University of Nevada, Reno Extension recently welcomed Cheryl Coleman to the Clark County - Las Vegas office as the volunteer development coordinator.
Coleman is working to innovate Extension’s volunteer management system, including policies, best practices and procedures, that will be consistent across programs and include a focus on diversity management and developing and engaging volunteers in rural areas. The system will help Extension programs, including 4-H Youth Development and Master Gardeners, with volunteer management practices while also giving volunteers the opportunity to pursue their own interests in a healthy and fun environment.
“I want to help programs understand how volunteers can be important members of their team,” Coleman said. “I want to challenge previous notions of volunteers playing menial roles and demonstrate that when a solid volunteer management system is in place, volunteers can effectively, as well as efficiently, contribute to Extension’s mission, objectives and goals.”
Coleman’s current projects include writing a standard operating procedures manual for faculty and staff who work with volunteers. To achieve this, Coleman is meeting with faculty and staff from Extension to understand their experiences working with volunteers, and to identify and incorporate feedback regarding relevant issues on the topic. Ultimately, the standard operating procedures for working with volunteers will identify where volunteer management could be strengthened, inform faculty and staff on volunteer management-related issues, and ensure that all volunteer-related programs are adhering to University and national guidelines. Coleman is also researching policy and compliance practices so volunteer management within Extension is as effective as possible.
Coleman studied public affairs at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where a large portion of her research involved workforce development and organizational leadership. In her dissertation, Coleman wrote and produced the original empirically based theory for volunteer management. In addition to her education, she has also been an avid volunteer in her own community. Her volunteer experience includes feeding the homeless and teaching Sunday school, where she held positions from new volunteer to leader and mentor. Having studied volunteer management and organizations from multiple perspectives, she is excited to bring her knowledge and experience to Extension.
“I love working in this field, and I knew that my skillset would be really valued in this position,” Coleman said. “There is so much more work and research that needs to be done in the field of volunteer management, and I’m so lucky to now be in an environment that’s fostering that work.”
“We are excited to have Cheryl onboard to help strengthen Extension’s volunteer management program,” said Eric Killian, Extension’s southern area director.
Looking forward, Coleman is hoping to restructure and innovate the volunteer management system, from onboarding to offboarding, to ensure that each program has the appropriate resources and training available to meet the needs of both volunteers and staff.