Forty Year 4-H Volunteer Recognized During National Volunteer Week, April 15-21

Forty Year 4-H Volunteer Recognized During National Volunteer Week, April 15-21

Forty Year 4-H Volunteer Recognized During National Volunteer Week, April 15-21

This Chinese Parable provides an understanding for why individuals volunteer – and in the 4-H Youth Development Program of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia and Greene Counties why we enjoy the support of nearly 300 volunteers.

One day an elephant saw a hummingbird lying on its back with its tiny feet up in the air. "What are you doing?" asked the elephant. The hummingbird replied, "I heard that the sky might fall today, and so I am ready to help hold it up, should it fall." The elephant laughed cruelly. "Do you really think," he said, "that those tiny feet could help hold up the sky?" The hummingbird kept his feet up in the air, intent on his purpose, as he replied, "Not alone. But each must do what he can. And this is what I can do."

Those who volunteer in the 4-H program all have one thing in common – they like and care about kids. After that they are as varied as can be. They are young….and older. They are male and female. They live in all corners of our twin counties, and beyond. They have had previous experience with 4-H or not. They give two hours of their time to 4-H….and they give days, weeks and years to 4-H. With this being National Volunteer Week, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia and Greene Counties would like to recognize a volunteer who has done something many have not – volunteered with us for over forty years! Roy Denniston lives in Nassau on a small farm with his dog and a few small dairy animals.

Roy has an amazing agriculture educator background – starting with growing up in Ulster County where he was a 4-H member. He recalls that his first set of dairy judging reasons he gave was at a 4-H event in Dutchess County. He even worked for Cooperative Extension one year as a summer assistant in Ulster County. After graduating from college Roy spent about the first ten years of his working life as an ag teacher and FFA advisor. After that, as he worked with the NY State Education Department he also interfaced with our NYS FFA officers.

In the late 1970’s his daughter joined 4-H and the dairy project as a member of the Buccaneers 4-H Club. Herman Huntley was the club leader at the time, and Roy’s wife, Debby, followed as club leader after that. For 40 years Roy has been a 4-H dairy project leader which has led him to spending many years as a 4-H dairy bowl coach. Roy could not tell me how many NYS Dairy Bowl team members he has coached but it has been quite a few – I am thinking five to eight. And many of them have placed in the top ten in the nation!

Of course, being the humble person he is, when asked about this accomplishment Roy was quick to point out that coaching is a team effort – that it was not all him. And, his final words – 4-H has kept him young! Roy has been recognized with the 4-H diamond certificate of recognition and received a 4-H clover pin containing a diamond in the center.

This is just one example of volunteer commitment to ensuring that children today have opportunities to learn and grow through 4-H. 4-H club leaders are often 4-H alumni but over half of the individuals who are taking leadership for 4-H clubs in Columbia and Greene counties are not.

4-H is an experiential learning youth education program for boys and girls ages 8-19. Its’ practical life skills education in science and technology, healthy lifestyles and citizenship can reach any kid ... anywhere ... any time through 4-H clubs, camps, after-school programs and events. 4-H volunteers and professionals have a great deal of latitude in determining when, where and how 4-H “learn-by-doing” activities take place.

People volunteer for 4-H for many reasons. One obvious benefit is to help guide and counsel our country’s future citizens and leaders. They also grow as a person, develop new leadership skills, meet new friends and have great adventures!

We are always looking for individuals interested in working with youth….contact us if you are!


Linda Tripp
Issue Leader, 4-H Youth Development
(518) 828-3346 ext. 210

Last updated April 5, 2018