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Sunday, December 7, 2008

What Makes a Great Space Education Center Volunteer

A Great Volunteer
The Space Education Center stands on the foundation of a great staff and outstanding volunteers. We have an outstanding group of young people that volunteer at the Center. Some have asked me what they could do to be even better.
To answer their questions, I want to talk about the characteristics of a great volunteer.
  • A Great Volunteer arrives on time unless he contacts me to tell me he will be late. That can be done with an email or phone call with message left in the urgent box.
  • A Great Volunteer dresses appropriately. He wears the required black or navy blue pants. Some blue jeans are passable but remember - really faded blue eans and blue jeans with any kind of hole are not allowed. If you are in doubt about what pants to wear always go with black / navy blue dress pants. Athletic pants are OK as well as long as the colored strip which usually runs along the leg isn't very pronounced. There is something very impressive about a volunteer walking into the school wearing his Space Center T-shirt and black pants. He looks like he is ready to go to work. His dress tells me that he takes what he does at the Center seriously and would like to get on in the organization. Yes Troops, I notice everything even though I may not say anything. Impressions are sometimes hard things to change. It is always better to set the right impression to start with.
  • A great volunteer comes clean. Not showering for even one day is not acceptable. You are all old enough where showing daily is a must. Remember in today's society you should always be clean and hair washed. Folks, unwashed hair is noticed by everyone.
  • A great volunteer comes willing to take any assignment. Some volunteers come to work saying they will only do one thing or they will only work in one ship. I will try to give volunteers their first choice of ship and assignment but sometimes I can't. I appreciate the volunteer that is willing to tell me what they prefer but add that they are willing to do anything. That `can do' attitude makes a great volunteer.
  • A great volunteer enjoys the customers and is willing to work with them. He enjoys training the crew member and answering questions.
  • A great volunteer does his best to learn and expand his talents at the Space Center.
  • Great volunteers follow directions from their Flight Directors. Some of our volunteers say `yes' to an assignment and then walk away never completing it. Volunteers, the Flight Directors have their favorites. These are people that they trust to follow directions. These are people they know can be trusted with tasks and don't require constant supervision. These are people that are told once to do something and it will be done and done right. Wow....... someone like that is a great volunteer!
  • Great Volunteers understand the atmosphere we try to maintain at the Space Center. Our family friendly atmosphere is central to our role as a educational entertainment site. Our great volunteers watch their language. They are careful not to discuss things that would be inappropriate around other staff and children. They understand that if they hear other volunteers or staff involved in inappropriate talk they walk away and let me know (anonymously if necessary).
  • A great volunteer understands that the Space Center is a social organization. In any social organization people rise to the top while others don't. Those that don't advance usually end up blaming others for their perceived failure. Troops, advancement in any organization requires a few things.
  1. Hard Work with a willing attitude.
  2. A willingness to take the tough assignments. This includes the worst positions in the ships and even the worst cleaning jobs.
  3. Understanding when to talk and when to be quiet and listen. Some of our volunteers jump right into conversations as if they've worked here for years. Old timers don't like that. You should sit and listen. Learn from what you hear and then, when you feel like you have something constructive and worthwhile to say, say it.
  4. Smile and be positive. Positive and cheerful people rise faster in any organization.
  5. Find out who is really in charge and work to become an asset to that person. Look around and see something that really needs to be done but isn't. Do it without being told. That is very impressive.
  6. Look for ways to advance. Look at what others are doing. Jump in and make it known what you want and that you are willing to work hard to get it. The world is full of those that sit on the fence watching others work hard and move ahead. They cry and cry saying that they were never given a chance to succeed. Crying and wailing makes you look like a child. Get off the fence and get your hands dirty. Work and advance. Slack off and fail. It is really that simple.
  7. Let me know who you are. Always come in and report to me when you arrive. Keep doing this until you know I know your name.
  • At the end of every mission ask the Flight Director to comment on your work. Tell them you can take praise and criticism. Then be ready to hear the truth. Sometimes it hurts and that's why most people don't ask that question. Folks that advance don't always do what everyone else does. They want to be noticed. Get noticed by risking a bit of self esteem and pride to find out what you really need to do to be better.
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