Volunteer Management & Leadership Tip Email Sept 2022

By Dr. Suzanna Windon
August, 2022
volunteer management


Volunteer Management &

Leadership Tip Email

September 2022

Dear Readers,

Many of us see Labor Day in September as the unofficial start of the fall season. Often, September is associated with new beginnings because of the school year, the football season, the harvest season, and more. This issue is devoted to best practices for the community of garden volunteers. Also, in this issue, we will continue sharing habits that can help to feel more successful.

In the September Tip Email issue, we share:

Volunteer Management:

  • Tips on how to train teens to become gardening teachers or volunteers

  • Tips on how to provide technology training for master gardener volunteers


  • Tips on how to lead community garden volunteers

Expert Spotlight

  • Valorie Burton

- Successful Women Think Differently (Cont.)

Upcoming Professional Development Webinars:

We are offering the following leadership webinars for adult audiences. Please follow the links below to register for the online webinars and share with the audience you think might be interested:

Hiring and Retention: Building and Preserving Team Trust - October 17, 2022, at 12 PM

Hiring and Retention: Culture and Negotiating across Diversity - October 31, 2022, and December 19, 2022, at 12 PM

Hiring and Retention: Empowering Workers and Reducing Stress - November 14, 2022, at 12 PM

Hiring and Retention: Onboarding and Mentoring Employees - December 5, 2022, at 12 PM

Please feel free to use materials and resources by copying and pasting them into your Extension teaching materials as needed.

NEWS- You can find all previous Extension articles related to leadership and volunteer management HERE

Please review our latest Extension articles by following the links below:

See our peer-review publications below:

Please see all previous Volunteer Management & Leadership Tip Email and Research in Brief issues - HERE

Please let us know if you have any questions about the content or want to see more in-depth information, or share some valuable resources. I welcome your insights and feedback. Happy reading!

Best Regards,


Suzanna Windon, Ph.D.


Volunteer Management

Source: Windon, S.

Teen Volunteers as Gardening Teachers

School gardens can go under-resourced and fall as administrators struggle to bring in curriculum and educators to help young children learn the value of healthy living (Bolshakova et al., 2018). By recruiting and training teens as gardening teachers and volunteers, school gardens in a 4-H Healthy Living Ambassador program in California found they could reach younger students and promote physical activity and garden-based nutrition through previously unused local elementary school garden beds. These teen volunteers brought culturally relevant afterschool education support and helped to create a sustainable community health program that grew in surrounding areas.
Lessons learned from the 4-H Healthy Living Ambassador program:

  • Leave time and space for strategic planning with multidisciplinary partners and stakeholders (including teen ambassadors).

  • Consider incorporating the 10 “Teens as Teacher Essential Elements.”

  • Create a logic model to communicate how the teens as teachers in the garden program contribute to the community.

  • Include cultural competency elements in teen training.

  • Build support to address home care responsibilities, language, and transportation barriers.


Bolshakova, V. L. J., Gieng, J., C, S. S., Vollinger, M., Gimeno, L., & Guild, J. (2018). Teens as teachers in the garden: Cultivating a sustainable model for teaching healthy living. Journal of Youth Development, 13(3), 111-135. https://doi.org/10.5195/jyd.2018.621

Source: Windon, S.

Technology Training for Master Gardener Volunteers

The need for varied training options for Extension volunteers has grown, with generational expectations and post-pandemic work/life structure pushing for more online options for volunteers. A recent study of master gardener volunteers in Georgia found that barriers to online training were not related to familiarity, comfort, or use of technology applications (Dorn & Hobbs, 2021). However, researchers found perceived challenges in those less familiar with technology, mainly in the 12% of volunteers born between 1925 and 1942, despite reporting that all volunteers in this generation had access to a personal device and private internet. Extension professionals developing Master Gardener online training for a range of volunteer ages and technology experiences can consider the following strategies:

  • Design training with smartphones and tablet devices in mind.

  • Have a low-tech option for those with dial-up and poor connection.

  • Keep contact info updated to ensure training invites are received.

  • Incorporate technology training in orientation for those without strong or positive experiences.


Dorn, S., & Hobbs, K. G. (2021). Debunking the Myth That Technology Is a Barrier for Volunteer Training Delivery. The Journal of Extension, 58(1), Article 14. https://tigerprints.clemson.edu/joe/vol58/iss1/14


Source: Windon, S.

Leading Community Garden Volunteers

A leader’s characteristics shape community garden operations and experiences for volunteers, and many community gardens in rural settings do not receive help from a consistent supply of student and faculty volunteers (Gilbert et al., 2020). Results of a 2020 study in rural community gardens showed those directive leaders who focused on produce yield as the primary goal often viewed volunteers who were older or had disabilities as the recipients of produce, while collaborative leaders who emphasized benefits of community cohesion and connectedness tended to see intergenerational collaboration as an important goal. Leaders of community garden projects can consider the following in their approach to ensure the sustainability and long-term success of garden projects:

  • Acknowledge their unique community’s goals and structure in leading volunteers.

  • Prevent burnout of young volunteers and integrate learning opportunities from older volunteers.

  • Possess both an openness to new ideas and organizational skills to support new or apprehensive volunteers.


Gilbert, J., Chauvenet, C., Sheppard, B., & De Marco, M. (2020). "Don’t Just Come for Yourself": Understanding Leadership Approaches and Volunteer Engagement in Community Gardens. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 9(4), 259–273. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2020.094.019


Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/microphone-music-studio-1003561/ is in
the Public Domain on Pixabay.com downloaded - 02.15.20

Successful Women Think Differently (Cont.)

Valorie Burton

It has been a joy to read Valorie Burton’s book and share with you the habits that make women happier, healthier, and more resilient. Many of us have a mentor in our lives, but how often do we ask profound questions? Valorie Burton recommended asking the five following questions to your mentor, whose experience could prove invaluable to you.

  1. What is the best decision you have ever made?

  2. What is the worst decision you have ever made?

  3. If there was one thing you wish you would have known when you started, what would it be?

  4. What do you do when you face a setback or disappointment?

  5. What is the wisest step you think I could take in my career right now?


Burton, V (2012). Successful Women Think Differently, Harvest House Publisher, Eugene, Oregon

This Month’s Words to Ponder

An undying spirit is the primary source of help because it is within you

— Fridah Githuku.

Source: https://www.maxpixels.net/Thank-You-Pot-Thank-You-Card-Plant-Modern-Table-3690116 is in the Public Domain on MaxPixsel

Thanks for reading! Be on the look out for next month’s volunteer management & leadership tips!

volunteer management