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Quarterly Earth Team Volunteer Coordinator’s Meeting Minutes—April 2, 2015

Attendees were as follows:

  • Jan Klaus, State ET Coordinator
  • Area Volunteer Coordinators
    • Toni Flax (Area1)
    • Leslie Spikes (Area 2)
    • Michael Van Wyk (Area 3)
    • Mechelle Foos (Area 4)
    • Diane Edwards (State Office (SO) & Plant Materials Center [PMC])—absent

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

Jan welcomed everyone. Minutes from the February 4, 2015, teleconference meeting were reviewed and approved.

State ET Coordinator Report—Jan Klaus

  • Reviewed February meeting minutes and submitted to SO for publishing to the Web site
  • Developed the “Guide to Completing the New OF 301a Form “Volunteer Service Agreement - Natural & Cultural Resources”
  • Sent Web site updates to the SO on the new application forms
  • Developed the Kansas Bulletin for National Volunteer Week and sent to SO for posting
  • Requested “Thank You” card from the National Earth Team office and printed one for each field office (FO) to be signed by all coordinators
  • Developed the Kansas Earth Team Volunteer Business Plan for fiscal year (FY) 2016
  • Participated in the National Earth Team 2nd quarter teleconference
  • Participated in the thematic training on National Volunteer Week
  • Developed the News Release for Joyce Wade—National Earth Team Coordinator award winner
  • Reviewed General Manual Policy Title 360, Part 428 as requested by the National Earth Team office
  • Provided a report on the People’s Garden Initiative
  • Mailed out all Earth Team recognition items as requested
  • Continued work on the PowerPoint for the 2014 Earth Team award winners for the Kansas Web site
  • In the process of coordinating training for New Mexico coordinators
  • Prepared the 2nd quarter reports and set agenda for the 2nd quarter Earth Team coordinators’ meeting.
  • Answered questions and requests from coordinators and the National Volunteer office on an as-needed basis.

Area Coordinator Reports and Comments on Earth Team Accomplishments

Discussed ways to recognize offices and how to correct archiving problem in the tracking system. Reports were then given by the following area coordinators:

Area 1—Toni Flax

  • February
    • National Committee—“Employees who started as Volunteers” teleconference
      • Sent out minutes and email pertaining to the teleconference
      • Fielded emails on the tracking system and questions about countable hours
  • March
    • National Committee—“Employees who started as Volunteers” teleconference
      • Sent out minutes for the teleconference
      • Wrote and worked with Darlene Butler in Fort Worth on email to State Coordinators about data collection on Earth Team Alumni; will continue working on this planning process
    • Listened in on the National Thematic call—National Volunteers Week
    • Sent out several email reminders to input hours in tracking system
    • Fielded several question on countable hours
    • Forwarded emails from State Coordinator to Area employees
    • Sent out email to Area 1 employees on Lody Black (former apprentice) and the use of apprentices
    • Sent out emails following the release of the National Volunteers Week packet and celebration information and ideas

Area 2—Leslie Spikes

  • Earth Team Volunteers presentation at all employees meeting on February 22, 2015; gave out small recognition item to those that participated in nomination process
  • Completed a Needs Assessment and reviewed files with Ulysses Management Unit (MU) on February 19, 2015—provided follow-up email
  • Email to input hours by April 1, Earth Team Volunteer week reminder, and keepsake availability
  • Training, review files at Meade FO on March 2, 2015—provided follow-up email
  • Training via email for South Hutchinson office
  • Set up 3 users in South Hutchinson office
  • Answered various questions on eligible hours
  • Listened in on February 19, 2015, National Office teleconference
  • Listened in on thematic teleconference on March 12, 2015

Area 3—Michael Van Wyk

  • Listened in on Feb 19 National Office teleconference
  • Listened in on thematic teleconference on March 12, 2015
  • Sent several reminders on deadlines to have hours submitted and kept Area 3 updated on status of tracking tool issues
  • Followed up on a recommended item from a management review in one of our MUs, and recommended ways FOs can recognize volunteers
  • Gave a presentation at our district conservationists’ (DC) meeting on March 3, 2015, giving Earth Team program updates and highlighting hours we can and cannot count relating to conservation districts’ (CD) annual meetings
  • Clifford Thornton, Assistant State Conservationist for Field Operations (ASTC-FO), presented the National Earth Team Coordinator Award to Joyce Wade at the DC meeting
  • Assisted five new DCs and district mangers with access to the Earth Team site and inputting hours into the system
  • Called and emailed Jan with lots of questions

Area 4—Mechelle Foos

  • Added three new office administrators
  • Worked with two district managers and tracking system access
  • Sent two emails to the area about tracking system problems
  • Sent two email reminders to the area about getting their volunteer hours reported in the tracking system
  • Sent an email letting the area know about the new OF 301a Form
  • Contacted two supervisory district conservationists about meeting with their MUs and filling out their volunteer Needs Assessments
  • Sent ASTC-FO the report of Area 4 volunteer hours
  • Received one request for recognition items
  • Answered several questions about eligible hours and proper codes
  • Notified four offices by email with zero hours about getting hours entered
  • Listened to National Earth Team teleconference on Volunteer Week
  • Received one new volunteer referral for the Manhattan office
  • Left two messages for a new volunteer that had inquired about the program but have not heard back from her
  • Lody Black, state and national individual award winner, was recognized by having an article published in the Kansas Farmer and in the Farm & Ranch supplement of The Salina Journal

State Office/PMC—Diane Edwards

  • Signed up two new volunteers
  • Wrote an article—Benefits of Volunteering—for “Did you Know” sent out to all employees
  • Listened in on quarterly Earth Team teleconference
  • Assisted with gathering some recruitment items for a hiring/career fair for an employee to distribute some Apprentice flyers
  • Answered questions from employees regarding program; referred volunteer to Area 4 coordinator

ET Second Quarter Reports as of March 25, 2015

  • Area 1–318 volunteers, 1355 hours
  • Area 2–203 volunteers, 1444.75 hours
  • Area 3–104 volunteers, 1179.5 hours
  • Area 4–379 Volunteers, 1497.25 hours

Tracking System Issues

  • New issue with “No Activity” for groups. Coordinators will hold off on notifying offices with this issue until the National office adds a trash can icon beside that timesheet.

Major Land Resource Area (MLRA) Offices

National offices requested state input on counting MLRA offices hours at the National level while still utilizing Earth Team support from states. Kansas has MLRA offices in Hays, Garden City, and Salina.

Apprentice Program

Discussed recruiting ideas such as acquiring district manager assistance in passing out information and possibly having each area coordinator on their area recruitment team.

Current Apprentices:

  • Area 1–none
  • Area 2–one potential
  • Area 3–one potential
  • Area 4–none
  • SO–none

National Volunteer Week

Discussed ideas for Kansas to do each day including emailing a PowerPoint of our state award winners, tweets, emailing “Did You Know” on volunteerism, and sending out thank you notes. Ideas for next year include writing short success stories.

2nd Quarter Earth Team Teleconference Notes:

  • Reviewed National Office awards process. We will have all the same categories as last year; however, will be adding Regional awards
  • As of this date, OF 301a Form is not quite approved
  • Alt LincPass was discussed as a possibility for volunteers
  • The committee on “Employees Starting as Volunteers” reported they are in initial stages and will be coming up with a plan to gather data to move forward
  • Reviewed National Volunteer Week
  • The volunteer tracking system has been moved to a different server and issues with functionality are being worked out
  • MLRA offices in tracking system was discussed
  • Adding volunteer photos to our National Office photo gallery was discussed; be sure to get photo releases and follow guidelines

Update from Toni Flax on Earth Team Alumni Collection

Toni is the chairman of the “Employees Starting as Volunteers” committee. Some of the ideas/plans include collecting data first to make them an Earth Team Alumni, look for success stories, host a national VTC celebration, and utilizing these employees as recruitment tools and speakers.

Meeting/Training New Mexico Coordinators

Jan is currently waiting to hear back from the New Mexico office. However, tentative plans include May 6 and 7 in Manhattan or Salina. Jan is updating a PowerPoint for training one day. FO visits such as Clay Center, Minneapolis, or Ellsworth would be scheduled the other day.

Peoples Garden Report

This initiative is still available to offices. Offices can order signs, shirts, seeds, and grow charts.

New Action Items

  • Jan will work with Diane and PMC to get more hours and utilize volunteers
  • Jan will email the graph she uses for quarterly reports
  • Possible ideas for next “Did You Know”—Education/Outreach events, the tracking system, how to archive one-time groups, how offices need to code their hours, or the new Earth Team Volunteer banner stands
  • Jan will talk to Gaye Benfer, Assistant State Conservationist for Management and Strategy, about having each area coordinator on their recruitment team

Action Items Completed:

  • Jan finalized the business plan and it was reviewed; we will meet our National Office goal of each area coordinator visiting 2 MUs to review files and conduct Needs Assessments
  • Jan developed a state bulletin to advertise the State Coordinator position

New Business and Questions

  • Reviewed and emailed new OF 301a Form “Volunteer Service Agreement-Natural & Cultural Resources”
  • At this time, the state Earth Team Volunteer Coordinator position will remain with Jan Klaus
  • Reviewed ideas for AO volunteers that do not need background check such as shredding, recycling, organizing store rooms, and washing vehicles
  • Reviewed Bulletin KS260-15-1 for the Photo Release Consent form
  • Area offices conduct administrative reviews that includes reviewing the FOs’ Earth Team Volunteer program and Needs Assessment; those will be passed on to each area coordinator
  • Recognition items available for the Earth Team Volunteers program; Jan has items and several area offices have some items as well
  • Reviewed Earth Team Volunteer banners and the weakest link game that can be used by coordinators or offices

Meeting adjourned at 3 p.m.

The next meeting is scheduled to be held on July 16, 2015, at the NRCS SO conference room at 10 a.m.