There are the convention hosts, who organize the details of the hotel, meals, and room logistics. They also have to secure donations to keep the cost of the event at a reasonable level for the youth that attend. It is a commitment that endures for over a year with all the planning. Their ability to stay on task and have attention to detail is key to a successful event.
Then, there are the parents and other adults who take time away from their jobs or farms for the weekend (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) to transport the youth to the convention location and chaperone their young members – making sure they are on time to their speech, ensuring their art projects get delivered to the right room, and coaching a dairy jeopardy contestant or a dairy bowl team. Their commitment may be just three days if they are simply transportation for the children, but for many of them, it is a year round investment in time.
As the hours of the convention go on, these volunteers are looking forward to the conclusion of the event. They have been on their feet for three days going from meetings to banquets, to the pool while following their very enthusiastic juniors. They may be tired, but their investment in the young people is well worth it.
The cheeriest of volunteers I encountered was, Abby Meyer, an 8-year-old that served as a “runner” for the dairy bowl contest. Abby’s task was to carry a flag (and hold it high) so the team members she was leading to their contest room could easily see and follow her to their competition room.
She had a smile on her face, held her flag high, and walked with purpose. She was assigned a job, and by golly, she was doing it the very best she could. I asked her how old she was. She turned around and said, “Eight” with a smile and resumed her swift pace to the room. Once in the room, she knew exactly what to do and when she needed to get the other team.
She was such a bright light in a busy day with 60 teams competing in multiple dairy bowl rooms around the convention center.
Why was she so special?
1. She was a genuinely happy person. She liked what she was doing. Her smile told me that.
2. She was told what her responsibilities were, she understood, and she completed her assignment with enthusiasm.
How often as volunteers do we become frustrated when we are not given clear instructions when some one asks for our help? Or gives you a task that is not in your wheelhouse and a different assignment would be a better use of your skills? Things can be delayed, not completed efficiently, or not completed to the leaders liking when expectations are not laid out clearly in the beginning.
So, if you are in charge of volunteers or are the volunteer, remember the happy volunteer. She brightened my day.
The author is the online media manager and is responsible for the website, webinars, and social media. A graduate of Modesto Junior College and Fresno State, she was raised on a California dairy and frequently blogs on youth programs and consumer issues.