Award Date

8-15-2014

Degree Type

Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Public Administration (MPA)

Department

Environmental and Public Affairs

First Committee Member

Jaewon Lim

Number of Pages

92

Abstract

Background

Student evaluation team, M.A.R.S. Consulting Group (M.A.R.S.), conducted an evaluation of the Clark County Wetlands Park (CCWP) Volunteer Program from April 2014 through August 2014. The pre-assessment consisted of a qualitative analysis of the organization’s educational programs, tremendous growth in and establishment of facilities throughout 2013 and 2014, staff responsibilities, and volunteer programs. As a result of this pre-assessment, M.A.R.S. determined that an evaluation of the current volunteer program would have the most impact on the organization.

Purpose

The primary purpose of this evaluation is to provide Wetlands Park staff with suggestions and recommendations based on the identified needs of the current volunteer program.

Methodology

Qualitative information about the program was collected via interviews with CCWP staff members. Qualitative and qualitative data was collected via a benchmark study in reference to three comparable local volunteer programs. M.A.R.S. also collected quantitative data via surveys developed and distributed to current volunteers as well as Park visitors.

Major Findings

Volunteer survey and visitor survey respondents provided insight into wants, needs and likes, as well as constructive feedback regarding perceived issues (survey data and comments are available throughout the evaluation report and in the Appendix)

Volunteer Survey

The majority of respondents:

  • Expressed a desire for more in-depth communication with CCWP staff.
  • Indicated that additional training, specifically technical training, was most desired.
  • Expressed a desire for additional opportunities to socialize with peers.
  • Indicated that volunteer uniforms were uncomfortable, and of average quality.
  • Expressed a desire for the opportunity to spend more time outdoors, including hosting additional guided tours of the Park.
  • Expressed a desire for a vendor in the Café space, and/or a gift shop

Visitor Survey

The majority of respondents:

  • Indicated their primary reason for visiting the Park was to Walk/Run on Trails and visit the Nature Center.
  • Felt CCWP facilities were adequately staffed.
  • Expressed an interest in seeing additional guided tours of the Park.
  • Expressed a desire for a vendor in the Café space, and/or a gift shop
  • Indicated that they would return to Wetlands Park.

Cost Benefit Analysis

  • The volunteer appreciation program currently costs approximately $4,050.00 annually for a volunteer base of 75 volunteers.
  • The utilization of volunteers to run the Park produced a net benefit of $159,441.30 in FY13-14.
  • Should the Park reach its’ goal of expansion of the volunteer program to 150 volunteers, the Cost-Benefit ratio would be 60.33, meaning for every dollar spent on the volunteer program, the Park would receive a benefit of $60.33.

Recommendations

The results of the evaluation determined that the goal to expand the CCWP volunteer program could be accommodated within the current budget with the following adjustments:

  • Actionable Items (three to twelve months)
    • Cost Minimization Efforts on Current Volunteer Program Operation
      • Decrease the number of volunteer appreciation potlucks
      • Decrease the number of appreciation gifts
      • Modify the units in which volunteer commitment/contribution is measured and tracked
      • Increase the minimum volunteer requirement from eight to 16 hours each month
  • Increase communication between CCWP staff and volunteers
    • Offer additional training opportunities
    • Peer-to-peer training program
    • Additional forums for communication with volunteers and visitors
  • Short-Term Goals (One to Three Years)
    • Alternative uniform possibilities
    • Volunteer handbook
    • Additional guided group tours
  • Long-Term Goals (Three to Ten Years)
    • Café and/or Gift Shop
    • Volunteer management software
    • Addition of a nonprofit arm, the Friends of Wetlands

For the purposes of this evaluation report, “CCWP” and “The Park” will be used interchangeably to reference Clark County Wetlands Park. “M.A.R.S.” and “the evaluation team” will be used interchangeably to reference the M.A.R.S. student evaluation group.

Keywords

Student volunteers in social service; Voluntarism; Volunteers

Disciplines

Public Administration | Public Affairs | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration

Language

English


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