ISOTURE #3: Orientation

After identifying, screening and selecting volunteers, next comes the all-important ORIENTATION.

An effective volunteer orientation is critical in that it sets the tone and culture for the type of 4-H program you want to have.  Good orientations cover the basics without overwhelming new volunteers, and typically last 45-90 minutes in length.  Orientations may be conducted one-on-one in your office, or you may find it more time-conscious to pre-schedule 1-4 orientations during the year such that when new volunteers are selected they wait until the next scheduled orientation to begin.

Things to cover in your orientation should include:

  •  The big picture.  The mission, vision, and values of both Cooperative Extension and 4-H, and how the volunteer fits into this picture.
  • An opportunity to meet ALL Extension staff.
  • 4-H 101:  Branding (pledges, emblem, slogan, motto, colors), ages served, clubs, projects, events, activities, recognition.
  • Positive Youth Development 101:  Targeting Life Skills, Essential Elements
  • BASIC Risk Management.
  • The Role of the 4-H Agent.  Of all things, I believe this is one of the most critical things to make clear to new volunteers.  Explain your job, including your role as a faculty member and expectation to contribute to scholarship.  Explain what they should be reasonably able to expect from you.  Underpromise and Overdeliver.
  • Officially appoint the volunteer to their new position, including signing a volunteer role description.

    And remember- DON’T OVER DO IT!  There will be room for more training as the volunteer continues service with your program.

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