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Volunteer IMPACT Virtual Symposium - Program

Tuesday, November 15th

12:00-12:55pm ET New Volunteerism through Service Learning - Erika Frank and Kara Newport, Filoli

The pandemic put a spotlight on volunteerism in the public garden and museum world. Many programs had to come to a halt resulting in staff adjusting to cover long standing volunteer tasks, step back from individual person management that comes with many volunteer programs, and analyze the efficacy and role of volunteerism at their institutions. This session will discuss the journey that Filoli went on to transform a volunteer program that existedfor decades. It will address how strategic planning, an enthusiastic and committed board of directors, staff-centric culture all made for a recipe ofrealignment. This multi-year journey resulted in Service Learning, the new volunteerism at Filoli where the experience is centered around learning and engaging new and diverse audiences. The program also prioritizes just that, creating an experience for those who join.

1:00-1:20pm ET Connecting Volunteer Opportunities to Personal Experiences - Anna Arft, San Diego Botanic Garden

At San Diego Botanic Garden, a passion for nature and plants connects us - staff, volunteers, and guests alike. Through a new grant supported program, Access Afternoons, we’ve taken that connection to a deeper level by incorporating the rich life experiences of our volunteers into the program. Through Access Afternoons, we’ve partnered with five social service organizations in the San Diego area to bring those hit hardest during the pandemic to the Garden. By matching the interests, life experiences, and connections of the volunteers to each of our program partners, we were able to connect volunteers to the right opportunities. The success of the program relies heavily on our volunteers who bring their own personal experiences to their interactions and develop meaningful personal connections with participants. In this brief session, we will share with you the positive experiences we have had in encouraging volunteers with relevant personal and emotional experiences to lead small groups of participants through the program. 

1:25-1:45pm ET Relationship Building for Volunteer Retention and Enjoyment - Rachel Cieri, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

In this session we will share key tips to build relationships with your organization’s volunteers. At PHS, Rachel works closely to foster relationships and positive volunteering experiences with PHS’s 4,000 yearly volunteers, who support events and initiatives such as the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show, the PHS Pop Up Gardens, and the PHS Tree Tendersprogram. This presentation will delve deeper and explore the role that relationship building continues to play in keeping PHS’s volunteer network feeling connected, engaged with its mission, and coming back to support PHS programs and initiatives every season. She will share 5 key best practices that all companies and organizations can apply to their own volunteer base to increase feelings of trust, and keep volunteers feeling valued and appreciated, which ultimately, holds the key to retention and encourages volunteers to give 110% to your cause.

1:45-2:15pm ET 30 minute break

Eat lunch, take a walk, catch up on your inbox - the choice is yours! 

2:15-3:00pm ET Roundtable Discussion

Discuss current topics in volunteer engagement and management with your peers.

3:05-3:50pm ET Get It Done! Leveraging Volunteer Leadership to Care for the Land - Marian Farrior and Judy Kingsbury, University of Wisconsin- Madison Arboretum

Trying to connect with a broader community of volunteers? Striving to overcome constraints on staff time to lead volunteers? Have more weeds to pull and seeds to sow than you can shake a stick at? Join this participatory workshop to learn the principles and practices behind the UW-Madison Arboretum’s Restoration Team Leader Program. Restoration Team Leaders go through an in-depth training to prepare them to work independently with community members at drop-in work parties, without employees on hand to provide direct support. This enables our Arboretum to engage significant numbers of volunteers who restore acres of prairies, oak savannas, and wetlands while learning about ecosystem restoration and ecology of Wisconsin’s ecosystems. Simultaneously the Restoration Team Leader volunteers strengthen their leadership skills and foster community engagement. Join this workshop and emerge with a clearer idea of what to consider and some next steps to create a similar volunteer program.

3:55-5:00pm ET Volunteer Impact Panel with Q&A

This panel discussion will feature volunteers from different gardens. Hear directly from volunteers about their thoughts on volunteerism, and what they want you as volunteer managers to know! 

Wednesday, November 16th

12:00-12:30pm ET Speed Networking

Get to know your fellow attendees through a fun speed networking exercise! 

12:35-1:20pm ET Exploring the Benefits of Volunteer Impact - Amy Weiner, Better Impact and Eryn Hatzithomas, Queens Botanical Garden

If you have goals of exploring the benefits of volunteer management software (VMS) for your program, you won’t want to miss this opportunity!

If you feel challenged with too much data entry, processes that take longer than they should to complete throughout the volunteer life cycle and have questioned if there’s a better way, you should join this session!

Eryn Hatzithomas shares with you her:

  •  Journey + tips to successfully choosing a VMS 
  •  Reasons for selecting Volunteer Impact over other VMS’s
  •  Top 3 features and benefits of Volunteer Impact
  •  Results since implementing Volunteer Impact 

Recruit. Onboard. Communicate. Schedule. Report…and so much more.

Get in the know about the many ways THIS volunteer management software (VMS) solution can make you smile!

1:25-1:45pm ET In the Loop: Improved Volunteer Communication with Leadership Chats - Elizabeth Barton, United States Botanic Garden

During the pandemic, the U.S. Botanic Garden developed a new strategy to keep volunteers engaged, informed, and connected in a time of minimalvolunteer opportunities. Regularly scheduled Leadership Chats included presentations from upper management, open Q and A for volunteers, and lots of beautiful pictures from the Garden. These chats were so successful that we have decided to adapt them as a long-term communication strategy, with benefits for both volunteers and the Garden. In this session, you’ll get some quick-start tips and advice on creating a similar program for your organization. We’ll cover strategies for getting leadership buy-in and building trust from the volunteers.

1:50-2:10pm ET Volunteer Docents Go Virtual: Where There's an Internet Connection, There's a Way to Share Nature Engagement - Christine Chessler-Stull, University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum

The pandemic pause (2020-2021) forced volunteer programs to re-think how - and where - they could engage with the public during a time of closures and ongoing public health challenges. Learn how the University of Michigan Botanical Gardens' Docent volunteer team stepped up to the challenge of implementing virtual engagement during the pandemic and what has continued into 2022. 

2:10-2:40pm ET 30 Minute Break

Eat lunch, take a walk, catch up on your inbox - the choice is yours! 

2:40-3:25pm ET Roundtable Discussions

Join us to have more in depth discussion about topics that have been brought up in presentations. 

3:30-3:50pm ET Better Together: Combining Volunteer Programs Post-Merger - Gillian Liechty and Vera Neumann-Wood, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

In May of 2020, Selby Gardens adopted Historic Spanish Point as a sister campus, prompting both campuses to look at their existing volunteer programs and determine the best way to move forward as one organization. The process of aligning two geographically separate volunteer programs under oneumbrella afforded us the opportunity to look at both programs with fresh eyes, which led to changes to our record keeping, volunteer recognition events,and volunteer communications. Attendees will learn about how our organization successfully navigated the many challenges that accompany a merger tobuild a single, cohesive, and robust volunteer program.

3:55-5:00pm ET From "Meh" to "Marvelous!": Leveraging Volunteer Talent to Transform Your Handbook - Tracee Patterson and Patrick Biliter, Holden Forests & Gardens

This session outlines a process for transforming a dated, uninspiring volunteer handbook into an engaging, interactive digital tool using the power of aVolunteer Task Force. Learn how to recruit and manage an effective team, create and collaborate in a virtual workspace, and deploy volunteers insharing and promoting their results. You’ll leave this session with toolkit full of templates, cheat sheets and resources to guide and develop your ownvolunteer handbook review team.