Volunteering ~ part of Blog Action Day!
A great deal of discussion has been centered around agility trial volunteers – or lack thereof – of late on the Yahoo!Groups in agility. The Agility Nerd asked those of us with dog blogs to take part in a Blog Action Day. I wanted to weigh in with my, admittedly slightly rambling, thoughts on agility trial volunteering, and how it applies to agility in general.
Much of the controversy could be negated, I think, if the venue hosting the trial ensured the volunteers felt valued. At the trials I have attended as a 4-Her, I was fortunate enough to be treated wonderfully as a volunteer! (I didn’t do much, but I tried.) I can’t imagine how I would feel if someone belittled my efforts to help. Before you snap at a volunteer, or anyone, stop and think of why you’re behaving the way you are. Chances are, it isn’t their fault. Even if it is, treat them with respect and courtesy. They’re giving something for, essentially, nothing.
Volunteers DO get some perks though, such as experience in a trial atmosphere (this can really be invaluable for beginners), trial or meal vouchers, etc. It’s a token, and thanks goes a long way to making a volunteer want to come back.
I think especially for beginners it is absolutely vital to keep the volunteer atmosphere welcoming and friendly. Agility forms a wonderful, tight-knit community, but on the flipside of that, it can form nasty cliques. No one goes to agility trials to feel looked down on, and if someone has negative experiences with a trial, they may quit the sport for good – which would be a huge loss!
Don’t treat a person in a way you wouldn’t treat your dog. Be friendly, be positive, be rewarding! Not all rewards are monetary or materialistic. A smile can make someone’s day, a snide comment can break it. If someone doesn’t understand, teach them. Create a community of people who are happy to volunteer in a positive environment, and don’t resort to bullying tactics. No one wants an unhappy worker, or to be one, either.
While volunteers vary in how much time they give, and the work they do, I believe personal taste should be allowed for. Not everyone wants to or can do every job, or can volunteer all day!