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Diversity & Inclusion Corps – Volunteer Recruitment: Reaching culturally diverse volunteers to grow the 4-H youth development program in Southern MN

Michael Compton
Extension Educator, Youth Development
University of Minnesota


Tammy Lorch
Assistant Extension Professor
MNEXT Youth Development
University of Minnesota


Sam Jens
County 4-H Program Coordinator
University of Minnesota


Other team members

Nancy Hegland
University of Minnesota


What is the issue your proposal will address?

Volunteers are a valuable resource to 4-H youth development programming, as they allow program staff to multiply their efforts in reaching a broader audience. In our programming, we have must have at least two adults present with all programs, to be compliant with safety of minor practices. In the southwest and southeast Extension regions in Minnesota, we have a great need to expand and diversify our volunteer corp. Currently, we do have screened volunteers in the region who provide leadership to programming, however less than 2% in both regions are volunteers of color. This compares to 11.3% of youth of color involved in our program. This makes it difficult to recruit new youth, as well as be immersed in some of the most diverse communities in the region. Staff have also identified a high need for training on recruiting new volunteers. In Worthington, MN, over 28% of the population were not born in the United States, making it the most diverse city in the state. The need to identify, recruit, orientate, train, support and evaluate volunteers to expand programming in diverse communities is critical, if we expect to be successful in reaching new youth audiences.

What is your proposed solution?

The theme of the proposed solution will be collaboration with partners who are currently working with both youth and adult audiences in four diverse communities within the state. We will conduct a needs assessment with community partners in Worthington, Marshall, Willmar, and the great Rochester area, including Dodge County. This will allow us to explore the volunteer trends in the area, as well as determine the culture of volunteerism with culturally diverse audiences. Currently, we are working with some new partners, however know the need to greater than our current reach. After the needs assessment, we would work intentionally with partners to develop a volunteer/mentor program, which would connect experienced volunteers with new volunteers in the program. By developing a mentorship program, two individuals would partner to expand programming to first generation 4-H members. Our first efforts would be to expand 4-H programming with special interest clubs, allowing both youth and volunteers to focus their efforts on a specific topic area, which they would select, based on their passions. Volunteers will receive high quality training to ensure they feel skilled in their role as a 4-H volunteer.

What is the innovative component or strategy you will implement as a result of the design-a-thon?


 How did the design-a-thon help you?

Project Blog Posts

Contact information:

  • mcompton@umn.edu

  • lorch003@umn.edu

  • jens0593@umn.edu

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