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I just got word that volunteers are still urgently needed to help with the National Sheepdog Finals this year at the Belle Grove Plantation in Virginia (roughly an hour from DC and an hour and a half from Baltimore), Oct. 7-13, 2013. One position in particular that is extremely short-handed (working at the admissions gate) requires no expertise at all!

 

If you're planning on attending, and can spare even the time to work a single shift, please consider volunteering.

 

You can contact the volunteer coordinators at the Finals website at: http://www.nationalsheepdogfinals.org/volunteers.html

 

It appears as if Kim Baker (whose email address is linked to there) is at present the person to contact to volunteer for gate duty.

 

I also have it on good authority that Michelle Dobbs is also seeking additional volunteers for the Hospitality Tent.

 

Thanks, all! I'm sure you'll find me there - hopefully not full time at the gate!

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Just heard it from the Boss herself that anyone volunteering at the Finals gets free entry for that day! And you should contact her directly (Lori Cunningham, that is) if you're able to volunteer. PM me if you need her email address, as I don't think there's a link to it from the Finals website.

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I just got word that volunteers are still urgently needed to help with the National Sheepdog Finals this year at the Belle Grove Plantation in Virginia (roughly an hour from DC and an hour and a half from Baltimore), Oct. 7-13, 2013. One position in particular that is extremely short-handed (working at the admissions gate) requires no expertise at all!

Attending the finals is on my "to do" list, but not this year. Darn. It's an opportunity to see the very best dogs and handling. I look forward to live streaming over the internet.

 

The admissions gate volunteers have an important role at the Finals. Because they are one of the first contacts a person has with the event, they set the tone for the visitor's entire stay. I am pleased to hear (later in this discussion) organizers/coordinators will prepare volunteers to answer inquiries about services, facilities, visitors' dogs, protocol for viewing, along with other questions a newcomer may have. A good pre-duty briefing would include an understanding of the significance of the Finals, together with what an SDT is all about.

 

It's my understanding that coordinators will pre-brief volunteers, so forward a PM to Alchemist (above) and get started. Wish I could help-out this year. -- TEC

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The admissions gate volunteers have one of the critical jobs at the Finals. Because they are the first contact a person has with the event, they set the tone for the visitor's entire stay. They should be well briefed on parking, visitors' dogs, services, facilities, protocol for viewing, hours, food concessions, along with any number of questions that a newcomer may have. They should be able to describe the significance of the Finals together with a few sentences on what an SDT is all about.

 

TEC[/size]

I think this is a great idea. When I go to an event that I am not familiar with, I really appreciate a pamphlet with bullet points or narrative with the most salient facts so I can appreciate what I am experiencing.

 

Jovi

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If a little odd for someone who has never even attended a National Finals to be telling the organizers how things should be done.

 

ETA: TEC completely changed his post above, apparently after he didn't like the responses it received. Glad it sparked some discussion anyway.

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Not sure if you are speaking to me (and I have attended a National Finals - as a spectator) or TEC --- but I don't think that ideas that might contribute to a more fulfilling experience for the general public should be automatically disqualified just because the ideas might come from someone who has never attended the event. (I do not know if TEC has or hasn't.) There are common denominators when holding an event that contribute to a better experience for the viewing public, and I felt that TEC had good suggestions. None of those suggestions affected the handlers or dogs or how the actual competition was organized - which is where prior handling and competing experience would come into play.

 

I have competed in, organized, and attended as a spectator, many events over the years that involve animals. So I know from personal experience that people at all levels of participation can contribute valid ideas for improving the event.

 

Jovi

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I was speaking to TEC, who himself stated that he had never been to a National Finals. I found it odd and unhelpful (to the point of discouraging help actually) that in a thread seeking volunteers because they "are still urgently needed" and one position that is "extremely short-handed (working at the admissions gate) requires no expertise at all!" at the Finals coming up in less than a month, TEC refutes what those involved with the Finals prep are saying and instead details his own stipulations and qualifications that he believes these mythical volunteers should have. If he is so interested in "helping" the Finals be what he thinks they should be, perhaps he should come to Virginia and volunteer to share his expertise at the gate.

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I have competed in, organized, and attended as a spectator, many events over the years that involve animals. So I know from personal experience that people at all levels of participation can contribute valid ideas for improving the event.

 

Jovi

 

And having done that you'll be aware that sometimes an outsider sees things more clearly than those closely involved who may have got used to doing things in a particular way.

 

But on the other hand, what seems to be a reasonable suggestion by an outsider may already have been considered and discarded by the organisers for good reasons.

 

I can't see any justification for taking offence just because someone has an opinion on what they like to find as a customer arriving at an event. If I was that thin skinned I wouldn't stick my neck out as an organiser.

 

It's a fact of life that people will come back if you put on a well organised event; if you don't they won't. It's in everybody's interests to listen to the opinions of others (even if some of them are stupid and unreasonable).

 

I totally agree with TEC that

 

 

The admissions gate volunteers have one of the critical jobs at the Finals. Because they are the first contact a person has with the event, they set the tone for the visitor's entire stay.

 

I wouldn't single out this event for that comment; it applies to all events. And I'm not knocking these Finals because I have no idea how well those involved do their jobs. I don't think TEC was knocking them either, just challenging the comment that no expertise was necessary.

 

For all we know the volunteers will be well briefed beforehand even if they had no prior experience. Or maybe they do have information leaflets to hand out.

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As someone who has worked the gate at a National Finals, I do agree that it is very helpful for the gate folks to have a certain level of knowledge/information available so that they can answer questions. But I will also say that when the gate is busy, with people lined up to enter, there is not much time available to answer any but the most basic questions as you are selling admission tickets and programs to a public eager to get into the event and begin enjoying the activity.

 

The gate people are ambassadors (as are the parking ushers) in that they are the first line of contact but they are not there to provide an extensive array of information. There is no level of *expertise* required - you do need to be enthusiastic, and know the location of seating, portajohns, handicap access, and vendors, as well as basic protocol (where to sit or not to sit, control of pet dogs if allowed in, etc.). Volunteers at the gate for the 2013 National Sheepdog Finals will have been well briefed with the salient information.

 

At Belle Grove, people will have already parked so that's not in the equation at the gate.

 

The program (which I have found to be very popular among all levels of spectators) will provide information that there just is not time to provide at the gate unless the incoming traffic flow is extremely slow. The idea of a free, brief brochure is appealing but it might contribute to a decline in program sales, which is a major fund-raiser for an event like this, between the sales for ads and the sales of the program itself. In addition, while paid-for programs are rarely left behind or dropped on the ground, free brochures often wind up discarded, left, dropped - trash for trial volunteers to have to pick up after.

 

At Belle Grove, there are normally volunteers who have jobs that allow them to be available to answer questions that spectators may ask in the spectators' tent or around the grounds. Also, many of the handlers are more than willing to answer questions when they are not preparing for a run.

 

I think Laura was a bit offended that some people can find it easy to pontificate about what *others should be doing* when those same people haven't been involved in the work themselves. And that those musings could cause people who might want to volunteer, and who would be very capable of doing this job with minimal instruction, to rethink and wonder if they can be qualified.

 

If you have ideas, offer to volunteer, be part of an organizing committee, do the work, see what it entails, and make your contributions known in that way. Don't contradict the very people who are working hard to get the job done.

 

And, yes, I am feeling a bit testy...hot, sweaty, and tired. But looking forward to another, well-organized and well-run, National Sheepdog Finals in October. It takes a lot more than just a village to put it on.

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Well said, Sue. Sometimes, putting on large events can be a lesson in soul-sucking. It's no wonder that people often don't step up for a second round of it.

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I think Laura was a bit offended that some people can find it easy to pontificate about what *others should be doing* when those same people haven't been involved in the work themselves. And that those musings could cause people who might want to volunteer, and who would be very capable of doing this job with minimal instruction, to rethink and wonder if they can be qualified.

 

If you have ideas, offer to volunteer, be part of an organizing committee, do the work, see what it entails, and make your contributions known in that way. Don't contradict the very people who are working hard to get the job done.

 

Exactly--thanks Sue!

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Yep! Thanks, Sue, for putting it so well!!!

 

The plan is to have three of us on board at all times - someone from Belle Grove, and two volunteers. With luck, if there's a question one of us can't answer, one of the other two will have the answer. And after a four-hour stint (which is what I've currently been assigned, for both Saturday and Sunday), I'm guessing it'll be hard for anyone to come up with a question that I won't be able to address!

 

There will be a single gate this year - sited close to the Open field. I'm hoping this will give me a chance to listen to the action if things get slow. I'm also looking forward to sharing the duty with some interesting individuals I've met at clinics but would like to get to know better. Though four hours each day on Saturday and Sunday might be a wee bit too much of a good thing when there are also people I know will be there, and who I'd like to get a chance to meet in person :)

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I think that the gate has a good view of the field, when you are not busy and facing towards the house, that is. Here's hoping more people will step up and offer to help between now and then.

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If a little odd for someone who has never even attended a National Finals to be telling the organizers how things should be done.

Healthy organizations seek suggestions from every sector.

 

Forum members, including myself, pick-up a good deal of knowledge/skills volunteering to work, running and observing at their local SDT's, such that the best portions of those events can be templated to others.

 

Points, for example, "...requires no expertise at all!" (emphasis added; see first post above) and counterpoints, such as suggestion that coordinators should pre-brief admission gate personnel to make them knowledgeable, are appropriate parts of internet discussion groups.

 

It's good to hear that gate volunteers, "...will have been," briefed on their duties and answers to common visitor's questions. -- TEC

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If Lynn's post had been along the lines of "Hey, we're less than a month away from Finals. What do you think makes a good admissions gate worker at a large event?", then yes, I suppose it would be reasonable to have a discussion on that, and even those with only local and/or interwebz experience could chip in.

 

However, Lynn was asking for volunteers, and so as not to intimidate newbies/novices who might want to volunteer but are worried that they might not have the appropriate skills or experience, she added that the position requires "no expertise at all". I read that as you need not have worked the gate before, you would be given the information and training needed to get the job done.

 

Lynn, I hope you guys get enough volunteers and you're able to watch some of the trial!

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Healthy organizations seek suggestions from every sector.

 

Forum members pick-up a good deal of knowledge/skills volunteering to work for their local SDT's, such that the best portions of those events can be templated to others.

 

Points, for example, "...requires no expertise at all!" (emphasis added; see first post above) and counterpoints, such as suggestion that admission gate personnel should be well-briefed and knowledgeable, are appropriate parts of internet discussion groups.

 

It's good to hear that gate volunteers, "...will have been," briefed on their duties and answers to common visitor's questions. -- TEC

 

And healthy organizations depend on volunteers, many of whom start with little or even no real experience. Have you done a lot of volunteering for sheepdog trials in your area? Do you have areas of "expertise" so that you can offer to help out at future events, and can let those organizers know how to do things just right? Even better, how about volunteering the next time the Finals is over on your side of the country? With your good thoughts and suggestions, I'm sure you would be a valuable member of the planning committee, volunteer coordinators, or other positions of need.

 

And, yes, there are a number of volunteer jobs at an event like this that really require "no expertise" or which only require a brief orientation. Remember also that Lynn posted this request here, on the USBCC Boards, where a majority of people have had at least some very minimal exposure to the concept of the working sheepdog. You may think we don't know what we are talking about but I think I would rather trust people who have "been there, done that" and have the experience to share.

 

Talk is cheap. It's what you do that speaks volumes. Don't go telling the people who are doing the work how they can do it better. They are thinking things out, discussing and planning, looking at their (and others') experiences, and evaluating what has worked and what has not worked so well, so they can do things even better next time around.

 

PS - The folks at the gate, as at any gate at any major event, are not the information booth. They are selling tickets and programs, making change, directing people towards the main event and the seating and the portajohns, and maybe even passing out brochures. But their main job is selling tickets and programs, being welcoming and enthusiastic, and they are kept quite busy doing that very job. If you'd been to a National Sheepdog Finals, you would be well aware of that.

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If Lynn's post had been along the lines of "Hey, we're less than a month away from Finals. What do you think makes a good admissions gate worker at a large event?", then yes, I suppose it would be reasonable to have a discussion on that, and even those with only local and/or interwebz experience could chip in.

 

However, Lynn was asking for volunteers, and so as not to intimidate newbies/novices who might want to volunteer but are worried that they might not have the appropriate skills or experience, she added that the position requires "no expertise at all". I read that as you need not have worked the gate before, you would be given the information and training needed to get the job done.

 

Lynn, I hope you guys get enough volunteers and you're able to watch some of the trial!

 

Thanks, Kristi (and Sue)! As always, you're saying it far better than I could have. Yep, we're under the gun here. I'm confident that anyone with half a will (and that's what it takes to volunteer, so I figured that part could be taken for granted) could easily be trained in no time. In fact I've found people (including you, Sue!) have been quite patient in the past at training me in jobs that might superficially seem to demand a bit more in the way of expertise, such as scribing.

 

If you're thinking of volunteering, but are hesitant, lest you worry you'll be over your head - never fear! With three of us there at all times, all the bases should be covered. And as Sue says, it's mostly a matter of selling tickets and programs and making change and being enthusiastic. Maybe reminding spectators who bring their own dogs as to what some of the rules are - dogs should be well-behaved, and please don't throw balls or sticks anywhere close to where dogs who are competing might spot it and get revved up. Encouraging people to tour the Plantation house so that Belle Grove is happy to continue hosting this event. Encouraging them to sample the vendor tents and all the other activities described in the program. Nothing that's not common sense or that might require an advanced degree.

 

Kristi, thanks, I have to confess that I *am* hoping to spend some time spectating, but even if we don't get enough volunteers to buy me much time away from the gate, I know I'll enjoy any chance I get to chat with the people sharing this effort with me. And if I have anywhere near as much fun as I had last time (though I expect to have MUCH more!) - what's to lose? It's still a "can't miss!!!" event!

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Talk is cheap. It's what you do that speaks volumes. Don't go telling the people who are doing the work how they can do it better. They are thinking things out, discussing and planning, looking at their (and others') experiences, and evaluating what has worked and what has not worked so well, so they can do things even better next time around.

Discussion, planning and pre-briefings are not expensive compared to the cost of rightfully unhappy visitors who get poor greetings or inaccurate information to common questions. They leave early or don't return.

 

Visitors want to believe they have admission gate specialists to talk to, proficient in quick accurate answers to common inquiries, or correct guidance on where to find them.

 

In America you can justifiably dispute the call, "boo" the ref/ump having never played the game; make valid suggestions to elected/appointed officials without having run for office; write well-founded letters to the editor, not having operated a newspaper, and so on. So suggest you get down off your high horse about what people can and can't do on an internet discussion group. If folks don't want discussion, debate and suggestions about volunteer jobs, they can post them somewhere which does not provide for that, and/or not set themselves up by remarking the job requires absolutely no expertise.

 

Thank you for the kind words about my qualifications as a volunteer and/or coordinator. The discussion started on gate volunteers for the 2013 Finals, not Finals in general, or upcoming Finals. What's going on in my life at the time will determine whether I attend a future Final.

 

Best wishes for a successful event. -- TEC

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Visitors want to think they have admission gate specialists to talk to, proficient in quick accurate answers or correct guidance on where to find them.

When I worked the gate at Belle Grove in 1999 none of the hundreds of visitors asked the questions you suggest those working the gate should know. The few questions at the gate were about admission price, returning to the trial field if they need to go to their car, a program, and where to go to watch the trial.

 

BTW, by the time visitors make it to the gate they will have already been directed to their parking spot.

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If everyone who bitched and moaned about something with which they have no experience and about which other people are working hard toward actually put themselves out there to contribute and got off their butts even just once, there'd be a whole lot less bitching and moaning. Alas, it is so very much easier to sit on one's butt and tell others how things should be done.

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If everyone who bitched and moaned about something with which they have no experience and about which other people are working hard toward actually put themselves out there to contribute and got off their asses even just once, there'd be a whole lot less bitching and moaning. Alas, it is SO very much easier to sit on one's ass and tell others how things should be done. (my emphasis added)

Laurae -- You are becoming alarming and scary. Disagreement, debate and verbal self-defense are mainstays of our system. Are you part of the Finals volunteer corps or an organizer? May reconsider, and forego attending or volunteering if/when a future one is within reasonable driving distance. -- TEC

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Wish I could be there, would love to volunteer. Having already done a drive to PA to pick up a puppy a week beforehand throws a wrench in it though. Hope you can scrape up some more volunteers and get some to just watch and enjoy!

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Laurae needs a pinned-on warning label before greeting visitors at the Finals. Ugly scene: Visitor grumbles about something, and gets a response like post #20, above. -- TEC

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