National Volunteer Week runs from 20-26 May. Many of our Young Farming Champions donate their time as volunteers and the plethora of volunteering opportunities can be overwhelming. In this edition of our Lessons Learnt series we talk with Lucy Collingridge to find out how to choose the volunteering role that is best-fit and how to amplify this role for maximum results.
The qualities of being a great volunteer
Volunteering is time and expertise given willingly, without financial gain, for the common good. It is not enough to have a desire to volunteer, volunteering is about believing a real difference can be made and it is about turning that desire and belief into action.
Young Farming Champion Lucy Collingridge is a Biosecurity Officer with NSW Local Land Services and a lover of all things agriculture. Lucy was not born into the industry. and made her connection to agriculture through the show movement as part of her high school’s show team – presenting beef cattle and competing in Young Judges competitions. Agricultural shows have become Lucy’s best-fit volunteering role.
Lucy as part of RAS Youth Group run events at the Sydney Royal Easter Show like Agrichats ( with host Costa in 2018)
“Each year we are alive we get to enjoy 8760 hours, and we can choose exactly how we spend those hours. There is work – 2080 hours. There is sleeping – 2912 hours. So what do we do with the remaining 3500?” says Lucy
For Lucy a lot of those hours are spent volunteering. Today you might find her as the social media and website manager for the Cootamundra Show, convening the Young Judges Competition at the Narrabri Show, co-ordinating showgirls at the Wee Waa Show or free-ranging as a steward at the Condobolin Show. In addition she works tirelessly in her role as a member of the RAS Youth Group at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.
For Lucy there are six main contributors to a successful volunteer experience: desire, belief, focus, teamwork, commitment and action.
Desire: “If you find something you love and something that drives you to do better, you will find that is it less work and more fun. As they say, if you love what you do then you will never work a day in your life.”
Belief: “Think about the difference you can make and what aligns with your values and lifestyle; think about what is going to give you the most enjoyment and make the most impact.”
Focus: “It is better to do a fantastic job at one task, meet your deadlines and have fun rather than trying to do too much and ending up not finishing tasks, having people waiting on you or picking up the pieces.”
Teamwork: “At the end of the day volunteers are all part of the same community working to benefit the same thing, so showing respect and working together as a team is important.”
Commitment: “Finding something you have a deep passion for will help you give 110% to everything you do in that area. If you find something challenging, you have that extra spark to push you through. If you are unsure of what to do next, you have the eagerness to find a way to a solution. If you can see there are gaps in that area, you have extra drive to go over and above.”
Action: “Be the person you want to work with. Call when you say you will, email the documents someone is relying on you to send, meet deadlines and be the best you can be.”
Volunteering is Lucy’s way of ‘paying it forward’ and inspiring others.
“The rewards I get from my involvement with the show movement and Picture You in Agriculture far outweigh any financial benefit I could receive. I get to network with some of the industry’s best, I get the opportunity for personal and professional development, I get to see so much of our amazing country and visit overseas destinations, I get to educate the general population on the amazing things happening in our agricultural industry. I enjoy being involved with the show movement as it still provides me with these, but I love that through my involvement I am able to give other young people the same opportunities that led me to falling in love with agriculture.”
Volunteering can be enormously rewarding. Energy and passion such as Lucy’s is infectious.
“It is a pleasure to serve alongside Lucy on the RAS Youth Group. She is someone you can rely onto to do what they say, respond to communications in a timely manner, and when required, get in, roll her sleeves up and do the hard yards”.
“Lucy’s dedication to the agricultural industry and country show movement is second to none. She is committed, incredibly passionate, and a great ambassador for our industry. Lucy’s exemplifies what it means to volunteer, and to give your absolute best to the roles that you put your hand up for” says Aimee Snowden Vice Chair of RAS of NSW Youth Group
Picture You in Agriculture is also run by volunteers and we are very grateful for the ‘doers” the organisation attracts. Our leadership team know that it is important young people do not over commit. If think you maybe unable to deliver then saying no to a volunteering request can be the best course of action,
With this in mind PYiA has developed a volunteering checklist. You can find it here
It helps our Young Farming Champions, like Lucy, be the best volunteers they can in order to amplify their voices and turn actions into performance and results.