Evaluation is the ongoing process of determining if individual and organizational goals are being met (Culp, Deppe, Castillo & Wells, 1998).   It is vital that the volunteer understands the role s/he is to perform and the desired goals that are to be met.  Evaluation includes both formal and informal feedback.  One of the most important components of evaluation is the ability to listen, both to the volunteer’s enthusiastic review of a positive experience, as well as to his/her concerns and issues.

Evaluation is a process, and includes supervisory meetings where progress and areas for improvement are discussed. Volunteers who work directly with clientele may have client feedback included in their evaluation.  Volunteer administrators may use workshop evaluations to evaluate the quality and effectiveness of the content and presentation style.

Evaluation is multi-faceted.  It is an opportunity for Extension to critique the volunteer as well as an opportunity for the volunteer to share concerns and suggestions about the Extension, the program and the volunteer’s role in serving the organization and its clientele.

All volunteers serving in leadership or supervisory roles (those leading clubs, certified volunteers, camp, etc.) should undergo an annual evaluation.  This does not have to be formal or time-consuming.  A good first step would be to send each volunteer a self-evaluation, and ask them to reflect upon and complete the evaluation, and return it within two weeks.  If possible, the agent could meet with each volunteer to discuss and review their self-evaluation.

The most desirable and most developmental form of volunteer evaluation is a 360 degree evaluation.  This involves the volunteer, the supervisor (agent) along with everyone involved in the Extension activity (youth, their parents, other volunteers.)  An example of a 360 degree evaluation for volunteers follows.


Evaluations of Volunteers


Any time an incident occurs between an agent/parent/adult or teen volunteer/child or youth (in any combination) it should be documented in writing through an incident report form. The confrontation may be verbal or physical. Documentation is also necessary when there is a major rule violation, regardless of whether or not there is a one-on-one confrontation. Documentation will protect the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, staff, and volunteers should there be a question as to how the situation was handled or if legal action should arise.

Incidents that happen at 4-H camps or at state sponsored events are to be filed with the Department of 4‑H Youth Development Department, or the appropriate state office and Assistant Director.

It is recommended that the staff assistants in the Extension Office be responsible for clipping items from the local newspaper and Extension newsletter, to be added to the respective volunteer file.  Additionally, awards nominations and certification information are all examples of information that should be included in individual volunteer files.

Documenting Behaviors and Actions


Improper Documentation


Proper Documentation

 The volunteer was high and acted weird.

Volunteer could not focus on questions and asked that they be repeated three or four times before providing an illogical response.

Volunteer isn’t committed and just wants an award for 25 years of service.

Volunteer has not turned in club enrollment materials by the county deadline for the last two years.

Volunteer held only two club meetings last year when six were required.

Volunteer did not distribute completion certificates to 4-H members for the last three years.

We heard the volunteer had been investigated by the Cabinet for Families and Children.

The volunteer acknowledged: (1) permitting a 12-year-old member to drive his truck on a public highway while the volunteer shifted gears; (2) participating in inappropriate conversations with 4-H members about sex.

The members are afraid of the volunteer and the volunteer’s threatening attitude.

During the April 10 club meeting, the volunteer yelled at the members to “sit down and shut up.”

The volunteer stated that if members did not help with the service project they would not get their fair passes.

The volunteer is a liar.

After a county committee meeting at which the volunteer was present, the volunteer returned to the club meeting and reported inaccurate information.

Volunteer stated that he/she did turn in the information by the deadline; however, three families stated the information was not collected until after the deadline.


Improper Documentation

Proper Documentation

The volunteer is an uncontrollable dictator.

The volunteer set the meeting schedule without input from 4-H members, parents, other club leaders, or the agent.

The volunteer called a meeting to plan the county horse show.  Upon arrival at the meeting the members and volunteers were informed that the date, facilities, judge, and announcer had all been scheduled; classes had been selected; and show bills were distributed.

The volunteer rescheduled an Extension committee meeting (that the agent canceled) with blatant disregard for authority.

The volunteer rescheduled the meeting without consulting with the Extension professional.

The volunteer uses the club only to promote the volunteer’s kids and to help them earn achievement points.

The leader appointed his/her own children to be club president and secretary even though others wanted to run for office.