UK Happenings

Reach new horizons at the 2024 Kentucky Volunteer and Extension Forum

4-H Volunteer Forum participants
For more than two decades, this biennial forum has provided a developmental and education conference for 4-H and extension volunteers in Kentucky and beyond — becoming one of the largest volunteer events in the world. | Courtesy of Martin-Gatton CAFE

 LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 10, 2024) —The Kentucky 4-H Youth Development, part of the Cooperative Extension Service at the University of Kentucky Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, is hosting the 2024 Kentucky Volunteer Forum Feb. 22-24.

Themed “Volunteers Reaching New Horizons: Educating. Inspiring. Serving,” the conference invites all 4-H and extension volunteers, professionals and community members to Lexington’s Central Bank Convention Center and Hyatt Regency.

The conference will offer over 200 workshops across 25 content tracks, including professional development sessions, seminars on wheels, matching volunteer forum grant opportunities, networking opportunities, a trade show with 60 vendors and three recognition events.

The gathering has become one of the largest forums for 4-H and extension volunteers worldwide — attracting participants from all 120 counties in Kentucky and across several states.

“We are excited to offer this unique opportunity to help educate, inspire and recognize the amazing service work of our Kentucky 4-H and extension volunteers,” said Ken Culp, principal specialist for volunteerism, evaluation and curriculum for 4-H Youth Development. “We’ve found that the quality of the different workshops, informal networking and sharing opportunities are some of the biggest factors in motivating people to attend.”

4-H volunteers can also complete the necessary accreditation requirements in several areas, including agriculture, camping, clover buds, communications and expressive arts, family and consumer sciences, health and wellbeing, leadership, natural resources and science, engineering and technology.

Agents can also obtain master volunteer accreditation opportunities in four core workshop areas — Intro to 4-H, 4-H club and risk management involving parents and volunteers, ages and stages of youth development, and teaching methods and learning styles. 

Additionally, 70 award recipients, comprised of volunteers and community partners, will be recognized and inducted at the Hall of Fame banquet ceremony for their contributions to the Kentucky 4-H Program and their impact on youth. One recipient is Kentucky volunteer and native Linda Branstetter, who was recently inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame.

Kentucky 4-H ranks second nationally for those inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame. Nearly 150 youth who have completed 10 years of 4-H membership will also be recognized.

Jill Bramble, who became president and CEO at the National 4-H Council in August is this year’s keynote speaker.

Palladium, platinum and gold sponsors are The R.C. Durr Foundation; Department of 4-H Youth Development and Kentucky 4-H Foundation; George A. Duncan, Martin-Gatton CAFE and UK Cooperative Extension. A full list of sponsors can be found here.

“This year’s theme appropriately acknowledges what 4-H volunteers and extension professionals are doing every day,” Culp said. “They educate, inspire and serve. This event will hopefully help everyone reach new horizons in their communities.”

For more event information and to register, visit https://4-h.ca.uky.edu/core-program-areas/kentucky-volunteer-forum or contact your local county extension office at https://extension.ca.uky.edu/county. Registration deadline is Friday, Jan. 19.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.