more.

Three young girls watching a volunteer teach them how to sew with a sewing machine.
Texas 4-H volunteer teaching a group of young members how to sew. (Courtesy photo)

Williams started his career with AgriLife Extension in 1989 as an AgriLife Extension assistant county agent. He later moved into an agent position, then into a specialist position and then into the role of Texas 4-H program director in 2020.

“When this position opened, I jumped at the opportunity,” Williams said. “Growing up, I had amazing county agents and other volunteers who greatly influenced who I am today, and I wanted to use this opportunity to give back to the new generation of Texas 4-H members and volunteers.”

Williams recently shared his impressions of Texas 4-H volunteers and the vital role they play in the lives of Texas 4-H members.

Why do Texas 4-H volunteers matter?

We could not do the program without our volunteers. Last year, we reported 50,090 club members in our club programs throughout Texas. We had 407,075 Texas youth participate in our program through school programs, after-school programs and more. AgriLife Extension agents cannot be everywhere they’re needed at once, so our volunteers allow us to assist those agents and reach thousands of youths by helping lead projects, meetings, contests and more.

How many volunteers does the Texas 4-H program have?

Since our volunteers work with the youth of Texas, each person must complete a screening process to be vetted into our system. Last year, we had 20,500 volunteers registered through that process from all over the state. There are countless other volunteers who work behind the scenes to help the program function day to day.

What does 4-H look for in a potential volunteer?

Most volunteers join the Texas 4-H volunteer force because they have skills and knowledge that can help a young person grow, or they have a passion for their area of interest and want to influence the youth of Texas positively by sharing that passion. Because of the variety of programs we offer through the Texas 4-H program, we need a lot of volunteers and they come to us wanting to make a difference by sharing their knowledge and skills. However, not all volunteers arrive with skills related to a member’s area of interest, but they all have the desire to learn.

How does someone sign up to volunteer with Texas 4-H?

Every county has at least one AgriLife Extension agent who oversees the local 4-H program. The best way to volunteer is to contact the agent to learn where volunteers are needed. If you want to volunteer with a specific project, they can point you in the right direction.

What do you want the volunteers to get out of volunteering?

We hope our volunteers realize they are making a positive difference in each life they touch. We hope they feel rewarded for helping the youth succeed, grow and learn. Hopefully, those kids will become contributing members of society which will have positive implications for generations to come.

What advice would you give someone who wants to volunteer with Texas 4-H?

If you want to volunteer with Texas 4-H and make a difference in these kids’ lives, just jump in and do it. The program won’t make a difference unless you get involved.

Visit the Texas 4-H Program to learn more about how to become a volunteer and make a difference in your community. 

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