Who can participate in S.T.A.T.E.?

Any student in grades 8-12 can become a S.T.A.T.E. volunteer, regardless of location. While we appreciate the enthusiasm we’ve received from other members of the community, this organization has been created for teenagers, and we cannot accept volunteers outside of this age range. For ambitious folks who exceed the S.T.A.T.E. age limit, you can try to find an opportunity at www.volunteermatch.org or local organizations such as garden clubs or nature centers. See our Friends of S.T.A.T.E. tab for ideas!

How much does it cost to enroll in S.T.A.T.E.?

Nothing. This program is sponsored by Avalon Park and Preserve and requires no enrollment or membership fees.

What types of volunteer events will the students be offered?

We aim to offer a wide range of volunteer events to students, from hands-on scientific projects such as water testing or soil sampling, to more labor-intensive tasks such as gardening or fence construction. On top of scheduled events with non-profits, students will have the opportunity to participate in the full spectrum of responsibilities associated with Avalon’s new community garden.

Do students have to participate in all S.T.A.T.E. events to be considered a member?

Certainly not. We understand that teenagers have other obligations, and not every event will appeal to every STATE member. Membership is granted upon completion of the application process. Thereafter, volunteer hours are tracked, and students rise to various levels of membership, determined by their hourly commitment. We strongly encourage frequent involvement in STATE events to better the students’ experiences, both as individuals and for the group as a whole. Students who volunteer frequently will be rewarded with invitations to special events to celebrate their achievements.

Where will the students be volunteering and how will they get there?

Volunteer events will be held at Avalon Park and Preserve or on-site at the non-profit’s venue. The meet-up location will be posted with the event description so that you can know whether or not the student will be able to be dropped off and picked up from the site. Avalon does not provide transportation for volunteers, but encourages carpooling for increased convenience and decreased fuel consumption.

What if a student signs up for an event, and later realizes that he/she can’t make it?

We ask that volunteers give us 5 days notice if they are unable to make an event for which they have signed up. This gives us time to email other members and offer the position to another student. We choose a set number of volunteers for most events to try to be sure that the task can be accomplished, and to prevent a situation where students are standing around with nothing to do.

Of course, we understand that there are emergencies, sicknesses, and other unforeseen events that can jump up. In these cases, contact Kayla as soon as possible. As long as the student’s parents confirm the emergency, he/she will not be penalized.

However, if we notice a pattern with a student consistently backing out of events, we will have to take consequential action, possibly leading to a student’s membership being revoked. So please, stick with your commitments!

This sounds like a lot of work. What are the volunteers getting out of it?

A student’s involvement with STATE might very well be his or her first time using a hammer, planting seedlings, or examining the local ecology. Yes—these and other related activities involve physical and mental efforts, and at times may be challenging. Stimulating students in such ways is one of STATE’s goals: the program is ideal for students who feel a need to apply themselves to and learn from activities that they are not offered in school.

Students are rewarded with self-confidence and a healthy dose of pride through the process and completion of tasks such as food production and community building. This is also an opportunity for students to meet and spend time with adults involved in a diverse range of careers, possibly sparking students’ interests and establishing contacts for their future paths. Volunteers also enjoy the time spent working together as a group, meeting other like-minded teenagers and creating their own social networks between different school districts.

Students are also rewarded when they contribute a certain number of hours each month to STATE. Reward programs that can be anything from dinners, to kayaking outings, to hiking trips, and will be offered to students who have volunteered for a certain percentage of the hours offered in a particular month. Above the fun, experience, and self-respect we provide for the students at volunteer events, we want to be sure that they have time to relax with other STATE members and bask in the group’s successes!

Do you keep track of volunteer hours or should I keep track of my own? Do you write letters of recommendation?

While we do track all of our volunteers’ hours of participation, the safest way to keep a flawless record is to keep a log or calendar of your own hours. When you need certification of your hours, please e-mail Kayla either with your total to check it against the total on file, or if you do not have a total for your hours, I will email you the total on file. Signatures or letters of volunteer service can typically be turned around in a week or less.

If you are seeking a letter of recommendation for college, National Honor Society, a scholarship, or any other reason, we are happy to provide one, but ask for a lead time of 2 weeks or more, and for our volunteers answer the following questions:

1) What was your favorite STATE event and why?
2) What do you feel that you contributed during your time volunteering?
3) Did you encounter anything challenging while volunteering, and how did you address it?
4) What do you regard as the best lesson/skill/concept that you’ve been introduced to through your time with STATE?
5) Feel free to write about any other relevant experiences, thoughts, or feelings— positive or negative!

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