Suggestions and questions on volunteering


September 06, 2020, 05:17 PM

I love what you guys and gals all do and I very much appreciate it with the trails you have helped to create, maintain and the organization of this group.
I am always impressed every time I go riding on a CORP trail which is the majority of my MTB rides.
(Only other ones is the E.Side Burdocks and Kettle Moraine SP.)
And so I feel inspired to pay it back by volunteering at any of the CORP trails I ride.
(PV, X-Plains, Cam, Shehan and Seminole.)

Since I am now wanting to help out do I look for those opportunities under the specific trails?
If that is the case then I could do that though I think it would be more helpful to have them under this heading so that I or we don't have to be searching for it.
Under the link of "Volunteer Opportunities" it does read, " Requests for trail help..." so I'm a bit confused why I don't see that here.
Where do I go looking for "Trail help" if it is not posted here?

Also, there does not seem to be just one system for volunteer calls.
One link looking for help under PV takes me to another section of the Forum where times to help are posted while a link asking for help under X-Plains from the "Trails" link, and not "Forum," takes me to a FB page and I'm not sure how to suggest to volunteer since I do not see recent dates and times listed as I do for PV.  :-\
So if there could be one agreed upon system, if there is not already, on how to find the places and times to volunteer to make it less confusing that would be helpful.
Or do I just need to get used to how it is already set up?

My other suggestion would be an incentive to get volunteers who are anywhere from a beginner to intermediate level such as myself.   
For example: There are two obstacles I am not sure how to ride through or over on the advance trail at Seminole.
If I worked with someone who knows these and he or she can coach me on how to ride them when we were done working then I would feel more inclined to help out and that could apply to others.
Not that I wouldn't help if that didn't happen. I am looking for some help to improve my riding skills and thought I would see if this is one way to do that.
(Every time I check the Ninja courses they are always booked and that is way more than I want to spend.)
Besides Ninja, is there any free or lower cost coaching that is being thought of or ever offered through CORP?
I suppose I could always ask those I am working with, "Hey, can you show me how to do that jump when we are done?" and maybe they could.

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« Last Edit: September 06, 2020, 05:39 PM by RedStrong »

XXX
augs
President
Board Member

September 08, 2020, 06:58 PM

All good questions.  We don't have a great system for linking volunteers to tasks in the field.  All of the trail stewards have different schedules and work styles, so each trail system  ends up running a little bit differently.  In normal years, we have a large workday at each trail system, which is a good way to get your foot in the door, but even that doesn't work perfectly (it's hard to make a connection with the trail steward when s/he is directing 20 other people as well), but those were out this year, along with all of our other events so far this year.  There is some talk of putting together some events this fall that could link willing volunteers to leaders, hopefully we can make those happen.

Some trail systems have trail work discussions in the forum, as you found, and following those is a good way to figure out who is who, and sometimes when they will be out working and you can help and get introduced.  Then there are various FB pages, Google Groups, email chains, etc.  It's a mess, but efforts to clean it up have been an uphill battle that usual falls victim to inertia and limited time.  So, unfortunately, the best advice I can give you is to be persistent.  Emailing stewards directly through the  contacts page is a start.  It seems like an offer to help would be jumped at, and it should be, but given the complexities of everyones lives (jobs, families, riding, etc.), sometimes that doesn't happen.  So follow up if you don't hear anything, and shoot me a message if that doesn't work.  Once you've met and got the confidence of the steward, there is quite a bit you can do on your own, so it's really the initial hump you need to get over.

You're right, we should have a permanent post in this Forum section linking to ways to get more involved, I'll see if we can't put that together.

I believe you are onto something with your last paragraph.  We used to do 'work and ride' sessions at PV, and what you are describing is what they amounted to.  It would be good to get those going, maybe a couple times a year at different trails.  You do a little maintenance, then mess around on bikes. 

A side note:  This year one of my goals was to have more small, informal events to build community and give riders more connection to the trails, other riders, and the folks who take care of them, but Covid prevented that.  Hopefully next year we can do that, and turn the growth in the number of riders we saw into a more connected community.  Riders like you are vital to keeping what we've got going, and we need to figure out how to make it easy for you to get involved


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XXX

September 09, 2020, 04:41 PM

RedStrong, you alluded to probably the biggest reason I haven't done any trail work yet - there's no centralized place of connecting with the work that needs to be done. I think it would be perfect to have something like an official "Madison Area Mountain Bike Trailwork" facebook page that can create weekly / monthly / annual / whatever events and post about it to send people those sweet push notifications for the work and get it on our calendars. If something like that already exists, it's been a challenge to find.

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XXX
imwjl
Pleasant View Trail Steward

September 10, 2020, 09:39 AM

RedStrong, you alluded to probably the biggest reason I haven't done any trail work yet - there's no centralized place of connecting with the work that needs to be done. I think it would be perfect to have something like an official "Madison Area Mountain Bike Trailwork" facebook page that can create weekly / monthly / annual / whatever events and post about it to send people those sweet push notifications for the work and get it on our calendars. If something like that already exists, it's been a challenge to find.

Many but not everyone uses Facebook. Content posted here can be linked to or copied to other systems such as Facebook and email. I recall a volunteer who is in law enforcement say he'll never do or expose his name in Facebook but he's fine with this forum. Some just don't do social media for other reasons.

The infrastructure for good tasking or project management is present. Pres Jon said in another post that adoption is the challenge. The current and past tech team folks who all still associate do professional or enterprise IT, project and programming admin in their day jobs. The challenge is this is a volunteer organization. It's not like the day jobs most of us have where one can be disciplined or dismissed and at times easily replaced over not dealing with change.

Volunteer organization management is often using and pulling heavy and large objects with wet noodles. Having been on the CORP board, and being on another I know it's hard to get people to fill the positions and keep at them because it's real work.

In another post Randy described well what he and others do.

The work can be satisfying. I encourage people to do it. I've had a mom in tears say we do one of the most important things in the life of some kids she's helped and her own son. Someone else shared that CORP trails and people are their best medicine for a life dealing with mental illness and obesity. A widow shared that dropping off her kids with the CORP trail stewards became their best slice of getting back to normal.

Trust me, if someone wants to do volunteer work president Jon and the trail stewards will accommodate.

Thanks so much for your interest.

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XXX

September 10, 2020, 02:50 PM

RedStrong, you alluded to probably the biggest reason I haven't done any trail work yet - there's no centralized place of connecting with the work that needs to be done. I think it would be perfect to have something like an official "Madison Area Mountain Bike Trailwork" facebook page that can create weekly / monthly / annual / whatever events and post about it to send people those sweet push notifications for the work and get it on our calendars. If something like that already exists, it's been a challenge to find.

Many but not everyone uses Facebook. Content posted here can be linked to or copied to other systems such as Facebook and email. I recall a volunteer who is in law enforcement say he'll never do or expose his name in Facebook but he's fine with this forum. Some just don't do social media for other reasons.

The infrastructure for good tasking or project management is present. Pres Jon said in another post that adoption is the challenge. The current and past tech team folks who all still associate do professional or enterprise IT, project and programming admin in their day jobs. The challenge is this is a volunteer organization. It's not like the day jobs most of us have where one can be disciplined or dismissed and at times easily replaced over not dealing with change.

Volunteer organization management is often using and pulling heavy and large objects with wet noodles. Having been on the CORP board, and being on another I know it's hard to get people to fill the positions and keep at them because it's real work.

OK but I still don't understand what is so difficult at asking or getting the stewards to post work times in this section of the forum.
I dunno how often there is turnover for a new steward.
Whenever there is a new one is it suggested where h/she can post the calls for volunteers or are they all just left on their own to figure it out and that is why it is so scattered?
It seems to me that there could be one agreed upon system but there isn't.
Each steward posts the call wherever they want to and they have their own ways of organizing work days. Something formal such as announcing the day time or just letting them know when you can be there and they will meet you then.
Not criticizing. Just observing and trying to get an understanding of how to find out where to look for work.

Update: Since I have done this post I have been communicating via FB with the steward of X-Plains.
I am hoping to get out there next week for working and riding when it might be drier.

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XXX
imwjl
Pleasant View Trail Steward

September 10, 2020, 08:07 PM

RedStrong, you alluded to probably the biggest reason I haven't done any trail work yet - there's no centralized place of connecting with the work that needs to be done. I think it would be perfect to have something like an official "Madison Area Mountain Bike Trailwork" facebook page that can create weekly / monthly / annual / whatever events and post about it to send people those sweet push notifications for the work and get it on our calendars. If something like that already exists, it's been a challenge to find.

Many but not everyone uses Facebook. Content posted here can be linked to or copied to other systems such as Facebook and email. I recall a volunteer who is in law enforcement say he'll never do or expose his name in Facebook but he's fine with this forum. Some just don't do social media for other reasons.

The infrastructure for good tasking or project management is present. Pres Jon said in another post that adoption is the challenge. The current and past tech team folks who all still associate do professional or enterprise IT, project and programming admin in their day jobs. The challenge is this is a volunteer organization. It's not like the day jobs most of us have where one can be disciplined or dismissed and at times easily replaced over not dealing with change.

Volunteer organization management is often using and pulling heavy and large objects with wet noodles. Having been on the CORP board, and being on another I know it's hard to get people to fill the positions and keep at them because it's real work.

OK but I still don't understand what is so difficult at asking or getting the stewards to post work times in this section of the forum.
I dunno how often there is turnover for a new steward.
Whenever there is a new one is it suggested where h/she can post the calls for volunteers or are they all just left on their own to figure it out and that is why it is so scattered?
It seems to me that there could be one agreed upon system but there isn't.
Each steward posts the call wherever they want to and they have their own ways of organizing work days. Something formal such as announcing the day time or just letting them know when you can be there and they will meet you then.
Not criticizing. Just observing and trying to get an understanding of how to find out where to look for work.

Update: Since I have done this post I have been communicating via FB with the steward of X-Plains.
I am hoping to get out there next week for working and riding when it might be drier.

Sorry, but maybe you're missing that we do have a formal and consistent way of handling events and calendar. If you go to the events link here you get the calendar info and those events are in social media too. If you want more or bigger events, that's tough or impossible right now. I expect you'll see some fall work days coming.

Thanks much for offering to help!

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XXX
augs
President
Board Member

September 10, 2020, 09:07 PM

Redstrong, it's no trouble asking people to do anything, getting them to do it is a whole other issue.  Know that it's a known problem, and we're working on it.

It's actually great to see a little more traffic on the forum lately.  We have been discussing this issue on and off for years, and I've argued that if we can get to a critical mass of meaningful discussion here, interested people will want to pay more attention rather than miss something important.  In CORP's early days, before there were so many options, almost all discussion happened here, and it was a great way to hang out in the shadows and get a feel for things and finding a place to jump in.   Keep it up, and let's try to make it that again.

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XXX
nor
Assistant Trail Steward - Cross Plains

September 11, 2020, 10:32 AM

I think this year has been a challenge for everyone trying to keep up on maintenance and building new trail. We havent been allowed to have large group workdays. Typically in Cross Plains we send out emails to folks who are are on our list for work days, as well as post here and use facebook events. Due to Covid I have been busy trying to keep up with work on the trail and use Facebook and  the madcitydirt conditions page to ask for help since its easy. I know thats not the best but thats what I got. Keep staying involved RedStrong and I guarantee we will put you to work :) 


~ crushing it


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XXX

September 14, 2020, 10:03 AM

If you go to the events link here you get the calendar info and those events are in social media too
Maybe I'm missing something, but I see no work days on the events page?

Nor / Redstrong - Can you send me the details about the Xplains work? I have never actually gotten to those trails yet so I think it'd be a fun way to get familiar

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XXX
imwjl
Pleasant View Trail Steward

September 14, 2020, 01:15 PM

If you go to the events link here you get the calendar info and those events are in social media too
Maybe I'm missing something, but I see no work days on the events page?

Nor / Redstrong - Can you send me the details about the Xplains work? I have never actually gotten to those trails yet so I think it'd be a fun way to get familiar

There might not be official events at the moment but they are posted. I believe others have said how it is challenging to have events now, and as volunteers we have limited time but we do our best.

Randy and I worked at Pleasant View yesterday but it was a challenge for both of us to set a time. I was afraid to make a public post for people new to this when I had no idea I could reliably meet at a particular time.

Please trust me that I do my  best to meet people interested in working.

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XXX

September 16, 2020, 04:13 PM

Redstrong, it's no trouble asking people to do anything, getting them to do it is a whole other issue.  Know that it's a known problem, and we're working on it.

I dunno how desperate ya all might be at keeping volunteers and finding new members.
Here are a couple ideas to run by ya:

Have you guys and gals thought of incentives?
I see that you have giveaways.
Can you do something similar for volunteers and donors?
Maybe like a 10% off coupon for a one time purchase at a bike store for someone who volunteers X amount of times that could be logged.

I dunno if they still do it but organizations would give you things based the size of your donation.
$10 would get you a tote bag.
$25 a T-shirt
Etc etc.
Is Corp able to do something similar if you are not already?

Earlier we discussed a trade off of coaching help for riding on obstacles.
I think it would be great if you did that.

Once someone volunteers are they put on a list then contacted for an upcoming work date?
Or why not send out an email to everyone here on the forum and members with the place and times listed?
You could ask folks to be put on a list and if it's OK to contact them with that info.

I understand that everyone is going to have different schedules and priorities come up and there is also the weather, like last week,(9/6-12/20)  that kept us off the trails.
So do you be informal and flexible such as, "Let us know when you can help," or set something up with dates and times or find a balance between the two?
I get the sense that you don't want to be too pushy and you also don't want to be too flaky. Something in between I guess. 
   

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XXX

September 16, 2020, 04:21 PM

If you go to the events link here you get the calendar info and those events are in social media too
Maybe I'm missing something, but I see no work days on the events page?

Nor / Redstrong - Can you send me the details about the Xplains work? I have never actually gotten to those trails yet so I think it'd be a fun way to get familiar
Hey corkr,
I just got a response from the steward.
Someone else finished it.
But he says they plan to have a work day this fall and will post dates and times here on the forum and on their FB page.
https://www.facebook.com/CrossPlainsMTB

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