Montana State University

MSU Extension agent and family honored for volunteerism

March 23, 2010 -- MSU News Service

Roni Baker along with her husband Mike, daughter Andee, and son Adam, were recognized for their volunteerism and service during a celebration at Disney World in Florida.   High-Res Available

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Roni Baker, MSU Extension agent, Yellowstone County, and her family were recognized for their commitment to improving their local community during a celebration in February at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.

Disney Parks is hoping to inspire families to get involved with community volunteer projects through the Give a Day, Get a Disney Day program through the HandsOn Network. The event brought together more than 100 families from all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Canada at Epcot to celebrate their volunteer service and commitment to embedding the value of service in future generations.

Roni along with her husband Mike, daughter Andee, age 9, and son Adam, age 6, have been contributing their time and effort doing informal volunteering by helping people when it is needed. Their volunteer efforts have benefitted a variety of organizations and causes including child abuse prevention, senior citizens, Relay for Life, and the sick, needy and hospitalized.

Service learning is also an integral part of the 4-H program Roni's family is involved with through her job as 4-H Extension agent for Yellowstone County and their local 4-H club. Families doing service projects for others is a core part of 4-H.

"The tradition of volunteering as a family is an increasing trend as parents see the benefits of service on their children," says Kathy Saulitis, vice president of youth and family engagement for HandsOn Network. "It teaches the values of kindness, compassion, tolerance, responsibility and good citizenship, and strengthens communication within the whole family. Service has been linked to improved school engagement, decreased antisocial behavior, violence, and alcohol/tobacco abuse; and reduced rates of teen pregnancy, class failure and school suspensions."

The Bakers were nominated by the advisory council of the volunteer center of United Way of Yellowstone County, an affiliate of HandsOn Network.

"The Bakers were nominated in large part because of the way they have demonstrated the value of service for their children by integrating service into their family life," said Pam Sanderson, volunteer center director. "At young ages, before agencies may have opportunities for young children, the ethic of service can be instilled within family-organized activities. The Bakers are an exemplary model for that and we were delighted to have them not only represent Yellowstone County but the state of Montana."

Contact: Pam Sanderson 406-252-3839 ext. 15