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. Volunteers come from all over the nation with a few from Canada and some travel over 3,100 miles away to help 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 18 to their 80’s, a few even push the upper limits
- Volunteers usually work in pairs so our applicants can be married couples, significant other couples or individuals who come with a preferred partner (e.g. friend, sister, brother, etc) or let us choose their partner
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 strive to select a good mix of new, almost new, and seasoned volunteers for each session.
To understand better the qualities we look for during the selection process, read on...
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 their 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!)
Availability: Sign up to be a sub for any cancellations that come up during the seasons. As one volunteer so aptly stated, “I’ve volunteered for 14 years straight… not because I was chosen every year. It’s because I made myself available to sub.”
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. Some 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, how does the selection process work?
Once the application is online November 13, 2020, you go to the “Apply Now” link after reading all the necessary information, fill it out and hit “SUBMIT”
All communication is by email. Once your application is submitted, you will receive a “Reply” confirmation letting you know we got it. . .YEAH!!
After the application window closes in February, selections are made.
If selected, an email will be sent to each couple or individual with the selected season and dates.
If the volunteer accepts the selected assignment, they will complete and return a digital acceptance form by the due date
Upon receipt of the completed forms, we will send a confirmation reply and the volunteer’s spots are confirmed. Attached to that reply will be a link to “Volunteer General Information” which is important to review.
If Acceptance Forms are not received by the due date, we will contact the applicant(s) to determine the status of his/her/their selection.
What if I/we are not selected?
If not selected, you will be sent a “non-selected” letter and have an opportunity to sign up for subbing. 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. As stated before, subbing gives many an opportunity to volunteer every year.
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! We say we know how valuable volunteers are!
- 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 that doesn't always match up to their friends so carpooling from the same area is not feasible and can be complicated for getting to and from venues.
- - All clothing/dress requirements is provided in the “General Volunteer Information” link that is attached to your Confirmation of Acceptance reply.
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.
$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.