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Thank you, volunteers
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Each year, thousands of volunteers in Barton County donate their time and energy to make our community a better place to live. National Volunteer Week was celebrated in April but I would still like to recognize our Extension and 4-H volunteers.
This past year, over 100 volunteers, both young and old, have served as 4-H leaders, project leaders and fair volunteers for the 4-H members in Barton County. Volunteers spend numerous hours working on tasks, such as helping organize an event at the county fair, helping a child with a 4-H project or leading a community service project.
4-H volunteers are only one group of leaders across the state who are instrumental in carrying out the mission of the Kansas Cooperative Extension Service. They are involved in every aspect of the County Extension Service, including determining the needs of the residents, planning programs, securing resources and evaluating programs.
An example of this is the Barton County Extension Council. The twenty-four member board, which consists of elected citizens, works with the county Extension staff to plan and oversee Extension activities in the areas of Agriculture, Family and Consumer Sciences, 4-H and Youth and Community Development. The work of Extension volunteers is continuous. Every day a volunteer is lending a helping hand to make Extension programs beneficial to the residents of Barton County.
 The last week of April, Barton County Extension hosted a Grant Writing Workshop taught by Elaine Johannes, KSU professor in Youth Development and Family Studies. Barton County Extension’s Community Development PDC was the group responsible for brainstorming ideas on what could be done to assist Barton County residents. Sometimes it is easy to come up with grand ideas on what can be done to make our community better but the money is not available. Grants can sometimes help get the project moving along. A great group of volunteers from all corners of the county attended the workshop and shared some inspiring ideas.
 This weekend a group of 4-H livestock volunteers will be identifying and weighing goats, sheep and swine so our 4-H youth can show them at the county fair. It is only 65 days until the start of the Barton County Fair! Our Barton County Agriculture Extension Agent, Jenni Carr, works with the livestock program and is grateful for all the volunteer help with this youth program.
 Also this weekend, the air rifle members, parents and leaders are gathering to celebrate their accomplishments from the past season. We are fortunate to have a team of shooting sports leaders who have worked for months with our 4-H members and it all paid off at the state shoot. Out of our seven air rifle members who qualified for state, four placed in the top five in the state in one or more divisions! The archery members and leaders have also been practicing on a weekly basis and they will compete in the fall. What a fantastic bunch of kids, but even more importantly, what a fantastic bunch of leaders who were willing to give up their evenings to make a difference in the life of a child. Congratulations to all our shooting sports members and leaders.
 The 4-H dog members are meeting weekly and working on showmanship, obedience, rally and agility. We have heard it said many times that it takes a village to raise a child and this is certainly true in many of our projects. With a large number of dogs and kids, it takes more than one leader to make the practices and the dog show happen. Thank you to all parents and volunteers who have stepped up to help our youth develop these life skills.
 To all the hundreds of volunteers in Barton County, thank you for all that you do.  What would Barton County be like if just one more stepped up to volunteer?
 Berny Unruh is the 4-H and Youth Development Extension Agent in Barton County. She is a guest columnist for the Great Bend Tribune. She can be reached at 620-793-1910 or at