The Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum becomes Nevada’s First Certified Service Enterprise

Stephanie D’Arcy and Valerie Gillette, of the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum, jumped for joy as they accepted the Service Enterprise Certification from Nevada Volunteers on March 28, 2016. They are the first certified Service Enterprise (SE) in the state of Nevada and among only 210 nationwide. A week before receiving the certification, Mat Sinclair the Executive Director, Stephanie D’Arcy, the Visitor Services Director, and Valerie Gillette, the Volunteer Coordinator, sat around their conference table with the SE Certification team from Nevada Volunteers and discussed all they accomplished in the past eleven months since they began the SE process. The Discovery Museum staff made huge strides in incorporating volunteers at all levels of the organization and embedding the change into their culture.

Valerie Gillette (left) and Stephanie D'Arcy (right) accepting the Service Enterprise certification
Valerie Gillette (left) and Stephanie D’Arcy (right) accepting the Service Enterprise certification

The Discovery Museum began their Service Enterprise journey last spring and as a result of the Service Enterprise process, incorporated new SE strategies into their volunteer program and organization. They refined the process for bringing volunteers into the organization and supporting them throughout their time at the museum. They added information to the volunteer handbook and expanded and improved the volunteer position descriptions. Because of the new strategies, the Discovery was able to recruit more skilled volunteers and find volunteers that fit the roles they needed.

Service Enterprise strategies were incorporated in the Discovery Museum’s training programs. Volunteer training programs were improved and volunteers are invited to all trainings offered by the Discovery Museum, including staff trainings. Staff and volunteer leaders are trained on how to effectively work with volunteers and learned ways to make volunteers more comfortable during their service. This training built confidence in employees when working with volunteers and changed the organizational culture to a more volunteer-centric and volunteer-friendly culture.

The Discovery Museum had leadership support throughout this process—an essential component to a successful transition. The board was informed monthly of how many volunteer hours were reported and the other changes the SE transformation brought. Mat Sinclair had frequent contact with Stephanie D’Arcy, who was part of the guiding coalition for the SE process and knew all the changes that happened. This contact kept Sinclair in the loop and allowed communication about needs and progress for SE to flow openly.

What is the benefit of all this effort? As Sinclair stated, “We have strengthened relationships with our volunteers, increased retention and buy in, better utilized volunteer skill sets, created a comprehensive training program and improved the overall effectiveness of the program.” “We appreciate the guidance we have received through this program and look forward to our continuous improvement moving forward.” Congratulations to all the hard work and improvements made by staff and volunteers at the Discovery Museum!

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