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Volunteering with 4-H: It’s About Giving

Each year nearly 10,000 volunteers contribute their time, energy and expertise to help Iowa youth build life skills through 4-H learning experiences. And Barb Determan knows why they volunteer. It’s about giving.

“I wanted to give back to 4-H. Our family has gotten a lot of good out of it. I want to share that with other kids,” Determan said.

That’s why the Sac County woman serves as a trustee on the Iowa 4-H Foundation board, judges 4-H communication projects at the Iowa State Fair and is midway through her 29th year as an Iowa 4-H club leader.

“I really enjoy working with the kids,” she said, but that’s only part of the appeal. Far beyond the enjoyment, 4-H has given Determan a lifetime of value, the long-time volunteer said.

“I have had great opportunities,” she said.

Growing up in Illinois, Determan participated in 4-H for nine years, even attending the National 4-H Congress. As a student at the University of Illinois, she lived in the 4-H House, a sorority for former 4-H members. When she married an Iowa farmer and moved to Sac County, she called the ISU Extension office right away to get involved as a 4-H leader. Her husband, Steve Determan, became a 4-H leader as well.

Their three children — Kourtney, Dan and Andy — now adults, all participated in 4-H as youth and were state project winners.

“More important, they learned so many skills in 4-H — especially communication, leadership and community service,” Determan said. “4-H taught them how to give.”

4-H clubs expose kids to things they might not try otherwise, allowing them to develop interests they didn’t know they had and learn skills they can use for a lifetime, Determan continued. “4-H is the premier youth development organization. We work with kids from a very young age, making it comfortable for them to become leaders, communicators and [better] citizens.”

Determan’s club, the Early Achievers, is a multi-age club. She’s been a 4-H leader long enough that she’s now working with the children of some of her earlier 4-H club graduates.

“That’s a huge honor for me — to have the second generation of 4-H’ers,” Determan said.

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