Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Agricultural & Extension Education (MS)

Degree Level



Agricultural Education, Communications and Technology


Donna L. Graham

Committee Member

K. Jill Rucker

Second Committee Member

Casandra Cox


4-H, Cooperative Extension, Motivation, Recognition, Volunteer, Youth Development


The 4-H program relies on volunteers to deliver quality youth programing to the local community. Therefore, volunteer management is an important job of a 4-H educator. The Ontario County 4-H program utilizes 94 volunteers who serve a variety of roles within the program, and the retention of these volunteers is important to the program’s continued success. Older volunteer studies have found that volunteer recognition is an important aspect of volunteer satisfaction and retention. Therefore, this study aimed to describe the characteristics of current Ontario county 4-H volunteers, understand the underlying motivations and recognition preferences of these volunteers, determine if correlations exist between volunteer characteristics and certain motivation and recognition preferences. The instrument consisted of the Volunteer Functions Inventory (VFI), a Likert-style recognition preference matrix, and volunteer role and demographic questions. The study received a 67% response rate with the majority of the respondents being female with a child currently in the program. The study found that Values, which is genuine concern for human need, was the highest scoring motivation category followed by Understanding, which is the desire to gain new skills and knowledge. The most preferred recognition methods were seeing youth succeed, verbal thanks, and thank you notes. Only negligible to moderate correlations were found between volunteer characteristics and motivation and recognition preferences. Based on these findings, it is recommended that Ontario County 4-H implement an intrinsic and personal-based recognition strategy and provide more established volunteer training opportunities.