Bradley A. Leger, PhD
OK, we’ve done our homework: we’ve assembled a great Advisory Council which is an accurate reflection of our service area’s demographics. We’ve set the date and time for the meeting. What next? You’ve obviously given them some preliminary information on the purpose of the council, so you’ve hopefully hooked ‘em! Speaking from my own experience, I’ve always tried to keep in mind that that the people that I recruited are usually the “busy people” or “movers and shakers”. I certainly wanted them to feel that serving in this capacity will be time well-spent.
Orientation – I’ve read about some research which found that volunteers who do not receive orientation report being less motivated than those who receive orientation (McKinney, 2000). So, how do we get them motivated from the start and keep them engaged? I suggest that you take some time, either individually or as a group, to cover such points as the history of Extension and its present mission and vision along with their roles and responsibilities. Allow ample time for questions. Providing some refreshments, when possible, is always a great show of hospitality. A great source for them to go to is our public website: www.lsuagcenter.com.
Meeting agenda – Of course, organization is a major key to a successful meeting. Remember – we’re working with movers and shakers! A great sample agenda can be found in the ODE Sharepoint site.
Empowerment – Once your group is established and has elected a chair, empower that person by consulting with her/him in organizing the agenda. Once you get the group going, take a step back and let them do their work! Allow the chair to conduct the meetings. Provide the group with meaningful tasks and assignments. To keep them engaged, it is a good idea to meet at least quarterly.
What success stories have you had in assembling, orienting and motivating your councils?