by Ethan Paquet
The Youth-on-Board Program encourages youth to volunteer in rural regions of PEI. It also assists non-profit/community groups, including municipal administrations, to encourage youth to join volunteer boards.
The program offers an opportunity for up to 40 high school students to become members of active Island boards within a rural region.
“The benefits are two-fold,” says Sonia Dixon, Community Development Officer. “Youth gain direct boardroom experience and education about the roles of non-profits within their community. As well, non-profit organizations gain youth perspectives with new ideas brought to the table, and they find potential long-term volunteers for succession planning.”
Youth are given training on boardroom mechanics, including Robert’s Rules of Order, meeting minutes, and the roles of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Community Development Officers across the Island help the youth succeed by placing them with a rural board that matches their general interests.
“Last year Youth-on-Board began as a pilot project. Due to student demand, we expanded program intake from 20 to 37 students,” says Sonia. “This year, we have expanded further and are accepting up to 40 students.”
Youth-on-Board conducted an exit survey with participants following their initial pilot. “We found that 97 percent of participants would refer a friend to the program if it was offered again and indicated they gained skills that would be transferable to the workplace. All participants said the program increased their knowledge of the non-profit sector and of volunteerism in rural PEI.”
Another survey with the participating boards found that they would all recommend the program to another organization, with 80 percent indicating that Youth-on-Board assisted in building capacity at some level within the organization.
“We were excited to participate in the Youth-on-Board Program, as it allowed us a meaningful way to connect with youth in our community,” says Haley Zavo, Executive Director, King’s Playhouse. “Our youth board members offered valuable insights and an important perspective for our entire organization.”
One youth provides their perspective
Molly Robertson is a student at Montague Regional High School. She volunteered with TCAP Family Aquatics and Fitness Center, a not-for-profit pool, gym and fitness centre in Montague.
“It was an amazing experience. I learned a lot about how much work really goes into non-profit boards and facilities. I really liked my placement because TCAP is a busy spot in Montague so there was always lots to talk about during meetings.”
While she is unsure of her plans after high school, she says Youth-on-Board helped her recognize she would like to become more involved in her community.
“My advice to somebody who is taking the program this year is to ask as many questions as you can and to really pay attention during the meetings, because you do learn a lot,” says Molly.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
about the Youth-on-Board Program and to apply, contact Sonia Dixon, Community Development Officer, Rural and Regional Development, at [email protected] or call 902-838-0618.