Here are a few of the things you’ll want to make sure you have covered for Your State Parks Day 2014. Below the checklist, you’ll find details and tips about each of these items to help along the way.
- We have selected a project or event with our site manager.
- We have plans for food and/or refreshments for our volunteers.
- We have enough volunteer t-shirts or have placed an order for more.
- We have advertised our event on our facebook page or website.
- Our event is posted on gastateparks.org
- We have prepared a press release to submit to our local news outlets promoting the day and/or have requested the event be added in the community section of our local newspaper.
- We have invited partners, local VIPs and community leaders to join us.
Be sure to think about your service project as more than just a way to get something done. This is our biggest, most publicized event of the year. As such, it is a great opportunity to showcase your chapter and the great things you have to offer to prospective volunteers. This year, we will be promoting preservation and conservation as our main themes for Your State Parks Day. Please, try to feature these important components in your efforts.
Take a look at the project you’ve selected and answer the following questions:
- Does our project provide a visible and meaningful opportunity for guests to get involved?
- Do we have opportunities for younger children or for those with differing abilities or skill levels?
- Does our project showcase the importance of Friends in protecting and preserving our site?
You should be able to answer yes to all of the questions above. If you can’t, it doesn’t mean you need to pick a different project. Just have another look. Can you add components for kids? Is there another, smaller project you could add on that is more visible? Could you offer prospective volunteers additional information about your other opportunities during the rest of the year?
Care and Feeding of Volunteers
Volunteers need to feel welcomed and appreciated for their efforts. This doesn’t mean you should lavish them with gifts. However, you do want to make sure they are comfortable while they are with you. Food is great but, at the very least, make sure your volunteers have plenty of access to drinking water. You may want to designate one person in your chapter to just make the rounds every hour or so to check in with your volunteers and make sure they’re having a good time and their needs are met. You want them to feel welcomed and to consider returning to volunteer another time.
Door prizes and giveaways are great tools to help generate interest in your event, excite your volunteers and show your appreciation. You don’t have to break the bank on these. Often, a few select items from your site’s gift shop are perfect.
Also, make sure you have enough t-shirts. Every volunteer gets a t-shirt. If you don’t have enough in stock, be sure to order some more from the State Friends office before August 15 so we can get them to you in time.
Signs and Check-in
Make sure your volunteers know exactly where they are supposed to go and how to check in. You should have volunteer waivers and photo release waivers on hand for volunteers to sign. If not, check the chapter services area of the Friends website to download a waiver and make some copies. If your chapter has a Friends tent from previous years, make sure it is set up and visible. Also, make sure you are capturing contact information from your volunteers so you can thank them after the event and invite them to your next meeting.
Promoting your site for Your State Parks Day is critical to your success. Ensure you are promoting key components of your event along with the fact that admission and parking fees are sponsored by Friends making it a free day for your guests!
If your chapter or site has a Facebook page, make sure to create an event in Facebook and post it to your page. Also, be sure to post teasers ahead of time to help remind your Facebook supporters to keep the day free. The Chapter Services section of the state Friends website has images you can use to help remind folks.
You will also want to make sure your event is posted on several other sites:
- GeorgiaStateParks.org – Check your site’s page and make sure the event is listed. If not, talk with your site manager about getting it posted or contact State Friends and we’ll help with that. This is probably the most important of places to post your event as it will be used in media outreach and it also displays on the State Friends website for your site.
- PublicLandsDay.org – We will be publishing each event on the National Public Lands Day website. If you have completed your site survey, your event will be posted automatically.
Friends will be providing media outreach across the state. However, many news outlets prefer to have local stories, local content and local contacts to publish stories. Consider sending a press release to your local media outlets. You can find a customizable press release in chapter services.
Better still, if you already have media contacts with whom you have worked in the past, reach out to them directly and personally invite them to your event or offer your time for interviews and outreach.
Also, make sure your event is published in the Community Calendar section of your local newspaper. Most newspapers allow a small mention of community events for free. Check with your newspaper to find out their process for submitting events.
Your State Parks Day is a great opportunity to reach out to your community and business leaders. You don’t necessarily need to ask them for support or donations. Just give them a call and invite them to join you. If they come to your event, make sure they are welcomed and thanked for their participation (just like all your volunteers). Also, if you have any elected officials that plan to attend, make sure your site manager is aware.
Your State Parks Day is a great opportunity to get new volunteers and to showcase the importance of preserving and protecting your state park or historic site. Be sure to closely coordinate with your site manager on all your plans and efforts. With a little extra work and good communication, we can make this the best Your State Parks Day ever!
If you have any questions, problems or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact State Friends for help. We are here to support your efforts and to help you meet your goals for the day!