“Up with the sun and never done,” is Carolyn Mackintosh’s personal motto. Mackintosh is one of the founders of the United States Eventing Association’s (USEA) Volunteer Incentive Program (VIP), a pioneer for the Eventing Volunteers app, owner of Loch Moy Farm, and organizer for every show at her farm including the Maryland Horse Trials (MDHT), combined tests, dressage and schooling shows, and the Twilight Eventing series. With a jam-packed schedule, she finds comfort in knowing her volunteers are happy and feel appreciated with the help of the USEA’s VIP Program.
So, what is the number one problem Mackintosh has faced while using EventingVolunteers.com? Too many volunteers signing up for her shows. Yes, that’s right – she has so many volunteers that it has started to become a (good) problem.
Year after year Mackintosh takes care of her volunteers by offering “breakfast, lunch, and an after-event dinner party at every [show]. We also give MDHT logo wear and hold gift card raffles during the day of each event. Also, this year we are offering a free [World Equestrian Games] Eventing Ticket along with a place to stay that will be raffled off for our top 20 volunteers as of August 1, 2018. This will be determined by the number of hours volunteered at all MDHT events along with one day volunteered at each of our two USEA recognized events in July.”
The Maryland Horse Trials at Loch Moy Farm. MDHT Eventing Volunteers webpage.
Free food, apparel, gift cards, and a chance to win a trip to the World Equestrian Games; Mackintosh definitely understands the importance of volunteer happiness. “[EventingVolunteers.com] gives the volunteers a stake in the game. They love to check in/check out at events and look at the leaderboards. And when you throw in contests, such as the WEG tickets or other great prizes, participation definitely goes up,” said Mackintosh.
“Cumbersome and not very user friendly,” were the words used to describe her previous volunteer management system. “We used [to use] Signup Genius. However, it didn't even come close to what the EventingVolunteers.com system does.”
So, what exactly does the app do to make it so special? “The whole point of the [Volunteer Incentive] Program from the start has been to give volunteers recognition for the amount of time and work they give to every event. [The Eventing Volunteers app] makes it easy and allows volunteers to sign up for as many events as they choose at one time. They are acknowledged for their contributions through the Area and National leaderboards. And hopefully, personally and individually thanked by the organizer and the competitors at every event.”
Volunteer Coordinator Gena Cindric (center) at The Maryland Horse Trials. Photo courtesy of the Loch Moy Farm Facebook page.
Gena Cindric, the volunteer coordinator and Mackintosh’s right hand [wo]man, has a significant influence on the strong following Loch Moy Farm has earned over the years. “My volunteer coordinator, Gena Cindric, made sure she was available at all times to anyone who needed help with signing up or any other questions they had. The volunteers love Gena!”
One volunteer in particular has spent many hours working with Cindric and Mackintosh, and that’s the 2018 USEA Volunteer of the Year, Michael Smallwood. “Mike is such an integral part to running our events here at MDHT. He works very hard and long hours to make sure our events are safe and can help with any type of issue that comes up. He also branched out to many other events last year such as Morven, Seneca, and even drove to Ocala. He is the definition of a great volunteer!”
Hesitant to jump on the VIP bandwagon? Mackintosh has a few tips for the reluctant show organizers. “I say to just try it. But don't use it along with Signup Genius or your old system. We started this program three years ago and we were one of the original test sites. I told my volunteer coordinator to forget everything she was doing and to go full force with EventingVolunteers.com. [Now] we've never had such a great system to keep track of volunteers!”
What does this show organizer extraordinaire do in her free time? She’s dedicated to research and always looking for ways to improve her already successful string of shows. “[I enjoy] going to events everywhere to see how organizers run their events. I went to Heart of the Carolinas to see the Classic Series Three-Day run in South Carolina to get ready for our Beginner Novice Three-Day coming up in October. I’m going to the Luhmuhlen CCI4* in a couple of weeks. I like to see how events are run and talk to volunteers and get their feedback.”
Her work never stops, as she admits she’s a huge fan of daylight savings time. “I am usually driving around and checking up on everything all day long! I do tend to answer emails in the middle of the night.” Mackintosh said with a smile.
“Thank a volunteer,” is the sign off Mackintosh uses, and it’s a reminder that eventing wouldn’t be possible without volunteers, aka the unsung heroes of the sport.
About the Volunteer Incentive Program
In efforts to recognize the dedication, commitment, and hard work that volunteers put into eventing, USEA formed the Volunteer Incentive Program (VIP) in 2015. In 2017, an online management portal was designed for volunteers, organizers, and coordinators at EventingVolunteers.com (available as an app for iOS and Android).Volunteer incentives include national and area recognition, year-end awards with ribbons, cash prizes, trophies, a top ten USEA Volunteer leaderboard, and a Volunteer of the Year award which is given to the volunteer who accumulates the most volunteer hours over the USEA competition year. Click here to learn more about the USEA Volunteer Incentive Program.
The USEA would like to thank Sunsprite Warmbloods for sponsoring the Volunteer Incentive Program.
The USEA Future Event Horse (FEH) Championships are being held over the next two weeks. First, the West Coast Championships will be held at Twin Rivers Ranch in Paso Robles, California today on Thursday, September 19.
Following a hugely successful debut in June 2019 at the Bromont Three-Day Event, the MARS Bromont Rising Program will be offered at the Ocala Jockey Club International Three-Day Event, November 14-17, 2019.
Nestled in the hills of Chester County, Pennsylvania, The “Best. Event. Ever!” also known as Plantation Field International is celebrating 12 years this year. Competition gets underway bright and early tomorrow morning with dressage for the CCI3*-S and CCI2*-S A division. The CCI4*-S and CCI2*-S B division will perform dressage on Friday.