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Quarterly Earth Team Volunteer Coordinator’s Meeting Minutes—July 16, 2015

The Earth Team Volunteer Coordinators’ teleconference was held on July 16, 2015.

Attendees were as follows

  • State Volunteer Coordinator–Jan Klaus
  • Area Volunteer Coordinators
    • Toni Flax (Area 1)
    • Mike Van Wyk (Area 3)
    • Mechelle Foos (Area 4)

Leslie Spikes (Area 2) and Diane Edwards (State Office (SO) and Plant Materials Center [PMC] were unable to attend.

The meeting was called to order at 10:13 a.m.

Jan welcomed everyone, and the minutes of the previous meeting were reviewed. Jan led discussion on follow-up of the action items and other updates since the previous meeting.

  • The “trash can feature” in the tracking system is now available, so offices may run “no activity” reports and correct errors.
  • National awards process will keep all the awards except the coordinator award, but they plan to have some other way to award exceptional coordinators.
  • OF-301a is not yet on eForms but can be found on the Kansas NRCS site.
  • Alt Linc will no longer happen, and ET volunteers will continue to be required to have LincPass for computer access.
  • The tracking system has been migrated to the new server, and they are expecting major changes to the system in the not too distant future.
  • Major Land Resources Area (MLRA) offices have not yet been added to the tracking system. Discussion was made on how soil offices may be able to obtain volunteer hours.
  • Jan will touch base with Diane to get additional hours reported for the SO and PMC.
  • Jan will email her quarterly graphs to the area coordinators
  • All area coordinators are now on their respective recruitment teams

3rd Quarter National ET Teleconference Notes

Discussed notes from the National teleconference on May 14, 2015. Discussion highlights included:

  • National Volunteer Week was a success in Kansas. We provided information to offices every day.
  • Assistance is available from the National Office to get background checks completed for those volunteers needing them.
  • The National Office has concerns about the percentage of referred volunteers. Kansas coordinators questioned the percentage of individuals signing up but ultimately not wanting to volunteer on weekdays.
  • Changes are being made to the tracking system to update the look and format. Jan will keep everyone updated on this progress.
  • National Office requested states to send in volunteer success stories. Kansas will work on this.
  • ET awards policy has been drafted along with a new nomination form. If this policy is not in place by nominations time, we will continue to use the current policy.
  • Next National ET Teleconference is scheduled for August 20.

State Coordinator’s Report

Jan Klaus—State ET Coordinator

  • Reviewed April meeting minutes and submitted to the SO for publishing to the Web site
  • Shared National Volunteer Week information from other states with coordinators during National Volunteer Week
  • Prepared emails to send out during National Volunteer Week
    • Meet your ET Volunteer Coordinators
    • Meet your 2014 ET award winners
    • Volunteering and its Surprising Benefits
    • New ET Banner Stand
  • Worked with Debbie Newton and Diane Edwards to post 2014 award winners to the Kansas Web site
  • Prepared the 2nd quarter “Did You Know” for emailing out to all offices
  • Worked with Debbie Newton and Diane Edwards to post the new ET Volunteer Service Agreement and guide to the Kansas Web site
  • Reported numerous problems with the tracking system to Bonnie Alley and Michele and relayed the information to the coordinators to pass on to all offices
  • Along with the area volunteer coordinators, training was coordinated and carried out for the New Mexico State Volunteer coordinator on May 6 and 7
  • Along with Bonnie Alley, spoke to the management team in Salina on May 7
  • Follow up information was sent to the New Mexico State Volunteer Coordinator for her use
  • Prepared the 2015 Earth Team Awards Nomination bulletin and templates for posting
  • Communicated with Bonnie Alley on a Pizz-a-Thon workshop idea that is currently in the planning stages
  • Prepared the 2nd quarter reports and set agenda for the 3rd quarter Earth Team coordinators’ meeting.
  • Answered questions and requests from coordinators and the National Volunteer Office on an as-needed basis.

Toni Flax—Area 1 ET Coordinator Report

  • Attended 2nd quarter meeting
  • Ran hour reports and emailed to all offices, also requested that supervisory district conservationists (SDCs) get back to me with who currently inputs their ET hours
  • Ran “No Activity Reports” and emailed it to offices, along with instructions on how to find and fix minor issues; I also helped the offices that requested assistance to find those hours
  • Emailed a reminder to archive old volunteers and one-time groups and attached the latest version of the “Volunteer Tracking Instructions Guide” from the SharePoint site
  • Held the monthly teleconference for the National Committee, Volunteer 2 Employee (V2E)
    • Sent out invite to get more people to help us out
    • Sent out May Teleconference invite and the draft plan proposal for review
  • Helped with training for New Mexico State Coordinator
  • Maternity Leave
  • Ran “No Activity” reports again to make sure completed; still have 2 counties with issues; emailed them to let me know when complete
  • Ran hour reports, emailed DCs and SDCs who still are under the 60 hour mark
  • Changed password on new website
  • Helped Nathella change her password
  • Reviewed reports for award nomination possibilities
  • Teleconference with Dorlene on V2E committee status and how to move forward

Mike Van Wyk—Area 3 ET Coordinator

  • Met with Theresa Bennett, New Mexico State ET Coordinator, to conduct training and toured Clay Center and Abilene FOs for input and ideas on improving the program in New Mexico
  • Worked with several employees to get their password changed for the new tracking tool site
  • Developed a reference guide for accessing the new tracking tool Web site and getting passwords updated
  • Sent “Did You Know” and tracking tool updates to Area 3 offices
  • Made contacts with offices showing no reported hours and solicited offices to enter 3rd quarter ET hours
  • Worked with offices showing reported hours with no activity code
  • Verified hours for timesheets not validated

Mechelle Foos—Area 4 ET Coordinator

  • Added two new office administrators
  • Completed the Lawrence Management Unit (MU) volunteer Needs Assessment
  • Reviewed volunteer files in Lawrence, Topeka, and Lyndon
  • Provided information about the Lawrence MU ET program to the AO for the administrative review
  • Two new apprentices have started in Oskaloosa and Ellsworth
  • Assisted with getting proper forms filled out for new apprentices
  • Email sent to area promoting volunteer week
  • Set up new volunteer banner stand in my office for volunteer week
  • Assisted with New Mexico State ET Coordinator training by participating in the overview of Kansas activities and visiting two FOs
  • Email sent to area about the tracking system Web site, resetting passwords, and getting hours entered for the quarter
  • Sent five individual emails to counties with less than 60 hours
  • Sent several emails to counties that had tracking system errors
  • Contacted one SDC about meeting with the MU and filling out their volunteer needs assessment
  • Sent the assistant state conservationist for field operations the Area 4 report of volunteer hours.
  • Answered several questions about eligible hours and proper codes
  • Spoke about apprentice program to Environthon students

Diane Edwards—State Office/Plant Materials Center

  • We signed up three new volunteers
  • Provided ET brochures and other informational material to employees attending a Future Farmers of America Career Fair
  • Helped ensure the ET awards bulletin was ready for publishing
  • Answered questions from several employees about the ET program this quarter due to summer break and interest from outside—students, employees’ kids, others

Volunteer to Employee Committee Update

Toni provided an update on the V2E Committees progress:

  • The committee is working on developing a mass email questionnaire, which will develop a list of emails addresses for those employees that started as a volunteer
  • Recognition may include a certificate of appreciation signed by the Chief and a lapel pin
  • A proposed operating process has been drafted for carrying out the committee’s plan

Wrap up on visit with New Mexico State Coordinator

  • Discussed morning presentation of materials; National Office was pleased with the information presented by Kansas
  • Discussed office tours to the Clay Center and Abilene field offices; Mechelle and Mike thought good information and ideas were gleaned from the FO staffs

Fiscal Year 2015 Third Quarter Reports for the State and Areas

  • Reviewed report of hours for all AOs and the SO
  • Looked at offices showing zero hours and those with less than 60 hours; area coordinators will work with these offices to ensure hours get reported

2015 Award Templates/Nominations

  • Nominee templates will be provided to FOs through Bulletin KS360-15-12
  • Area coordinators will draft write-ups for nominees from information provided on the templates
  • Discussed looking at hours of groups and individuals in each area to come up with ideas for nominees
  • Established deadlines for award nominations:
    • September 17–bring templates to the next ET coordinators’ meeting
    • October 2–have write-ups finalized
    • Week of October 12–planned judging at the state level
    • October 31–nominations are to be submitted to the national office

2015 Timeline and Idea Sharing

  • Discussed state ET coordinator position and options for transition following Jan’s retirement

Review of ET Business Plan

Reviewed ongoing goals and objectives for the current fiscal year:

  • Discussed need to review six offices in fiscal year (FY) 2015; coordinators provided updates on their progress
  • Discussed the possibility of having tracking system training following the completion of the pending changes to the system
  • Discussed completion of needs assessments and progress thus far
  • Discussed ET outreach at DC meetings for the year
  • Identified the need for additional success stories and news articles

Tracking System

  • Jan demonstrated how to change a password as an administrator, avoiding the need to go through the users email
  • Further discussed the upcoming changes to the tracking tool and planned training sessions; may have trainings at the area level for NRCS and district staff

E-Filing Earth Team Folders

Reviewed Policy on E-Filing and cleared up confusion:

  • Documents with original signatures need to be kept as hard copies, including applications and parental consent
  • E-filing should be on the MU server and filed appropriately according to the records guide

Next “Did You Know”

Ideas for the next did you know were discussed and the following topics were generated:

  • Local Work Group Meetings and County Fairs–Reference the July 2013, “Did You Know”
  • Make offices aware of the banner stand availability
  • Information on e-filing–Toni will work on this
  • Apprentice program information, or link to the information on the Kansas Web site
  • Conservation education information

Volunteer Showcase Story

It was decided to wait until the new nominations come in to develop the next volunteer showcase story

Pizz-a-thon Project

  • Jan provided a hand out and overview of the Pizz-a-thon Project to help kids understand where their food comes from and provide education in business, economics, career exploration, and conservation.
  • Kansas has been asked to sit in on a VTC to learn more about it and the possibility of bringing the workshop here
  • VTC is planned in Manhattan on August 13, 2015, at 1 p.m.
  • Jan will provide additional information as it comes in and invited all coordinators to attend the VTC

Questions and New Business

  • The dollar value of volunteer time has increased from $22.55 per hour to $23.07 per hour
  • There was a question on the Apprentice Form from the 2008 Farm Bill—it is still valid at this time
  • Next meeting is planned for September 17, 2015

Meeting Adjourned at 3:08 p.m