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Inside The Mind of a Youth Volunteer: Subscriber Circle Recap

Posted By Helen Lin, Youth Auditor, September 15, 2016
Updated: September 14, 2016
Volunteer Toronto Subscriber Circle 

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes 

 

Whether they are the front-line and driving force of your organization, or they play an integral role in putting smiles on your seniors’ faces, engaging high school volunteers can be a challenge. But it doesn’t have to be!

 Helen Lin - Volunteer Toronto Youth Auditor
 Helen Lin - Youth Audtior

For our August Subscriber Circle on “Engaging Youth Volunteers” we asked high school student and Volunteer Toronto Youth Auditor Helen Lin to attend and offer her perspective to the discussion. Here’s Helen’s thoughts on three of the main questions discussed at the circle. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Question 1: Some of my volunteers come intermittently, how can I get them to maintain regular shifts?

Helen’s Observation: Two volunteer managers shared that they do not sign any papers until the volunteer has reached the minimum commitment that they signed up for. I think it is certainly acceptable to be strict with your no-show policies, but attendance and punctuality can also be enforced by letting your volunteers know how important their work is to the organization.


Question 2: How can I convince volunteers to stay beyond their 40-hour mark?

Helen’s Observation: There are two types of volunteers: the ones who just want to complete the bare minimum, and the ones who want to seek meaningful opportunities. For the first group, have a conversation about the meaning behind volunteering. Lead them to an epiphany! When I started volunteering, I was caught up in the number of hours, but since then I have been able to think more deeply about my work and what it all means – to myself, the organization, and the community.

 

Question 3: What if it’s just not working out for the volunteer?

Helen’s Observation: They tell you networking is the most important skill these days, and it can really be beneficial for your volunteers. From the application and interview, you will know what volunteer’s goals are, or why they applied for your organization. Unfortunately, sometimes it doesn’t end up working out. One volunteer manager shared that she had many interested volunteers but no place for them because the organization is centred around heavy conversations concerning death. If you know another organization that could use an enthusiastic volunteer, being that connection could help make a perfect match.

 

Need more help? We’ve got you covered! This post only scraps the surface of ways to better engage youth in volunteering with your organization. If you are looking for some solid advice and next steps, we would highly recommend booking a Youth Audit, where our Auditors go into detail on the topics that are involved with youth in volunteers, such as selection and training, communication, benefits and perks, and promotions and advertising!


Helen Lin is a grade 10 students at TOPS - Marc Garneau Collegiate and she is a Youth Auditor at Volunteer Toronto. She started formally volunteering at age 12, and hasn't stopped her community involvement since. Helen has also volunteered at SickKids Foundation, TEDxYouth@Toronto, Ladies Learning Code, and Baycrest Hospital. Her passions include gender rights, sustainable development, global health, social innovation, engineering, and entrepreneurship."


 

Tags:  engaging youth volunteers  High School volunteers  How to get youth volunteers  Youth volunteers 

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What I’ve Learned From Our High School Volunteers

Posted By Leigh Paulseth, VECTor 2015 Presenter, January 21, 2016
Updated: January 20, 2016
 
 

Leigh Paulseth presents “Recruiting our Next Leaders: Creating a High School Volunteer Program” at the 2016 VECTor Conference on March 9, 2016.  

Register now to choose her workshop, and check out some great tips below!


 

Working for an environmental non-profit organization, it is easy to feel down sometimes about the state of the world. The issues are so big and we are constantly looking for the resources to cope. How can a volunteer, let alone a teenager, possibly provide the solution? It’s simple - they provide hope.

Since the launch of our high school volunteer program two years ago, Friends of the Rouge Watershed have trained 21 youth in leadership and environmental action. They have volunteered at countless events, organized youth conferences and even gone on to run their own successful events incorporating our brand and mission. Two years ago I thought that was impossible; now I think that anything is possible. Here are a few of the lesson I’ve learned in watching these great youth volunteers develop:


You can’t do everything yourself.

Giving youth the opportunity to lead opens doors that your organization never knew could be opened.


You don’t have all the answers.

Training youth is more about sharing experiences than imparting knowledge to a younger generation. You will learn as much from them as they will from you.


We’re going to be OK.

The next generation is motivated and enthusiastic; given the opportunity, support and resources, they will make the world a better place.


Creating a high school volunteer program requires clear goals to be set by youth and the organization. Often it takes some time to set these up properly, but it is possible and the outcome is more than worthwhile. I look forward to sharing our own program’s challenges and successes at the VECTor Conference this March.


 


Leigh Paulseth is FRW’s Environmental Projects and Volunteer Coordinator. Her studies in Conservation Biology (B.Sc.) and Environmental Management (MREM) led her to pursue work in active environmental stewardship. She uses her past experience protecting private lands with land trusts to protect and restore public land in the Rouge. Leigh enjoys working with local communities to address local environmental issues both inside and outside of work. She loves to travel, canoe and is a beginner knitter.

Follow them on Twitter: @frwatershed

Tags:  advice for working with youth  attracting youth volunteers  Friends of The Rouge Watershed  high school volunteers  how to get youth volunteers  VECTor 2016  VECTor Presenter  Working with youth volunteers  Youth volunteers 

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