National 4-H Council has received a $500,000 donation from the Monsanto Company to drive the continued expansion of the National 4-H Volunteer Initiative. This grant will fund vital volunteer training programs and the development of new volunteer recruitment and retention strategies.

The National 4-H Volunteer Initiative provides 4-H’s network of more than 540,000 existing volunteers with an extensive hands-on training experience - enhancing their abilities to effectively mentor youth with positive youth development opportunities to learn leadership, citizenship and other important life skills. Core training delivery modes consist of forum events that allow 4-H volunteers to network, learn program information and share best practices.

"Generous partners like Monsanto make it possible for 4-H to build an extensive network of well-trained volunteers, and to continue developing and implementing high-quality positive youth development programs," said Donald T. Floyd, Jr., National 4-H Council president and CEO. “Volunteers have always been the backbone of the 4-H system, ensuring that our nation’s youth have the positive mentoring, guidance and hands-on learning they need to become future workforce leaders and active citizens.”

Monsanto is the only national corporate partner investing in 4-H volunteerism. Since 2007, Monsanto has invested in local 4-H programs by funding resources for 4-H volunteers. More than 30,000 volunteers and thousands of local 4-H families have been reached through Monsanto-sponsored 4-H volunteer training forums and online recruitment and retention tools.

"Monsanto and 4-H have enjoyed a partnership for more than 50 years, and we continue to find ways to strengthen that partnership to better serve our future leaders," said Linda Arnold, Monsanto customer advocacy lead. "We are proud of the volunteer program and salute the thousands of dedicated volunteers across rural America for making a difference in the lives of our youth today."

Monsanto has also built capacity among 4-H professionals by its three-year sponsorship of the online volunteer management training Everyone Ready®, and providing 4-H Volunteer Management Awards that are presented at the annual National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (NAE4-HA) Conference. A new 4-H volunteer recruitment toolkit will be rolled out at the 2012 NAE4-HA Conference in Orlando, FL.

Additionally, approximately $1 million has been donated to local 4-H clubs through Monsanto's America's Farmers Grow Communities program. The program allows farmers to register to win $2,500 for their favorite community nonprofit organization, such as 4-H, local schools, fire departments and other civic groups. One winner is selected in each of 1,245 eligible counties in 39 states.