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Quarterly Earth Team Volunteer Coordinator’s Meeting Minutes—April 14, 2016

The Earth Team (ET) Volunteers Coordinators’ meeting was held at the Salina State Office (SO) Conference Center on April 14, 2016.

Attendees were as follows:

  • State Volunteer Coordinator—Toni Flax
  • Area Volunteer Coordinators
    • Karri Honaker (Area 1)
    • Leslie Spikes (Area 2)
    • Mike Van Wyk (Area 3)
    • Mechelle Foos (Area 4)
    • Sheila Forrester (State Office/PMC)

The meeting was called to order at 10:07 a.m.

Toni welcomed everyone and the group made introductions.  Minutes from the January 14, 2016, were reviewed.

Previous minutes have been submitted to be posted to the Kansas ET site.  Review of the minutes prompted the following conversation:

  • The previous tracking system developer has left due to their contract expiring and the site is now located on the Department of Interior server.  Troubleshooting may be limited at this time but we will still send issues up to Bonnie and Michele for assistance.
  • Copies of award letters were sent out by Jan to the respective coordinators.  These may not contain signatures, but are for file copies only.  The signed copies have been sent out already.

State ET Coordinator Report–Toni Flax

  • Sent/responded to emails on Regional Awards
  • Helped Mike with issues on not seeing Jodi Cushenberry
    • Sent to Bonnie, possible browser issue
  • Joyce Wade requested banner stand
  • Sent emails out as requested by Dorlene for pictures and 301A Forms for Regional Winners
  • Met with Jan to work on Area 1 PowerPoint and tracking system training
  • Trained Karri Honaker as the new Area 1 Coordinator, assisted by Jan
  • Replied to question from Marcus Griffin in Lakin
  • Replied to email from Bonnie
  • Complied and sent Dorlene pictures and 301A Form
  • Presented tracking system training to the district mangers with Jan at the Area 4 All Employee Meeting.
  • Presented an ET update and Apprentice Drive PowerPoint to everyone as well as the tracking system training to the district managers at the Area 1 All Employee’s Meeting
  • Reset a password
  • Set up a spreadsheet for the Area 1 Apprentice Drive
  • Worked with Jan on ideas for National Volunteer Week
  • Had a teleconference with Public Affairs Specialist (PAS) Mitch about updating items on our Web site, as well as National Volunteer Week ideas
  • Presented the Tracking System training to the district mangers with Jan at the Area 2 All Employee Meeting
  • Received Regional Awards from National Office and sent them to the people who were to present them
  • Sent out second quarter teleconference minutes
  • Sent out email on new codes for tracking system

Area Coordinator Reports

State Office/PMC–Sheila Forrester

  • Working on a new Kansas NRCS Apprentice Program brochure for state use
  • Provided volunteer form and ET information to NRCS retiree who was doing a presentation at a high school
  • Provided a volunteer form to a NRCS employee so that his wife could be signed up as a volunteer while attending an organic producer meeting in northeast Kansas on a Saturday 

Area 1–Karri Honaker

  • Met with Toni and Jan to get set up in the system
  • Completed training for area coordinators with Toni and Jan
  • Recorded time for Area Office volunteers in the tracking system
  • Worked with Hays Management Unit (MU) Field Office (FO) to acquire recognition items for a volunteer in their office
  • Sent emails to the area with info on tracking system, deadline to submit hours, etc.
  • Brainstormed Earth Team activity ideas with Jan
  • Sent emails to the area on National Volunteer week
  • Participated in the National Earth Team Teleconference
  • Included Earth Team information on monthly staff meeting report
    • Announced National Volunteer week at staff meeting

Area 2–Leslie Spikes

  • Assisted on resetting username/passwords for multiple office administrators
  • Correspondence to field, Toni, and Jan for regional award winners for keepsake items/ photos
  • Throughout quarter—verified time reminders
  • Throughout quarter—worked with the volunteer tracking system resolving FO issues
  • Attended ET volunteer coordinators meeting in Salina on January 13-14
  • Emailed reminder to all offices to enter hours for second quarter
  • Assisted Hugoton FO with recognition items
  • Set up Barbara Good, Susan Buffington, and Christine Kirkpatrick (need assistance on this one) as office administrators
  • Ran reports for Ulysses and Hugoton MU for SDCs
  • Attended ET volunteer coordinator training with district managers in Pratt put on by Toni Flax and Jan Klaus

Area 3–Mike Van Wyk

  • Assisted three district managers with login issues and provided general information on navigating the new site
  • Developed help sheets for creating volunteers and adding hours in the new ET tracking site
  • Provided assistant state conservationist for field operations (ASTC-FO) with information on the Apprentice Program
  • Sent email to FOs with the new PER-004 form along with help sheets following testing by several district managers
  • Presented at district conservationist (DC) meeting on finding current hours, new PER-004, time code changes, provided hour totals, and fielded question on entering hours for producers driving field visits
  • Sent email reminder to DCs and Supervisory DCs that they needed to have 2nd quarter hours entered by April 8
  • Resolved issue where active volunteer had been archived
  • Reviewed “Tasks our Volunteers can Perform”
  • Made travel arrangements for Des Moines training

Area 4–Mechelle Foos

  • Completed minutes from the first quarter Earth Team coordinators meeting
  • Followed up to make sure recognition items and letters from Eric Banks were presented to award nominees and winners
  • Sent two emails to the area reminding them about entering volunteer hours in the tracking system
  • Sent an email notifying Area 4 of the new activity codes and timesheets
  • Sent four emails to counties that had very few or zero hours in the tracking system
  • Answered four emails about eligible hours
  • Set up four new office administrators
  • Provided volunteer forms to three field offices
  • Worked with several counties to get their participation at the district manager’s break-out session at the partnership meeting
  • Working with one SDC to get a time set up to complete volunteer needs assessment for the management unit
  • Provided information on the volunteer program to an area office employee who was doing a presentation at a high school
  • Monitored the tracking system for errors

Second Quarter Reports

  • Discussed ET hours from the past quarter and yearly totals for each area and the state office/PMC

Recap National Volunteer Week

  • Discussed emails and outreach sent to FOs so far this week and what is planned for the rest of the week
  • Discussed ideas for next year including ways to recognize volunteers with recognition items, cards and a lunch/potluck.  Coordinators encouraged to create a list of ideas for next year

Third Quarter National ET Teleconference Notes

Discussed notes from the national teleconference on March 23, 2016.  Discussion highlights included:

  • Discussed current status of LincPass and AltLinc hurdles
  • Kansas will have a new NRCS-PER-004 form with the update activity codes.  Jan will work on getting this updated
  • Discussed upcoming training in Des Moines and travel logistics
  • Jan and Toni will work to get training binders to those coordinators that do not have one
  • The national office will be pulling reports on April 18

Tracking System

  • Discussed possibility of there being a form for administrators to sign in the future for access to the tracking system due to security concerns
  • All administrators that no longer need that access need to be demoted to “volunteer” or archived in the system
  • One time groups that are no longer active need to be archived
  • Changes to administrators and one time groups will be completed by coordinators by April 25

Recap of Earth Team Refresher Training

  • Trainings that were completed have been well received and Jan and Toni received good feedback from the participants
  • Due to limited time on the agenda, Mike will give a short presentation at the Area 3 meeting

Apprentice Drive

  • Toni summarized efforts in Area 1 to recruit apprentices
  • Discussed some of the challenges with the AltLinc Pass
  • Background checks for those under 18 do not include fingerprinting
  • Background checks/security awareness training will be routed through the respective area office
  • Toni recommended other coordinators try to have offices recruit additional apprentices in their areas

Revised “Task Guide” and Did You Know

  • Reviewed email from HQ on counting hours for board members
  • Discussed hours that board members cannot count due to their elected/appointed position including attending meetings within their area
  • Discussed re-wording question 21 in the task guide to include hours for producers that are driving during field visits.  Mike will work on rewording this or possibly adding another question/answer
  • Leslie will continue to work on the “Did You Know” for this quarter

Review of 2015 Kansas Earth Team Business Plan

  • Reviewed plan and identified what goals were met and those that fell short
  • Reviewed 2016 Business Plan and identified several areas where names and dates need to be updated

Old & New Business

  • Sheila has been working on the apprentice flyer
  • There was some discussion on news releases and other materials, and they may need to be updated to include the new equal opportunity (EO) statement.  Sheila will look into this

Questions and Closing Remarks

  • Next meeting is planned for July 14 at the Conference Center