Volunteer Recruitment, Training and Recognition
Every successful garden project requires committed volunteers. They become involved for a variety of reasons: to meet new people, to make a difference by contributing to their community or to accompany their children who are already involved in the project.
The major components of any volunteer management program are:
- Identify and recruit people who have the interest essential to accomplish the goals of the program.
- Select and place volunteers in roles that will match their skills and availability with the programs needs.
- Orient volunteers to the overall goals of the project.
- Train volunteers in specific skills, knowledge, and goals of the project.
- Recognize and appreciate their contributions.
- Evaluate performance; provide useful feedback.
Key training concepts to communicate to the volunteers might include:
- Involve the students in the decision making such as which seeds to plant, where to plant, etc. Make it their garden.
- Make each student special. Complement openly and correct in private. Recognize good behavior, good ideas, good work, etc.
- Assign tasks or discuss the work to be done in the classroom before going into the garden. Be very clear in assigning work teams and tasks.
- Dont assume that children know or remember garden techniques that have not been fully explained more than once or that have not been demonstrated. Children learn best by hands on work.
- Dont yell for attention in the garden. Do not speak until all are attentive. Do not talk to the backs of heads.
- Young children may tire easily both physically and mentally. Dont overwhelm them with things to do.
- Make the garden a place for serious work and for fun things to do. You need to have fun to make it fun for the children.
Some creative ways to thank volunteers are:
- Awards ceremony in the garden with the children present
- Articles in the school and local newspaper
- A lunch or dinner in their honor
- Thank you notes from the principal, parents, PTA and children
- Share pictures of children and volunteers involved in the garden project