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Idaho ranks third in volunteerism

Idaho County 4-H program encourages community service

More than one in three Idahoans volunteered their time to improve their communities and help those who need assistance, making the state third in the nation in volunteerism.

The latest research by the Corporation for National and Community Service and the National Conference on Citizenship found that 36.5 percent of Idahoans – more than 425,000 – volunteered more than 58 million hours of service in 2012. Only Utah and Minnesota had higher rates of volunteerism. The rate is based on a three-year moving average.

While Idaho’s volunteer rate was unchanged from 2011, the state moved ahead of Iowa and South Dakota in the national rankings. Idaho’s rate was up nearly two and a half percentage points from 2010, when the state ranked 10th nationally.

In addition to the tens of thousands of volunteers throughout the state, there were more than 350 AmeriCorps members and 3,800 Senior Corps volunteers coordinated by Serve Idaho.

In Idaho County, the 4-H program encourages volunteering early on and throughout the 4-H years.

“Community service is a very large part of 4-H. The entire 4-H pledge is about giving of oneself for the benefit of others and specifically the ‘hands’ to larger service,” explained Idaho County 4-H program director Susie Heckman. “When a 6-or 7-year old 4-H member participates in a community service project every year with their 4-H club and does so until they are a 17-18-year old senior, a pattern has been established and they learn that community service is about being a part of their community – something larger than themselves – their club, their community, their country and their world. I would hope they would continue to be a good citizen in the community they live in as an adult and teach their own children to serve others.”

“True leadership is serving others,” Heckman emphasized.

The 4-H clubs in Idaho County contributed a total of 5,566.5 hours of volunteer service in their local communities in 2012. Membership enrollment for 2012 was 475 youth and 110 adult volunteers.

By age, the percentage of volunteers in Idaho includes: 16-19 year old, 32.7 percent; 20-24, 17.6 percent; 25-34, 33.1 percent; 35-44, 43.1 percent; 45-54, 42.2 percent; 55-64, 34 percent; 65-74, 45.9 percent; and those 75 and older, 32.3 percent.

The largest area for volunteers is under the religious category at 42.8 percent, followed by education, 22.3 percent, social services, 13.7 percent, and health, 5.6 percent. Rounding out that list are volunteers in the sports and arts, 4.8 percent, and civic areas, 4.7 percent, with a miscellaneous “other” category catching 2.9 percent of volunteers.

Following Idaho at number three and rounding out the top 10 states are Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Washington and Vermont. The bottom five include Arkansas, Florida, Nevada, New York and Louisiana.

Overall, in Idaho in 2012 36.5 percent of all residents volunteered. This equaled out to 425,050 volunteers in the state and 48.6 volunteer hours per resident or 52.2 million hours of service. More than $939 million of service was contributed. In addition, 55.7 percent of Idaho residents donate to charity.

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