Working to Improve Volunteer Experience, Field Support

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Highlights 

  • Report Identifies Recommendations to Improve Volunteer Program
  • Streamlined Processes, Systems Proposed
  • More Incentives for Volunteers Considered

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For more than 100 years, volunteers have worked hard to enhance outreach and community engagement activities, services to visitors and the stewardship of natural and cultural resources in California’s state park system. Their dedication and passion are invaluable to the California Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) and to all of the visitors who enjoy state parks.

On average, DPR has close to 40,000 volunteers per year. Although the department has a very strong foundation, there is so much more that can be done for this important partnership to better recruit, train, motivate and retain volunteers. The Transformation Team’s Partnerships Committee and Volunteers in Parks Program Advisory Subcommittee took on the task to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the current volunteer program.

With the help of field staff, the committee was able to complete the assessment and develop a report titled Assessment and Recommendations for the Volunteers in Parks Program. We hope to daylight the report soon and begin implementing the recommendations, but we wanted to share some highlights with you today.

Some of the recommendations to enhance the volunteer program included:

  • Survey the field for recognition efforts and adopt best practices statewide, whereby increasing recognition tools while keeping the Poppy and Medallion awards.
  • Streamline the volunteer/ docent registration processes.
  • Revision of the Department Operating Chapter pertaining to volunteers.
  • Create online volunteer training opportunities.
  • Create an online database for tracking service duties and hours.
  • End the practice of volunteers paying the “rolling fee” for their fingerprinting.
  • Research the creation of volunteer passes that are given as volunteers reach their required hours, so they may use their pass right away. The goal is to stop the practice of disseminating passes late in a calendar year so they cannot be used by the volunteer for the entire year.

The department is also looking at service-based budgeting results and ways to use that data to improve service and support for staff and volunteers.

DPR is excited about the new, positive opportunities that the assessment will provide to the department and the public. Should you have any questions on this important effort, please contact us via e-mail at transforming.parks@parks.ca.gov.

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