Become a BLT Elite Volunteer in 2020!
Have you noticed these vests appearing on trails in Lebanon and around town? They belong to the BLT Elite Volunteers, the first graduates of our new annual program, which started in January 2019.
Thanks to our Elite Volunteers’ energy, ideas, and eagerness to pitch in, Build Lebanon Trails has catapulted to a new level of involvement in our community this year.
What does it take to become an Elite Volunteer? You have to participate in one morning of training when you begin the program, and you have to volunteer at least 20 hours per year. The training occurs once a year, and the next date is Saturday, January 25, 2020, from 9-11:30. After the training, we assign you to a mentor who helps you transition to being a trusted and independent contributor.
What types of things do you do as an EV? We want you to get as much from your volunteer experience as BLT gets from you, so we let you choose your path according to your interests. We don’t give you tasks. Instead, we offer lots of opportunities and areas in which you can contribute. Beyond that, if you have an idea for a project of your own, we’ll help you get it started. For example, maybe you love making and editing videos. We have lots of ideas for topics! Or maybe you dream of learning how to build a website. We’ll train you, and that goes on your resumé for your next job.
We also have special opportunities that pop up that we don’t have time to take on unless an EV is interested. For example, someone in the community approached BLT about putting up bird boxes along the trails that his students were building. Our new EV Dwane took charge of the project, and the story is here.
When you think of BLT, you probably think of trail work and maintenance, and several of our volunteers love to do that. But there’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to make our nonprofit flourish. Here are some examples of areas in which we need to get stuff done and can use help.
The number of participants at our monthly events is growing, and we need organizational help every month.
- Help at the welcome kiosk.
- Lead the walk!
We use whisper devices for most events so everyone can hear what you’re saying.
- Be the trail sweep.
This means bringing up the rear to make sure nobody is left behind to get lost or have a medical emergency.
- Prepare for the event.
For example, for our Paws on the Pavement event, we needed to construct some more dog agility props. EV Darryl to the rescue!
Several of our first group of EVs elected to join the Community Outreach team, and here are some things they are doing or want to get done.
- Attend monthly outreach meetings to plan strategies.
- Participate in social media campaigns.
We could really use your expertise and effort if you’re interested! For example, we don’t have a presence on Twitter or Instagram – yet.
- Represent BLT at community events, usually by manning a booth to talk about BLT and hand out brochures.
- Design paper flyers and other printed materials, such as our trail maps.
We use InDesign and have the Adobe suite of products available, perhaps even a laptop that you can borrow.
- Write press releases about monthly events and other activities.
- Visit local businesses to hand out flyers or talk about sponsorships.
We always need more technical expertise than we have, but we’re also happy to teach you what we know so you can help out. Let’s talk! Here are some ideas.
- Create, edit, and publish videos.
This could be one person or a team.
- Help keep the website up to date.
If you have some basic computer skills, we’ll train you to work on our website.
- Use electronic tools to send out press releases and subscriber news.
We use an online tool called MailChimp.
- Help us administer our Office 365 network.
If you’ve got the skills and the interest, we’ve got the need.
The City of Lebanon owns the trails and does many of the maintenance tasks with equipment suited for the job, but BLT has several “Ground Force” projects, such as the following.
- Water trees in summer.
- Mulch, mow, and weed around trees.
- Keep trails cleared.
EV Janice lives near a trail that gets a lot of debris falling or creeping in, and she has taken on the job of keeping that section of trail clear.
- Fight the war on invasive weeds.
EV Clare has taken on the Sisyphean fight against knotweed at Marks Slough.
- Organize work parties for our yearly trail work event and for groups who offer their services.
Put on your BLT vest and your name badge and walk the trails, representing BLT. Pick up trash, look for potential problems that BLT or the City needs to be notified about, talk to folks and hand out event cards. You’ll be amazed how many people will come up to talk to you when you’ve got your vest on. Thanks to your training, you’ll know how to answer their questions or will know how to get the answer.
Administration and planning
Do you like to be in the driver’s seat? We have a number of areas in which you can affect the direction and success of the organization.
- Write grant proposals
Yeah, we know that’s a specialized skill, but we get more requests for proposals than we can write grants for, so writing or editing proposals would be of huge value.
- Participate in a working subcommittee, including maps and signs, trail research and development, and the Lebanon Trees and Trails Committee.
- Cheadle Lake Run
Held every May, the Cheadle Lake Run and Kids’ Obstacle Dash involves about nine monthly meetings to plan the event, including deciding the run/walk and obstacle course routes, promoting sponsorships, creating the t-shirts and goody bags, coordinating the advertising, updating the website, recruiting service providers and volunteers, and creating registration flyers.
- Organize a sponsorship program
We only solicit sponsorships once a year for the Cheadle Lake Run, but we’re looking for someone to start a year-round program to get more local businesses involved with BLT and find ways to honor our sponsors throughout the year.
- Benches and donors
We help install donor benches, and we still send handwritten thank you’s to major donors. Donors are the lifeblood of any nonprofit, and this area can always use more attention.
- Build relationships with related nonprofit organizations in the area
There are so many ways we can profit from working on projects together. For example, for our annual downtown historical walk coming up, we’re partnering with the Lebanon Downtown Association, City of Lebanon Community Development, and Lebanon Museum.
If you believe Lebanon’s trails are an asset to the community and you want to belong to a group of people dedicated to enhancing that asset, please fill out the EV application form. You must be able to attend the training session on January 25, but after that, your efforts can follow your own schedule. If you have questions before you volunteer, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.