Volunteers are fundamental to many successful Extension programs, yet research indicates that nearly one third of volunteers quit because of poor management practices. The North Central Region 4-H volunteer specialists developed the online course, Achieving the Extension Mission through Volunteers, for the novice and experienced Extension professional working with volunteers to enhance and deliver Extension programs. This course is designed to highlight best practices while building staff and organizational capacity in volunteer development and management in all Extension program areas with a cohort of peers.


This course is offered nationally for Extension professionals from all program areas who would like to increase their knowledge and skills in volunteer development and management. It is recommended for staff with at least one year or more of experience.

Course Structure

Participants engage in a facilitated online learning community with a cohort of Extension peers. The 7-week course includes a combination of self-directed and same-time learning opportunities, including pre-recorded presentations, readings/resources, activities, 3 webinars and 3 video conference calls. It takes 4 to 6 hours each week to complete the course.


Week 1
Introduction: Explore the course site and join discussions with cohort members.
Participate in a video conference call with your cohort group (see course info for times).
Week 2 
Module 1: Volunteerism in Extension
Module 2: Motivation and Trends in Volunteerism
Participate in Webinar #1 on Thursday or Friday (see course info for times).
Week 3
Module 3: Identifying and Recruiting Volunteers
Week 4
Work week: Catch up on and dive deeper into the content we've covered up to now.
Participate in a video conference call with your cohort group on Wednesday (see course info for times).
Week 5
Module 4: Selecting and Orienting Volunteers
Week 6
Module 5: Supporting Volunteers: Training, Recognition and Coaching
Participate in Webinar #2 on Thursday or Friday (see course info for times).
Week 7
Module 6: Communicating Public Value
Participate in Webinar #3 on Thursday or Friday (see course info for times).
Participate in a final video conference call with our cohort group (see course info for times).


Participants will:

  • Build staff and organizational capacity around volunteer development and management.
  • Increase volunteer management competencies.
  • Build knowledge and skills to identify, recruit, select, and support volunteers.
  • Learn current volunteer trends and how they may impact programming.
  • Understand the organization's philosophy related to volunteerism and develop their own philosophy.


Technical Requirements

For optimum participation, use:

  • high speed internet connection to view pre-recorded presentations 
  • a headset/earbuds for webinar and video conference calls

Registration and Payment

  • Each registration must be completed separately. (That is, it is not possible to put multiple registrants' registrations into your "cart" and check them all out at once.)
  • We recommend that participants register themselves, but it is possible for another staff member to register a participant. (That person will be creating an account for the participant and will need to share the password they create with the participant.)
  • It is essential that if someone other than the participant is registering the participant, they enter the participant's email address (NOT their own) when they register the person. 
  • Payment must be made at the time of registration. 
  • Payment is accepted by credit card only. (No POs, invoices or payment by check.)

Cancellation policy

Registration will remain open until December 29, unless the course fills before that date. Cancellations prior to December 29 will be fully refunded; no refunds will be issued for later cancellations. If you have questions or need to cancel your registration, please call 612-624-1999.


  • Course content questions - Tillie Good: tbgood@iastate.edu
  • Registration questions - Colleen Byrne: byrne015@umn.edu or 612-624-1999
  • Questions regarding technical issues - UM Technology Help: help@umn.edu or 612-301-4357
Enroll Now - Select a section to enroll in
Section Title
Achieving the Extension Mission through Volunteers
Online, instructor led
Jan 22, 2024 to Mar 12, 2024
Delivery Options
Instructor Led Online  
Course Fee(s)
Section Details

Time commitment

Throughout this course, participants can expect to spend an average of 4-6 hours/week. Past participants report that they wish they had planned ahead and designated more time to devote to the course. Expect to set aside time throughout each week to participate in pre-recorded presentations, readings, live webinars, and forum discussions to have the full professional development experience.

For optimum participation, use:

  • high speed internet connection to view pre-recorded presentations 
  • a headset/earbuds for webinar and video conference calls

2024 Schedule

January 22 - March 12, 2024. All times listed are Central Time Zone (CT) 

Week 1 - Introductory week: Jan. 22 - 28

  • Video conference call: Intro to cohort group. Thurs., Jan. 25 from 10:30 a.m. - 12 p.m. CT 

Week 2 - Modules 1 & 2:  Jan. 29 - Feb. 4

  • Webinar 1: Thurs., Feb. 1, 10:30 a.m. - 12 p.m. OR Fri., Feb. 2, 10:30 a.m. - 12 p.m. CT

Week 3 - Module 3:  Feb. 5  - 11
Week 4 - Feb. 12 - 18

  • Work Week: Dive deeper and/or catch up.
  • Video conference call: Feb. 14, 10:30 a.m. - 12 p.m. CT

Week 5 - Module 4:  Feb. 19 - 25
Week 6 - Module 5:  Feb. 26 - Mar. 3

  • Webinar 2: Thurs., Feb. 29, 10:30 a.m. - 12 p.m. OR Fri., Mar. 1, 10:30 a.m. - 12 p.m. CT

Week 7 - Module 6:  Mar. 4 - 10

  • Video conference call: Tues., Mar. 5, 10:30 a.m. - 12 p.m. CT
  • Webinar 3: Thurs., Mar. 7, 10:30 a.m. - 12 p.m. OR Fri., Mar. 8, 10:30 a.m. - 12 p.m. CT

(Course will be open to participants through the end of March.)

Synchronized activities: Live video call and webinars

Although the majority of the content in the course can be completed on your own time, there are three live webinars and three video calls. We encourage you to put those dates and times on your calendar now so you can participate in these with your cohort. Attendance in person is strongly recommended, but all webinars will be recorded, in case you need to miss one. Video calls are not recorded.

Video calls

Video call #1: Thurs., January 25 from 10:30 - 12 p.m. (CT)
Video call #2: Wed., Feb. 14 from 10:30 - 12 p.m. (CT)
Video call #3: Tues., Mar. 5 from 10:30 - 12 p.m. (CT)


In order to accommodate most participants' schedules, each of the three webinars will be offered live on two different dates. You may attend one or the other—you need not attend both dates. Each webinar takes place from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Central Time

 Webinar #1: Thurs., Feb. 1 or Fri., Feb. 2
 Webinar #2: Thurs., Feb. 29 or Fri., Mar. 1
 Webinar #3:  Thurs., Mar. 7 or Fri., Mar. 8

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