Volunteering in Medora: At-a-Glance

The TRMF Volunteer Program began in 1998 when Jean Neshiem spearheaded the effort to create a volunteer program in Medora. Since its beginning, utilizing 44 volunteers that entire first summer, the program has continued to grow.

Today, we typically receive more than 800 applications for our 650 volunteer positions. In 2019, a record number of volunteers from over 20 states and over 3,100 miles away helped TRMF in a big way --  and all while sporting huge smiles! 

Volunteers come from everywhere, each serving as wonderful ambassadors for Medora while enjoying one of “the best weeks of their life”.

So who are these amazing volunteers; where do they come from; what do they do; and how do I get chosen?

Keep reading…we’ll answer all of these and more!

Who can volunteer?

- Our volunteers range in age from 21 to their 80’s, a few even push the upper limits
- We receive applications from all over the country from both individuals and couples
- Married and significant other couples can fill out one application
- Individuals with or without preferred partners each need to fill out an application and then be paired with another person by us, or may select a preferred partner e.g. – sister, brother, friend, neighbor, etc. on their application

We are asked many times, "With so many applicants, how do you make selections?"

It is the hardest thing that we have to do and we work diligently to be as fair and consistent as possible. We assume each applicant has read and understands what it takes to be selected as a top-notch Medora Volunteer. 


So, What Qualities Does a Great Medora Volunteer Have?

Qualities and Attributes

To understand better what we would look for when selecting volunteers, it is helpful to understand the culture in which this program operates and the characteristics needed to maintain that culture. Not only are the volunteers important to the front lines and operations of many venues, but each action or interaction a volunteer makes during their time in Medora is key to creating great experiences for our visitors! 

Volunteers add so much diversity to Medora's culture, they work side by side with our employees and become a vital team member, part of the “family”!  TRMF is a family who values family.

The volunteers working on the front lines at venues act as Medora ambassadors. They provide excellence in hospitality, model respect for people and place and serve with creativity and integrity.

In addition to those working out front, many more are our behind the scenes heroes who are painting, building, cleaning, mowing, planting and hundreds of other tasks that preserve the original essence of Medora and enables us to present our guests a top-notch experience. 

To help determine if you would be a good match to our program, review the following list of attributes and qualities we would expect to see in a great volunteer:

-  Demonstrates a passion for and an interest in Medora, the Badlands and in preserving its present and its past
-  Enjoys serving the guests who come to Medora for a great experience
-  Is self-directed and motivated
-  Has a positive, uplifting attitude
-  Is a problem solver, a solution-finder
-  Is eager to learn and willing to adapt to change; shows a willingness to be flexible
-  Asks for help when needed and ready to help others
-  Attends and actively participates in orientation and training sessions
-  Completes duties as assigned and/or as needed
-  Meets the physical, mental and emotional challenges of the volunteer duties
-  Understands the Vision of TRMF and works to carry out its Mission and Values
-  Demonstrates their commitment to benefit the organization is greater than benefit to self

Then, we try to look at the following:

- We ensure that each applicant has sent in a fully completed application, by the due date
- We want and need to achieve a rich blend of new and returning volunteers. We do this by ensuring each season has a mix of new, almost new, and well-seasoned volunteers.
- We look for geographical diversity; promoting a richness of cultures and experience
- We need to consider the preferences of each individual/couple for particular weeks and/or seasons. Each individual must choose his/her first and second choice for date and season
- We consider prior years of service and quality of past efforts
- We must seek a blend of couples & singles that can be accommodated in our lodging facility

Two other specific things are very helpful in increasing selection: FLEXIBILITY and AVAILABILITY.

Flexibility: paraphrasing Pres. John Kennedy, “Ask not what TRMF can do for you, but what you can do for TRMF” shows itself in your willingness to try varied experiences, e.g. - End of Season instead of In-Season, put your preferences in different times of the same season. (Many of you have taken the risk to try out a different season and found it to be equally rewarding, and in many cases even better!)       


Are there a lot of different seasons and experiences for me to choose from?

Absolutely! Beginning in early spring through the end of September, there is a little of something for everyone! Whether you are a “born talker”, an “I just want to build something” handyman/woman, a golfer or you simply love to serve customers, we think you’ll find your spot.

Some folks take a different tack and sign up for a session that is totally not them because they want to learn a new skill, try something different, stretch and grow!

Explore the “Apply Now" page. There you will find descriptions of each session -- Please take a look at the volunteer sessions for next season even if you’re a veteran Medora volunteer. Many of the options have been modified from previous years.

Reminder: the number of In Season applications are consistently 2-3 times more than the number of spots available.


So, you’ve made the selections. What happens next?

With this being 2020 and all, we are moving away from snail mail so you can expect to receive information through the super-duper quick email machine!

- A selection email with accompanying materials is sent to each individual or couple with your season and dates
- If accepting your assignment, you are asked to complete and return your digital acceptance forms and the Medical Release form by the due date
- Upon receipt of your completed forms, your spot(s) are confirmed. If not received by the due date, we will contact the selected applicant(s) to determine the status of his/her selection


What if I/we are not selected?

- Within the application, you will have an opportunity to sign up for subbing as I typically need to replace 50-70 volunteers who for a variety of reasons cannot accept their chosen season/date. Hopefully, those canceling give adequate advance notice. However, many are last-minute and spots are filled on a first-come basis.


Keep scrolling to see the great perks and benefits volunteers get...


Volunteering: What We Provide


You give so much to Medora and we are so grateful. So, it's only appropriate that we can take care of you. Many of you say that we treat volunteers better than anyone! Yee Haw, that's good! 

- Provided at no charge at either the Elkhorn Quarters or the Spirit of Work Lodge.  If you choose to bring an RV, a site is provided for you at the Medora Campground.  

- All meals are provided free of charge at the Life Skills Center cafeteria.

You will need to provide your own transportation to and from Medora. 
- You will also be expected to provide or arrange for getting to your various job locations. Most of the sites are within walking or biking distance, but not all.
- Every pair/couple needs to have one vehicle since each pair has a separate schedule (carpooling with friends from the same area is not feasible.

Clothing/Dress Code:
- All clothing/dress requirements will be spelled out in your acceptance packet


Discounts and Perks while volunteering:
- Volunteers may receive up to a 25% discount for meals at other TRMF restaurants or food venues.
- Volunteers are able to attend the Medora Musical, the shows at the Old Town Hall Theater and several other activities free of charge 
- Volunteers may receive a 25% discount at all TRMF gift shops
- Volunteers may play the Bully Pulpit Golf course at the employee rate for green fees/cart. WOW!

There ya have it! Now you know what makes a great volunteers, what we provide you with, and the sweet deals ya get! More questions? Check out our FAQ page!

Thanks again for your interest in the TRMF Volunteer Program. We're lucky to have hundreds of people like you helping us to accomplish our mission to Connect People to Medora for Positive, Life-Changing Experiences.

Take a look at next year's Volunteer Season Sessions, and Apply Today.


$100,000 Seed Gift Starts Denis Montplaisir Volunteer Endowment

Also, learn about the brand new Denis Montplaisir Volunteer Endowment in honor of the late program coordinator and aimed to fund the TRMF Volunteer Program forever. Learn more here. 

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