Empowering Volunteers to Lead Extension Educational Programs

Empowering Volunteers to Lead
Extension Educational Programs
Improving Lives. Improving Texas.
Volunteer-led Extension Programs
• Create Greater Impact in
• Add Credibility to Extension
Benefits of Volunteer-led Programs
• Greater Impact in Communities
– Volunteers extend Extension’s
sphere of influence in the
– Volunteers have time to focus on
a specific problem and then
address target audience
Benefits of Volunteer-led Programs
• Credibility
– Private citizens who
choose to work with
Extension; unsalaried
– Volunteers are objective
Source: From the Top Down, Susan J. Ellis
Volunteers Leading Extension Programs
• Specific Program Areas
– Home Horticulture & Gardening
– All areas of 4-H (*4-H Livestock)
– Wellness topics
– Physical Activity (i.e. Walk Across Texas)
– Natural Resource conservation
– Commodity topics
AgriLife Extension Volunteer Facts
• Last year more than 104,000 people
volunteer for Texas AgriLife Extension*
• 18,639 of these volunteers led
Extension educational programs
• These 18,639 volunteers reached over
3 million Texans through educational
*Texas AgriLife Extension 2009 Data
Volunteer Facts: A Closer Look
• Less than 18% of Extension’s volunteer
force is taking a lead role in delivering
educational programming, yet this
group reached over 3 million Texans
with life-changing information.
Volunteers - Unlimited Potential
• Increasing the number of volunteers
leading educational programs has an
exponential impact.
• Empowering volunteers is the key
Empowering Volunteers
Empowerment is giving
volunteers responsibility,
along with authority and
resources, to accomplish
their mission.
Empowering Volunteers: Orientation
• Why is orientation
– Allows individual to join
as an informed equal
– Motivates volunteers
– Provides forum for
Extension to explain
expectations, goals and
Three Parts of Orientation
• Social Orientation
• Position Orientation
• System Orientation
Social Orientation
• Introduction to county staff
• Tour of facility/office
• Explanation of dress code
• Directions to the break room
• How to operate the copy machine, fax
machine, etc.
Position Orientation
• Overview of roles and responsibilities
• Review the position description
System Orientation
• Mission of Extension
• Legislation that created and defined
Cooperative Extension
• Program Areas
• Volunteer Opportunities
• Policies and Procedures
Utilizing Volunteers
• Setting up a system
– Find a good balance of program
ownership and responsibility
– Show trust and freedom through
– Expectations and evaluation should
be included in system
Utilizing Volunteers
Setting up a System
• Pair new volunteer with veteran with
at least one year experience
– Shadow veteran to at least two
– Practice presentations prior to delivery
to target audience
Utilizing Volunteers
Setting up a System
• If equipment is provided by Extension,
have volunteers who are responsible for
the check out and return of all materials
• Provide resources for continued education
and allow volunteers the opportunity to
offer recommendations for including new
material in program presentations
Adjust Your Attitude and Actions
• Understand what it means to be a
– Their time is valuable too, be appreciative
of that
– Think about frustrations of volunteers and
how they can be eliminated
• Give up some control
– Do not give up administrative duties, but
allow them to show leadership when
Adjust Your Attitude and Actions
• Let them to work!
– Take their ideas and transform
them into tasks
– Guide their efforts/supply
Motivate Yourself, Motivate Others
• A great start on motivating volunteers is
to motivate yourself because it is
• Show enthusiasm! Interacting with
volunteers is not a hindrance, but an
integral part of Extension
• Project a friendly and open persona
Motivate Yourself, Motivate Others
• Meet frequently with volunteers
– Studies show meeting frequently (with a
purpose) increases and sustains
volunteer enthusiasm
• Be a listener; show concern and
respect for their opinions
Motivating Volunteers
• Recognize their efforts!
– Reward them for a job well
• Public recognition
– Let them know the impact
of their efforts
– Personal thank you note or
telephone call
What can I do if my volunteers
do not become empowered?
• Take it slow
• If they fail to feel empowered, other
problems may exist.
Reap the Benefits!
• You are developing leaders!
Helpful Resource
• The Volunteerism Resources Section of
Extension’s Organizational Development
Web Site