Each year, over 10,000 volunteers contribute more than 150,000 hours in support of Arizona Cooperative Extension outreach programs, throughout the state.
Their enthusiasm is contagious. Working in their community, volunteers share recent breakthroughs in research that can be applied in Arizona to gardening, water conservation, nutrition, physical activity, health and food safety, money management, and more. Teaching young people and old, volunteers increase the outreach and educational programs of the University of Arizona and Arizona Cooperative Extension.
Specialized training from Cooperative Extension faculty and staff is the key to success. Other than their curiosity and zeal, they usually bring no prior experience or training in an area. Most receive up to 50 hours of science-based education from University faculty.
In exchange for their training, most Cooperative Extension volunteer programs require volunteer hours, using a "train-the-trainer" model. This method results in a multiplier effect, since volunteers are able to reach a much wider audience than one-on-one efforts by University faculty could. Many commit to giving back up to 200 hours of volunteer service to the public through phone consultations, workshops and demonstrations.
In 2012, Arizona Cooperative Extension had 16,750 volunteers, logging 213,871 volunteer hours. Both Cooperative Extension and the community reap economic benefits from time donated. In Arizona the average hourly exchange rate is valued at $22.14 (as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics). This translates to a contribution of over $4.5 million by volunteers through Cooperative Extension statewide programs to the people of Arizona.