Volunteers as Leaders


That is the message conveyed throughout the 1-1/2 hour long presentation on “Volunteers as Leaders” for all Sandoval County Master Gardeners. This first–time ever Project Leadership Training was conducted by Sandy Liakus and Charlene Spiegel on Friday, 03/27/15, at the Sandoval County Extension Center and was attended by over 25 Master Gardeners and SCMG Interns.

The focus of the training was on “developing the leadership abilities of the volunteers,” which happens to be the second subject of our SCMG Mission Statement found in the SCMG Handbook.   The presentation included a review of our Shared Values of Education, Cooperation, Self Sufficiency, Service and Communication – the pillars of our SCMG organization – and how they connect to our outreach and volunteer projects. Hot topics of discussion were managing “Volunteer Expectations vs. Realty”, as well as the ongoing challenges of Volunteer Recruitment, Volunteer Retention, and Project Leader Succession.  SCMG volunteer leadership abilities are developed through various “on-the-project” learning opportunities taught or demonstrated by other Master Gardeners. Did you know that teaching others is the most effective way to learn?

The How-To’s in effective communication for project leaders and volunteers and publicizing projects were included in the class.   A packet of important forms and documents, such as the “New Project Form”, “Budget Request Form” and examples of project protocols were provided to each participant. Participants requested that all Project Protocols be made available for viewing on our SCMG web site members’ page.

Responses to the “Focus Questions” and verbal comments were reviewed and summarized. The Project Leader Training Workshop will be repeated in the Fall of 2015 and expanded based on the participant responses and the range of leadership experience of our members. The next time the Project Leadership Training will be presented in two parts: the first segment will focus on the “nuts and bolts” of Project Leadership – the forms, the process, and project requirements; and the second segment will be a “round table” forum consisting of experienced SCMG project leaders.

Also, coming soon – two “ready to go” packets will be created to assist future SCMG volunteers; one will consist of all the documents that are necessary for new SCMG Project Leaders, and the other will contain materials for Outreach events – SCMG brochures, handouts, sign-up sheets, etc. Both will be packaged in clearly marked manila envelopes and be available in the Casita at the Extension Office.

Again, this was a first time ever SCMG Project Leader Training Workshop, and we welcome hearing back from other SCMG members on how to improve our process of training SCMG leaders. Click here for “SCMG Project Leader Training Focus Questions”. (Download the PDF version here.) Please email your responses to scmgclassreg@gmail.com, or drop off a hard copy to Lynda Garvin at the Extension Office.

Thanks again to all who attended the first SCMG Project Leadership Training Class! You all have made this a unique learning experience–

SCMG Charlene Spiegel – 2014

SCMG Sandy Liakus – 2008