One of my favorite parts of being a Regional Coordinator is working with the members and hearing their stories. Whether we talk about their successes and challenges as a VMC or just discuss a topic they feel passionate about, I must say that listening and learning are two important things I love to do.
Today I am visiting Matt, a VMC who works at the Nanticoke Watershed Alliance (NWA) in Vienna (located on the Eastern Shore of Maryland). I am really looking forward to seeing him and hearing more about what he has been working on. Environmental stewardship and community consensus-building represent the key mission of the NWA. Community members, industry, environmental and citizen groups, government agencies, academicians, watermen, and farmers are brought together by the NWA for collaboration in environmentally focused research and awareness. This watershed includes 725,000 acres of land that covers counties in both Maryland and Delaware. By the way, did you know that the Nanticoke watershed is home to over 250 endangered plant and animal species, including the largest bald eagle population in the Northeast?
Matt is responsible for helping to oversee and enhance various volunteer programs. His primary focus as a VMC is with the Creekwatchers Water Monitoring Program. This volunteer program trains community members to measure the water quality of various sections of the Nanticoke River in an effort to monitor the health of the river. Since 2007 this program has engaged at least 40 individuals who are passionate about preserving the state of their local environment. Matt also dedicates his time to other projects such as a land use planning initiative (the Green Infrastructure), restoration and cleanup events, and plans for creating a rain garden with community members.
While I am not very knowledgeable about environmental topics, I do know a thing or two about resources that can assist in the management of such volunteer programs. Today I am going to be introducing Matt to Google Documents, an incredible online resource that will hopefully ease and add to his communication style with his volunteers. I love Google in general, but I especially appreciate this application. It is not only free but user-friendly and versatile.
When I was a VMC I used the Form feature under this application. It proved to be a very useful tool for gathering information quickly and neatly. You can easily create a custom-made form where all the data entered is sent to a spreadsheet stored in your Google account. Here is an example of a form I used last year to evaluate the outreach experiences of my volunteers. If you haven’t experienced Google Docs for yourself, check it out here.
Have you had any luck with Google Docs or any other Google applications? Know of any other similar, online tools that have worked well for you? Please let me know what you think!
Catch all of you another time when I’m back from the lovely Eastern Shore. 🙂