For this month’s Volunteer of the Month, we honor Kirk Astroth (above center), Assistant Dean and Director of Arizona 4-H Development at the University of Arizona.
A couple of us first met Kirk in January 2014. We were instantly struck by his warmth and passion for youth development. After spending just an hour with Kirk, we knew he would be an excellent volunteer. We were right.
Seven months later, Kirk went on his first Winrock volunteer assignment, under our USAID-funded Farmer-to-Farmer program in Nepal. He made a deep impression on his trainees, who were representatives from the National Youth Federation of Nepal (NYFN) and other youth-serving organizations.
Kirk introduced essential elements of positive youth development and demonstrated many hands-on activities to engage youth, as pictured below.
After his assignment, Kirk assisted NYFN to obtain scholarships to participate in The First Global 4H Summit 2014 in South Korea. After attending the summit, the inspired NYFN staff immediately began the process of registering a 4-H club. In January 2015, they received government approval and established 4-H Nepal, the first in the country.
Last month, Kirk and the University of Arizona sponsored Mr. Lok Raj Awasthi, General Secretary of NYFN and Chair of the newly registered 4-H Club Nepal, to come to the US for nearly three weeks of youth development training and 4-H exchanges with American and international 4-H leaders. Kirk and his family also hosted Lok in their home during Lok’s time in Arizona.
Lok credits Kirk for giving NYFN critical information and encouragement. “Before Kirk, we didn’t have any idea about 4-H. Kirk inspired us,” he explains.
Ever-so-humble, Kirk says, “I just wish I could bring more people.”
When asked about his hopes for Lok and 4-H Nepal, Kirk explains:
“My hope, first of all, is that I and others can support their work to be successful. They set a very ambitious goal (for 10,000 youth to be involved in 4-H in all 75 districts of the country). I hope that, through 4-H, they can give their kids a sense of hope and a sense of mastery over their own future and their own destiny. Youth don’t see a viable future for themselves in Nepal. If we can give them a sense of hope and optimism and teach them entrepreneurship and other skills, they can have the ability to start their own futures.”
We are so grateful for Kirk’s outstanding commitment and service… and we look forward to seeing the great things that come from Lok and others in Nepal as a result of Kirk’s volunteer assignment and generous ongoing support!
This is the Farmer-to-Farmer Program at its best.