Michigan State University Extension Volunteer Selection Process
Why Was the MSU Extension Volunteer Selection Process Developed?
Most people who choose to work with children and vulnerable adults are caring, responsible people who have the needs and best interests of those they serve in mind at all times. They are members of caring communities who are significant in helping young people on their journey to competent and contributing adulthood and help those with disabilities achieve their full potential.
Michigan State University Extension continues to respond to the needs of program participants by providing experiences led by volunteers. MSU Extension must make sure that the process of selecting individuals to serve as volunteers adequately identifies, selects, trains and supports those interested in volunteer leadership. As Extension workers and volunteers, we strive to do all we can to ensure that individuals who come to our programs are treated with respect and dignity, and are provided with safe, caring environments in which to learn and have fun.
Whether we are staff members or volunteers, teens or adults, all of us who work closely with young people and vulnerable adults have the potential to have profoundly impacts on the well-being of others. In addition to providing safe and appropriate environments, we must also be positive role models–focusing on how we communicate with others, our methods of problem-solving and discipline, and how sensitive we are to the individual needs of all program participants.
The responsibility for the well-being of children and vulnerable adults lies with each and every one of us. The Michigan State University Extension Volunteer Selection Process is designed to outline a process that carefully selects and matches appropriate individuals with efforts that best meet the needs of everyone involved.
What Is the Selection Process for MSU Extension Volunteers?
This selection process is for volunteers who desire to work directly with youth and/or adults who have severe mental, physical or emotional disabilities during the course of their participation in MSU Extension programs. Its purpose is to help ensure the appropriate selection and placement of volunteers for MSU Extension activities involving youth. It’s also designed to provide documentation on volunteer selection and placement. A similar process is used for MSU Extension staff who work with youth programs.
The following describes the rationale behind this process:
- MSU Extension strives to provide a safe, nurturing environment for youth and vulnerable adults participating in its programs.
- MSU Extension has behavioral expectations for adults who volunteer in its programs. These expectations are written as an "MSU Extension Staff and Volunteer Agreement and Code of Conduct Form" and are available to parents and guardians, to those who wish to be volunteers, and to those charged with helping staff make decisions about volunteer selection and placement.
- A selection process is a method of strengthening recruitment and placement of volunteers and staff for Michigan State University Extension programs.
Steps in the Process
- The Extension staff and/or trained volunteer selection committee or team gives to or sends the potential volunteer the "MSU Extension Volunteer Application Form" and the "MSU Extension Criminal History Check Permission Form" to complete. The "MSU Extension Criminal History Check Permission Form" may be waived if the applicant has undergone the check with another agency within the past year.
- The potential volunteer completes and submits the "MSU Extension Volunteer Application Form" and the "MSU Extension Criminal History Check Permission Form" to the local Extension office.
- The staff (or team of trained volunteers) who process the application review the "MSU Extension Volunteer Application Form" and request information from references using the "MSU Extension Volunteer Telephone Reference Form" and/or the "MSU Extension Volunteer Mail Reference Form."
- Extension staff conducts a criminal history background check through the Michigan State Police Web site called the Internet Criminal History Access Tool (ICHAT). For purposes of confidentiality, this step is carried out only by staff and all results are kept in a locked file. A criminal history check must be conducted on all MSU Extension volunteers every three years.
- If the results of either of step 3 or step 4 are unacceptable, the staff sends a letter to the volunteer applicant saying his or her application has not been accepted. If the results of these steps are acceptable, the staff or trained volunteers conduct an interview with the potential applicant.
- If the outcome of the interview is unacceptable, the staff sends a letter to the applicant saying his or her application has not been accepted. If the outcome of the interview is acceptable, the staff sends a letter to the applicant saying his or her application has been accepted.
- If the volunteer is accepted, he or she will sign the "MSU Extension Staff and Volunteer Agreement and Code of Conduct Form," before enrolling through the county’s volunteer enrollment system. All volunteers working with youth and vulnerable adults should be enrolled on the county Blue Ribbon software program.
When Is the Process Used?
New staff and volunteers aged 19 and over, who will have ongoing or unsupervised access to children aged 19 and under and/or to adults who have severe mental, physical or emotional disabilities during the course of their participation in MSU Extension programs, are subject to the MSU Extension Volunteer Selection Process. "Ongoing" is defined as more than four meetings or gathering times or in-depth contact (such as overnight events and out-of-state or exchange trips). "Unsupervised" would mean that the person is alone with children or vulnerable adults for significant periods of time (15 minutes or more). This includes volunteers who work with any MSU Extension programs involving youth or vulnerable adults, including 4-H organizational leaders, 4-H project leaders, activity leaders, chaperones, resource persons, adult host family members and Proud Equestrian Programs (PEP) therapeutic riding volunteers, etc.
MSU Extension Volunteer Selection Process
This document from MSU Extension describes the volunteer selection process in detail and includes forms, interview procedures and information for interviewers. (revised 2008) The following links provide additional forms and sample letters:
If you have questions about the Volunteer Selection Process, contact the MSU Extension staff in your county Extension office. If you are not in Michigan, contact:
Julie Chapin, Ph.D.
Director, MSU Extension Children and Youth Institute
State Leader, MSU Extension 4-H Youth Development
Michigan State University
160 Agriculture Hall
East Lansing MI 48824-1039