Do the numbers.
WSU Cooperative Extension has 228 faculty spread across the state. Yet, each year Cooperative Extension touches the lives of hundreds of thousands of Washington residents.
How is it done?
Its not magic. Extension gets a little help from its friends, nearly 12,000 trained volunteers, about two- thirds in the 4-H program alone.
Case in point: Pierce County, the states second largest county, with a population of more than 660,000.
We leverage our county and state dollars through volunteers, said Joanne Ross, chair of WSU Pierce County Cooperative Extension. They are absolutely critical to the success of our program in Pierce County.
Extension volunteers in Pierce County contributed more than 330,000 hours last year, according to Ross. They helped provide educational programming to 21,000 people considered to be at risk, among other duties. The estimated value of their work was $4 million.
Two were singled out by the county for recognition earlier this year. Sueko Ericksen, a clothing and textiles advisor, and Doreen Barry, a 4-H leader, were honored as 2000 Volunteers of the Year.
Ericksens volunteer service dates back 13 years and averages 300 volunteer hours a year. She spends Thursdays and Fridays conducting sewing classes at WSUs Salishan Learning Center in Tacoma and at the Key Center Library in Lakebay.
Her Key Center class makes and donates most of their projects to pediatric cancer units, nursing homes, homeless shelters, libraries and youth groups, according to colleagues who nominated Ericksen for the county award.
Ericksen also volunteers many days each year, in ticket pre-sales and as hostess at the Sewing & Stitchery Expo in March. This annual event, sponsored by Pierce County Cooperative Extension, is the largest consumer education and trade event for the U.S. sewing industry.
Her community service doesnt stop there. She makes caps, vests, and book bags at home to give to various groups, paying for all her own supplies.
Doreen Barry, principal leader of the Hoofbeats and Paws 4-H Club, has volunteered more than 100,000 hours over the course of 20 years.
She uses a down-to-earth approach and demonstrates that luck takes a lot of hard work and practice, said Theresa Reda Martinez, County Extension educator for 4-H Youth Development. She ably demonstrates 4-H is learning by doing.
When Barry is not involved in meetings, she may be found leading her club in various community service projects, which include a petting zoo taken to area nursing homes and the Rainbow Festival.
Barry judges posters for the Pierce County Fair and has volunteered her services to 4-H at the Western Washington Fair in Puyallup for 12 years.
She is a mentor, substitute mother and grandmother to many of the youth in her club, Martinez said. Without her guidance, several kids would not be where they are today.
In 1999, Barry was presented the Julie M. Martinez Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award. The award recognizes adults whose distinguished service has made a significant difference for youth.
We couldnt reach all the people that we do without our volunteers, Ross said.
Indeed, we get by with tremendous help from our friends.