Monday, April 14, 2008

Volunteers Respond: Preliminary survey results

Our survey of volunteers is now complete. Thank you to all of you who responded with your comments and insights! There were 157 responses total. Jill Baum and I are sifting through the numbers and written comments, and probably will be doing so for some time. This is a treasure-trove of information that will allow us to identify your greatest concerns and challenges and how to overcome them. It will help us to focus our training efforts this summer. It will help us to determine what's working really well, which we should hang onto, and what's broken and needs fixing.

I'm sure many of you will be interested in seeing the results, too. Here is the first piece: the summary of responses. This contains only the numerical responses. The written commentary is on a separate spreadsheet, which I will post as well as soon as I have a chance to review it and make sure that any potential privacy concerns (e.g. names mentioned) are addressed.

Here are some highlights from the summary:

  • Our responses came from a great cross-section of volunteers, including about equal parts those that volunteered only once, those that volunteered 2-5 times, and those that volunteered 6 or more times last year.

  • 43% of respondents volunteered less than 20 hours last year, while 25% volunteered more than 100 hours. (We appreciate every one of those hours, by the way, even the smaller numbers.)

  • Most volunteers live between 51 and 100 miles from the park. Fully 28% of our volunteers travel more than a hundred miles to get here.

  • 42% of our volunteers camp overnight when they volunteer.

  • 70% would be interested in carpooling or public transportation.

  • The biggest challenge that prevented people from volunteering was schedule conflicts, followed closely in second place by a related concern, lack of time.

  • 96% of our volunteers said they were somewhat or very pleased with their experience.

  • The favorite volunteer task, by far, was trail maintenance, followed by meadow roving and backcountry patrol. (I wonder if this is partly because more people had experience with trail maintenance last year than any other activity?)

  • Summer weekends are the best time for most people to volunteer. However, a healthy percentage look for opportunities during the winter or on weekdays, as well. The same is true for the best times to participate in volunteer training.

  • The most popular training opportunities are plant identification, wilderness first aid, ecology, geology, and meadow restoration, followed by trail maintenance, backcountry travel and safety, map and compass use, interpretive skills, and historic preservation.

  • Good numbers of volunteers made at least occasional use of all of our volunteer resources except our volunteer handbook. I wonder if that's because it's not useful, or because few people have copies of it?

I promise much more feedback as I have more of a chance to sift through your responses and comments!

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