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HOW TO GET AND KEEP VOLUNTEERS

Volunteers are the life-blood of any show. Get them where ever you can! Get the kids that hang around your barn, parents, grandparents, horsy friends, and other local barn affiliates. To help keep them motivated, enthusiastic, and participating for years to come, treat them with appreciation and respect.

Here are some ideas to help you with volunteerism:

1. Define the job for each volunteer and provide him or her with that information well in advance of the show. Match the abilities of the volunteer to the task assigned.

2. Make sure that all volunteers have the equipment needed to do the job.

3. State the times needed for the job and find out the availability of each person. It can be helpful to schedule volunteers to work half the day at one job and half at another. This way no one is standing alone in a field for eight hours.

4. Do not abandon your volunteers. Assign a “hospitality” person to check with volunteers and officials frequently throughout the day to see if they need to take a break for personal needs, would like something to eat or drink, or if they have any questions or concerns.

5. Let all volunteers know whom to contact with questions or in case of emergency.

6. If possible, provide your volunteers with a free lunch, or free drinks at the very least. Water or a beverage with electrolytes is preferable to sugared or carbonated beverages for preventing dehydration.

7. Advise your volunteers to wear comfortable clothing and shoes but dress according to the job--nicely for those in the public eye, casually for those doing manual labor. Warn them to be prepared to get dirty. Suggest they bring a change of clothes or accessories according to weather forecast: sunscreen, gloves, and sunglasses or hats, gloves and layers.

8. Find out in advance if your volunteers have any allergies (e.g., bee stings or other allergies) or time constraints.

9. Reward your volunteers by offering ribbons, t-shirts, or a token gift as a show of appreciation.

10. Get their input after the event. Perhaps they have a suggestion for the next show that might be valuable. Positive and negative feedback are both important.

Make use of a Volunteer sign up sheet.

This will help you determine all the jobs that will need to be done. Check off those jobs for which you have assigned someone specific. It is also helpful to indicate how many volunteers for each job are needed and fill in the space provided. Ask what special talents your volunteers have and you may end up identifying someone who will be perfect for another job! Make sure to offer people a second option.

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