Never underestimate the value of volunteers! A single volunteer can cause more change in a community than a government agency or an organization. A whole corps of dedicated volunteers can do wonders.
Whether they volunteer out of passion or are specifically recruited for their expertise, they play key roles in the organization. Do not take them for granted.
- Give them productive, meaningful tasks that are integral to achieving the goals of the water trail project.
- Lead by example. Be willing to do anything and everything you ask volunteers to do. Participating in work projects and other activities can inspire loyalty to the organization and its mission.
- Support and acknowledge their efforts throughout a project.
- Periodically ask for their suggestions to improve the organization.
- Offer them opportunities for training.
- Recognize their contributions with a genuine “thank you” and an award.
- Continually recruit new volunteers to infuse energy and new ideas into the organization.
The Maine Island Trail Association, which depends on several hundred volunteers to care for more than 130 islands and sites in its 300 miles-plus trail system, has developed volunteer training and recognition to a science ( www.mita.org ).