Volunteers play a big role in all aspects of the museum. They help manage the collection, create and assist with education programs and exhibits, and are advocates for the museum and its mission. This year alone 20 plus volunteers have contributed over 1,000 hours of service, making the museum a strong and vibrant organization. Their stories illustrate the many ways you can be a part of our team.
Most Thursdays at the museum you can find our team of volunteers working on cataloging and caring for our growing collection of artifacts. The core of the team is Anna Bowers, Bobby Jo Kellogg, and Karen Mencel who have a set time each week to volunteer. Their dedication is impressive, with Anna clocking 785 hours since 2014, Karen working 960 hours since 2011, and Bobby Jo 350 hours since 2013. They have become well versed in using the museum’s computer database to manage the collection which records data including where the artifacts are stored, who donated them and what historical significance they hold. This lively group of volunteers has evaluated and clarified the standards in our collection policy. In addition, they help train other volunteers to ensure these standards are upheld. You can often find them discussing ideas to improve storage, professional practices they’d like to adopt, or enjoying a lunch break together.
A number of college students volunteer each semester, some for their entire tenure at WIU. While they gain professional skills and learn about museum practices, they bring an enthusiasm that is invaluable. This past year two students from the History Department, David Heusel and Danny Williams, have helped with collection management and exhibit installation. Katie Dossett is the first student to volunteer from the Instructional Design and Technology Department. She put her course work into practice to create educational programs for school groups, General Macomb’s Birthday Party, and a hands on children’s activity to accompany our upcoming exhibit.
Often groups or clubs offer their services. They have assisted with collection work, moved artifacts, and have even done construction work like removing old flooring or insulation. Volunteering in a group can be an excellent way to accomplish a project efficiently and see the immediate impact of the group’s efforts.
We are often asked about how young people can get involved. Parent and child team volunteering is one option for younger people to learn about the spirit of service and local history. Masha Grigortsuk began volunteering in 2014 when she was in high school. She has offered nearly 400 hours of service during the summer and other breaks. Always willing to help with whatever needs to be done, she bring a fresh outlook and compelling ideas to our work. This summer we welcomed our youngest volunteer who is entering eighth grade. He is well underway helping catalog our postcard collection. There is always something to help with at the museum and all ages are welcome.
Docents play a key role in ensuring guests have an enjoyable visit and the artifacts on display are secure. Peggy Carlile, Alice Davenport and Jeff Holtz are our dedicated Saturday Docents who typically take shifts from either 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, or 1:00 to 4:00 pm. This volunteer opportunity is an enjoyable way to meet people, and share our region’s history. We are always looking for more people to help as docents and if you are interested in helping you can sign up online!
All our volunteers are offered training to compliment the skills they bring to the museum. Often someone’s experiences provide new insights to improve the museum’s operations or programs. Those interested in becoming a part of our volunteer team can contact the museum to arrange a meeting to discuss what is currently available. Or join us for the Volunteer Cookout on Friday, August 19 at noon. For more information, contact the museum at 309.837.2750 or firstname.lastname@example.org.