Earth Team Volunteer Program Featured Volunteer Vignette - Jackie Hastings
Earth Team Volunteer Program: Featured Earth Team Volunteer Vignettes - Jackie Hastings
Featured Volunteer Coordinator: Jackie Hastings
Location: Dallas, Oregon
Volunteer Job Title: District Manager/Volunteer Coordinator
Jackie Hastings presents first aid training to Dallas Service Center staff.
Try Walking in Her Shoes
The Oregon Polk Soil and Water Conservation District’s volunteer program has become so successful that groups and individuals are contacting the Polk SWCD to become a part of an incredible program. Jackie Hastings, the District Manager’s theory is that you can never have too many volunteers. Thus, Jackie has accepted the collateral duty as Volunteer Coordinator for Polk SWCD and the Dallas, Oregon Ag Service Center.
Jackie’s theory has been put to the test over the last few years, and the Dallas Service Center was able to prove that it is true. There have been more than 465 different volunteers, who donated more than 19,330 hours for projects that benefited not only the Dallas office, but all the residents of Polk County. These volunteers have accomplished a wide variety of tasks that have resulted in reducing the workload for NRCS, FSA, and Polk SWCD staff, reducing project costs, making the implementation and completion of several projects possible, and furthering the mission of the NRCS. As a result of Jackie’s progressive ideas in recruiting volunteers, the Dallas office has experienced an increase in productivity with the help of volunteers. They have assisted in the conservation, maintenance, and improvement of natural resources and the environment in their area. All volunteers get a chance to try different projects and work with all the staff at the Dallas office. Jackie’s volunteer program has become so successful that it is not hard to recruit volunteers—as stated previously, they now come to her. She is always willing to find new projects and has the ability to think outside the box.
Volunteers have made many projects and programs not only a possibility, but a huge success. Resource education programs in Polk County had all but disappeared over the years due to budget and staffing cuts. Jackie saw an opportunity for the Dallas USDA to reach the youth and teach them hands on about natural resources. Now 5 week-long “Nature’s Great Adventure Outdoor School” is now offered to all sixth graders in Polk County. All of this is due to Jackie’s ability to recruit volunteers to assist in this successful project.
The Juvenile Workforce Crew joined with the Polk SWCD to provide additional assistance to landowners and help on projects that needed more physical labor. The juvenile crews have put in innumerable volunteer hours pulling weeds, building and removing fence, planting, and numerous other projects. This crew worked on Small Grants, EQIP, CREP, and many restoration projects. Jackie works directly with landowners setting up projects, and works also with the supervisor of the crews. This arrangement has benefited many.
In addition to this, the field office has high school interns, college interns, watershed councils, Friends of Delbert Hunter Arboretum group and SWCD directors as volunteers. Jackie meets with the office staff and has them do a Needs Assessment every quarter. She then uses this information to have volunteers work on specialized projects including improving GIS applications, fisheries studies, web page management, brochure and flier publications mailings, developing information documents, inventorying of invasive weeds, office organization stream clean ups, pruning, watering, and many other activities.
In addition to the challenge of managing and coordinating over 460 volunteers for normal district and NRCS activities, Jackie has also taken on the challenge of managing special needs volunteers. This includes a visually impaired volunteer and a mentally disabled volunteer. The office also has volunteers from the Polk County emancipated program. These volunteers require special accommodations to make both office and field work productive and successful.
Jackie is more than happy to talk about how proud she is of all the volunteers, and how others can do the same thing. She and the NRCS State Volunteer Coordinator work closely in the recognition of all these volunteers. The Dallas Service Center would not be able to complete a quarter of the projects they do if not for their volunteers and Jackie’s willingness to lead them.
April 24, 2008
NRCS—Helping people help the land.
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conserve, maintain, and improve our natural resources and environment.
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