I am a volunteer coordinator at the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) in N.H. The NERR system is a partnership between NOAA and a governing agency (in our case it is N.H. Fish & Game). I recruit and train volunteers for all of our core activities, including education, exhibit room, stewardship, research, coastal training programs and kayak trips. In many instances the training is done in partnership with the program coordinator (for example, education volunteers have a small portion of training with me, but the bulk of their training is with the education coordinator). I also help to run workdays with volunteers, sometimes at other Fish & Game properties, and I am charged with all volunteer recognition events. In addition, I report volunteer hours to NOAA monthly and gather information on all of our programs to do a yearly recap. I also have other responsibilities around the office, such as ordering supplies, website and Facebook updates, and more.
I did a lot of volunteer work in college with The Ocean Conservancy and Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful. I eventually got an internship helping the volunteer coordinator at Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful and I loved it! I really enjoyed recruiting passionate volunteers, teaching them about our programs, and using my knowledge and skills to help a group of people make a large impact on our environment and community. That internship changed my career direction from a research oriented direction to volunteer coordination.
I love working with people who are passionate about what they do and being able to make a bigger impact on my community because I have a group of very dedicated volunteers. I also really love the specific group of people that I work with most. Many of the staff members have been working here for over 10 years and I have some volunteers who have been here for over 20 years! In addition, my day-to-day tasks are rarely the same; sometimes I am at my desk, sometimes I am outside, sometimes I am organizing the basement. I love the variety!
The fact that I am only part time (29.5 hrs/week) makes it hard to get all of my work done. I would love to be here full time to really grow some of our programs that could use a little extra boost.
I love to read, go for walks and play with my cats. My job is fun, and when it gets stressful it’s usually a positive kind of stress ‑‑ the kind that makes me work harder and be more creative, rather than get anxious. But, of course I need my relaxation too. When reading, walks and pets don’t work, I will occasionally get a massage.
I really looked up to my mom; she was always working full time, sometimes more, and for a while was a single mother. She always made sure we had what we needed and was a great role model. She taught us not just right from wrong, but also how to be accepting, patient, loving and fun women. She got us into volunteer work once my sister and I were in high school, and that was the start of my passion for volunteering. Once we were older and off to college she began to volunteer as a mentor for local teenage girls, which was inspirational for me!
In addition, I do look up to my volunteers, who are not only passionate, but dedicated. Some have been with GBNERR for 20+ years, since before our Discovery Center was even built! Some also have full time jobs and kids, and still find time to be involved in their community. It is very motivating!
Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer! It is important to know about your community, what nonprofits are out there, how programs might work, and also what field you want to be involved in. Volunteer coordinators work in almost every field, from the medical field, to working with high risk youth, to environmental stewardship. With my background in biology and environmental science, I knew that I wanted to work for a nonprofit that focused on the environment, specifically the marine environment, and I was lucky enough to find that. But, if you want to really know what you will be passionate about, you need to experience it, and the best way to do that is to give a little bit of your time to an organization in your community. You might just find you love something you never knew you would.
Nationally I believe they are increasing because more and more nonprofits and government agencies rely on volunteers to help support their programs and their mission. In this area, while they may be increasing slightly, many volunteer coordinator jobs are seasonal and/or part time, depending on the field.
Hopefully I will still be here, doing what I love, but doing it full time instead of part time. I have truly found a wonderful place to work, an amazing group of people to work with, and a beautiful place to spend my time. I look forward to growing some of our programs, and positively impacting this community over many years. The only downside of the job is the part time status, which I am hopeful will change to full time over the next couple of years.