Recruitment and retention of special interest club adult volunteers by Illinois 4-H staff
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Special Interest (SPIN) Clubs are a relatively new component within the 4-H organization. SPIN Clubs are different from normal community clubs which focus on many project areas compared to SPIN Clubs which focus on one specific topic. The state of Illinois is dedicated to creating additional SPIN Clubs in an effort to increase statewide youth membership. While interest in 4-H SPIN Clubs has developed quickly in Illinois, the need for additional volunteers continues to grow. The objective of this research was to identify new recruitment and retention techniques for Illinois 4-H SPIN Clubs.The research was conducted using an online survey tool called Qualtrics. A survey was sent to 144 SPIN Club volunteers with the assistance of a 4-H Youth Development Extension Specialist and 4-H youth development educators. To effectively recruit new volunteers, responses indicated it was imperative that 4-H staff interact with local and corporate businesses, organizations, and citizens. Statewide and local SPIN Club recruitment informational packets should also be used to assist the 4-H staff when recruiting new volunteers. Survey results consistently showed that volunteers were under prepared prior to the beginning of their service. To help new volunteers better understand SPIN Clubs, a statewide training program should be implemented that can be tailored to meet the needs of each unit. While numerous youth development topics could be discussed at each training program, the author recommends that SPIN Club volunteer expectations and youth training methods be of highest importance.To further improve the retention of volunteers, survey results indicated the need for regular follow-up communication between the volunteers and 4-H staff. In summary, SPIN Club volunteers were found to genuinely enjoy watching youth grow and develop;greater recruitment and retention is possible with improved statewide training, informational SPIN Club packets, and more efficient communication.