Interview with Jamie Shaur, formerly a volunteer coordinator

Imagination Station is a delightful little hands-on children’s museum that specializes in science and technology. It’s special because it is completely run by volunteers. To make this happen, it takes the right kind of person to balance the needs of the museum with the people that work there.

When I first started and up until I left the museum two years later, that role was filled by Jamie Schauer. In the following interview, Schauer shares her insight of being a volunteer coordinator for volunteer-run business.

Grace: Why did you decide to head the volunteers out of all the positions available at IS? 
Jamie Schauer, former Volunteer Coordinator, Imagination Station: In the beginning most of the volunteers that were not Board members were part of a moms group that I was involved in. Because I knew them I guess that I just kind of fell into the position.

A volunteer stays after to answer questions about earth sciences.
A volunteer stays after to answer questions about earth sciences.

Grace: What was the most difficult part of managing us volunteers?
Jamie: The most difficult part of the position in finding the right fit for a volunteer. Sometimes people want to volunteer, but don’t know how they want to contribute.

Grace: What was the most enjoyable part?
Jamie: The most enjoyable part of the position are the people I get to meet and work with.

Grace: What advice can you give people that manage a schedule built around volunteers?
Jamie: It is important to stay organized so that you can express what needs you have and how people can help. Also, don’t be afraid to be persistent. Sometimes when you express a need to the general volunteer base you don’t get the response that you had hoped for. Often people will respond better to a more personal email.

Grace: Would you ever do it again?
Jamie: If I were to ever do this type of position again I would definitely not spread myself so thin. I was on the Board, did purchasing, special events, and general volunteering on top of being the Volunteer Coordinator. It was a bit much for me and my family.

While Jamie is no longer a volunteer coordinator at Imagination Station, you’ll likely still be able to find her kicking back with her family occasionally there while her husband, Doug, teaches at the museum.

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Originally written and published on AAAS Member Central Jan. 2013

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