Author Topic: How can we attract younger volunteers, like high schoolers?  (Read 1955 times)

Ed Lecuyer

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How can we attract younger volunteers, like high schoolers?
« on: December 13, 2008, 05:31:08 PM »
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How can we attract younger volunteers, like high schoolers? has been converted from the pre-July 2008 WW&F Discussion Forum.
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Joe Fox wrote:
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Brian Murphy,

Me and you are the only two high school students who work down at the museum, well with the exception of the one from Phillips, but what do you think we can do to get other students to help us out?
_________________
“We are extremely proud of our collection of historical railroad equipment, which is the largest of any U. S. railroad, especially our steam locomotives.”
-Steve Lee-

Joe

Stephen Hussar replied:
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Ya know, with computers and all I don't think there's anything to worry about. If they're interested, they'll find us. When I was a kid the only way to know about these things was word of mouth, or getting in the car with my dad and visiting a place in person. Usually, wherever we went, we'd hear about other things going on in other places and that's how we'd plan our next trip...

You kids today have it EASY! 
_________________
*                *                    *                   *
"Give me enough Swedes and whiskey and I'll build a railroad to Hell."
- James J. Hill

James Patten replied:
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We should note that we had a 20 or so students from Wiscasset High there for Halloween.  However none of them have returned to volunteer.

I wonder - did we make it clear to them that they were welcome to volunteer if they were interested?

I also wonder if only the Student Council was involved or did they let the entire school know that they could participate?

I think between sports, part-time jobs, homework, and other extra-curricular activities students have no time to add something else into the mix.

pockets replied:
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Joe,
Remembering WAY back to my high school days, The first thing would be to get  that engine into a mini-skirt.....Seriously, you're competing with cars, video games and the reality that railroading is WORK. You guys are very fortunate to have had adults who cared and provided guidance. Not everyone does.

Greg B.

TravisMS replied:
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Well, I'm not quite a kid (29), but I'm planning on becoming a volunteer.  I'm really interested in working on the restoration of the actual railroad (track, etc.), and am looking forward to getting some more info!

Travis

James Patten replied:
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Hi Travis,

This time of year we work mainly on Saturdays.  If you're at all mechanically inclined, you'd be a welcome addition to the machine shop.  Otherwise most everyone else is out cutting trees on the right of way, clearing the way for the track, eventually.

Track work won't start until April because of frost, unless it warms up early in March.  There's always plenty of track work to do, as well as work on car maintenance, engine maintenance, and buildings.

TravisMS replied:
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Hi James,

Thanks for the info - just got some from Allan Fisher as well!  I'm definitely interested, and though I don't have a lot of experience in a machine shop, I'm familiar with them and certainly mechanically inclined.  And building, maintenance, trackwork, etc. are all fine too.  I'm looking forward to helping and learning (I'd really like to have my own 7.25" to 10.25" gauge railroad someday, so all the better).

Unfortunately, I have a house lot that I need to clear on the weekends before I can move on to the railroad project, but as soon as that's done, I'll be ready (and now I have even more incentive to get it finished that much faster)!

Travis

James Patten replied:
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Hey, perhaps we should all pitch in with helping to clear out your property so we can get you to the railroad faster 

Josh Botting replied:
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It was not that awful long ago that I was one of those Highschool students....  and I think I agree with pockets......

I believe that many highschools have a comunity service requirement, Joe?, or the Wiscassett highschool kids, I think that was part of their reason for helping?  Anyway If we had contacts with in the school, than we could organize within the schools.  While this is not likeley to spawn an influx of youth life time members, it would likeley get a few interested people.

Josh Botting replied:
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Furter to that, along the lines from what Joe has said, I have noted that there are fewer younger people involved in the organization.  As in people outside of highschool.  What is really needed are more local's, no offense to most of you who are not, but locals, who can come out for a bit here, and a bit there.  It amazes me to be out in the local community, and realize how few people are aware of there even being a RR WAY OUT in Alna, let alone what it is all about.

I think the dissconnect is lies in the education.  History is less important now, even more so than when I was in school (wow, almost 10 yrs out must be joining the older group soon, I don't want to think about that).  I think we may want to persue visiting schools, and teaching children so that some where down the road they may at least be aware of what goes on.  I think this has been partially covered under a differant topic.  Also, children have parents......  and parents can become interested as well  (Mike) and suckered into visiting as well......

Anyway after all this rambeling, this will of course take voulenteers time.  You know of course in the ideal world we all have this time, but in the real world, it never seems to work out.  Of course I would have lots more time, if once we have finished clearing the lot, we stop by my house and finish my work off....

Steam replied:
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The last couple of semi-annual Work Weekends, we've brought a young friend of ours who is very into railroading. He just turned 14 this month. Ever since we "indoctrinated" him by loaning hime a copy of Moody's "The Maine Two-Footers", he's really crazy about the whole two foot thing.  He's been taken to Phillips as well, and Monson too.  Can't get enough of it. Unfortunately he lives "down here" in the northeastern Mass. area, so can't get up to Sheepscot except for a couple times a year with us. We definitely need more kids like him.  He most recently scratch built a diorama for us in 0n2 to display some 2 ft. models we have on display at the Collection in Beverly.

Richard Symmes

Mike Fox replied:
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Josh,
No suckering here. I was well into it before Joe was. I introduced him to narrow gauge before he knew how to walk. Video tapes were a great wonder. He just motivated me to find the time. Now instead of finding time to go to the museum, I have to find time to do what needs to be done at home.
Mike

James Patten replied:
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Not to volunteer anyone, but there are several northeastern Mass volunteers who either come up just for 1 night or come up early in the morning for the day.  Depending on his location, it may not be that far out of the way for them to pick him up.

And, regarding what Josh said, that too has been addressed by the Long Range Plan.  We need an educator who wouldn't mind putting a generic curriculum together which would involve the railroad, which could be taken to local schools and given to the teachers who could work it into their curriculum.  There's also grants out there which I think would pay for our expenses during the period of the education.

pockets replied:
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Just a thought;
Has anyone thought of contacting the area schools and offered to host class trips, to the museum? Scouting groups, church groups or 4H. You have a budding machine shop. Is anyone qualified to instruct? Any of the above could, potentially, generate interest. Hosting company picnics also works. There you get the age spectrum and discretionary income. They also pay well for the use of the facility. The club I belong to gets $100.00 an hour, just for birthday parties.

Greg B

Joe Fox replied:
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I know this is off topic but,
Speaking of the old video tapes of narrow gauge railroads, one of the first tapes that I ever watched was of the Cumbres & Toltec, what a great video, a lot of wheel slips, since they had 9 cars on icy rails, with only one engine on the 3% grade.

Talk to you guys later.
_________________
“We are extremely proud of our collection of historical railroad equipment, which is the largest of any U. S. railroad, especially our steam locomotives.”
-Steve Lee-

Joe

Josh Botting replied:
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I think it would be a bit risy to teach machine shop, in our shop, for both materials, and equipment, as well as the liability.

James,  If I ever get caught up again, I would be happy to assist organizing the a program.

Also I think more events which can involve the public  would bring more local people in.

Dave Buczkowski replied:
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All;
Getting back to James' mention of a northeastern Massachusetts group, the Narrow Gauge Express will be leaving Lexington, MA at about 4:55 A.M. on February 24, 2007. Our route will be up Route 128 (I-95). I'm sure we could make accomodations if they aren't too far off the beaten path. We will return the same day, same route. Talk is restricted to narrow gauge however.
Dave

Bill Reidy replied:
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All;
Getting back to James' mention of a northeastern Massachusetts group, the Narrow Gauge Express will be leaving Lexington, MA at about 4:55 A.M. on February 24, 2007. Our route will be up Route 128 (I-95). I'm sure we could make accomodations if they aren't too far off the beaten path. We will return the same day, same route. Talk is restricted to narrow gauge however.
Dave

...and beer.  Will we be traveling down Broadway this trip?

Bill Reidy replied:
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Saw the mention of scouts earlier in this thread.  If we consider scouting events, I'd suggest including events for cub scouts (younger boys).  A visit to the museum might make a bigger impression to a younger crowd, so when they're older some might be more likely to join the museum.

Bill

Steam replied:
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I recall at one of the semi-annual Work Weekends there was a group of teenage kids (boys AND girls) who were Young Marines (Jr. MCROTC?). They pitched in and did some heavy work that day. Have they been back since?  If so, I'm not aware of it.  Anyone know their present status?

Richard Symmes

Dave Buczkowski replied:
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Bill;
You mean Hollywood Boulevard. And, yes, of course the Narrow Gauge Express will make a late afternoon stop at the brewery! It's always on the official schedule.
Dave

James Patten replied:
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So that's why you guys like to come up so much - you make a side trip to a brewery!  At least you make the stop afterwards....

Yes we did have a group of Young Marines a few years ago.  They were there in the summer as well as the work weekend.  Fred was the contact with them and I think they want to come back, but haven't been able to.

Richard, Feb 24 is scheduled to be a #9 work day, so your young friend might like that if he wants to catch the Express that day.

ETSRRCo replied:
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Well I know its not much help but if I lived closer I would be up every weekend. I cant get enough of this stuff. Just got my fireman's license at the New Hope & Ivyland Railroad in Pa and I'll be coming up in the spring. I'm only 18 turning 19 in Sept and I have been volunteering at railroad museums since I was 13 years old. I have spent probable well over 2000 hours at NJMT and countless more hours in other railroad related activities in those six years. I wouldnt take back a single one of them.

-Eric
_________________
Eric Bolton
East Tigard & Southern Railroad Co 1889-1958

James Patten replied:
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Thinking back to scouts, I believe scouts have a railroad badge that they can get.  When we were writing the Long Range Plan we looked into what they asked for, and we could provide several aspects of the badge.  I don't recall now what exactly they wanted, but I think there was something about hand signals and rulebooks (among many other things).  So get those scouts while they're young.

We just need somebody who wants to and has the time to contact local scout groups and coordinate with them.

Dave Buczkowski replied:
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James;
The beer is our reward for a hard days work. And only in moderation.
I remember looking into the merit badge issue. Curiously there wasn't much that really related to what we do. Much of it involved model railroading as I'm sure opportuinties like ours don't exist nationally as modeling does. I'm sure the Boy Scouts could fit their badge requirements around working and learning at a real railroad. Eagle Scouts have to do a community project that involves supervision of others and complete responsibility for completion. I'm sure we have many small projects that would lend themselves to a Scout earning his Eagle badge. A small building for tool storage, landscaping, interpretive signs or the aforesaid Powerpoint come to mind. Perhaps we should contact the area Scout organizations. And don't forget Girl Scouts (they come with cookies at this time of year...)
Dave

Steam replied:
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James,

About the #9 work day on the 24th:  Is there something that an eager (but not too experienced)14 year old  boy could do to really help out without getting in the way?

I think we could arrange to get him up there if there is.  He is a "quick study", and knows quite a bit of the history concerning the locomotive.  He is building a backyard 1-1/2" scale railroad behind his home in Beverly.  And he's learning to machine a pair of trucks on a lathe, so he can have a riding car this spring.

Let me know what you think he could realisticly do on the #9 project.

Thanks!

Richard

James Patten replied:
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We should be disassembling the forward frame section at the end of February.

If he can wield a wrench, or doesn't mind cleaning things (ie, getting hands oily-dirty), or doesn't mind hauling parts and pieces upstairs, he'll be a welcome addition.

Bill Sample replied:
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At the RMNE we have had scout assistance (including Girls Scouts) several times through the years.  The key to success is getting some one interested in coordinating things.  To locate nearby scout troops try going through the district offices.  Although our scout experiences have been only occasional we have picked up several long term members in this way.
We have had help with landscaping, cleanup, paint surface preparation and painting.  We also gave railroad merit badge instruction.  My hope is to develop a permanent campsite for general scout use,  near our shop area so that we access to some of the projects would be convenient.
I see a lot of opportunity along the WW&F line for what we used to call (in the 60s) "soil and water conservation" projects.  Digging out ditches, building small retaining walls, etc.
On a slightly different subject , someone in England once told me that some of the heritage railway lines over there try to first get young women to volunteer, figuring that would then attract the young men to their properties!

Dave Buczkowski replied:
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Bill;
One problem with young women might be the leering old men but I'm willing to try and see how it goes... My wife already thinks I must have a girlfriend in Alna because I always seem to want to be up there.
Dave

Wayne Laepple replied:
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You have to wear suglasses and learn to keep your mouth closed while leering, Dave.

Dave Buczkowski replied:
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I will learn at the knee of the Master. I await further sage advise from the Leering Learned One.

gordon cook replied:
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The only leering that I've noticed at the museum is the usual fawning over some rusty junk!
Ah yes-s-s-s! Rust Lust!!
That's almost as sad as the 'no balls on the masthead' line of Dana's.

Wayne Laepple replied:
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Proof of the validity of my technique, Dave.

Joe Fox replied:
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How young are we talking for the women? Cause I am sure if you get some teenage girls at the museum I might work a little harder to show off, and then talk to them for a while, and probably not get back to work.

Most high schools are requiring that students do community service, after all that is how I got started, but I am talking about the students and young guys that don't know about the museum at all. For example, here in Oxford County, I can assure you guys that only people related to me know about the museum, with the exception of Brad.
_________________
“We are extremely proud of our collection of historical railroad equipment, which is the largest of any U. S. railroad, especially our steam locomotives.”
-Steve Lee-

Joe

Bill Sample replied:
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Joe, do the high schools have any lists of suggested community service projects?  If they do, getting the WW&F listed would be a good first step.

dwight winkley replied:
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Sorry to report that the Young Marines that worked at the museum has disbanded. Due to wars, parents aren't letting there kids join.

dwight

Steam replied:
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Sorry to hear that the Young Marines were disbanded.  Our local high school JrROTC program is constantly under attack and threatened with elimination by the "peaceniks". Same with the Boy Scouts...too "military".  Maybe instead, the ACLU should form a "Jr. Auxiliary" and send them out to do good deeds in their communities in place of the Young Marines, Boy Scouts and other traditional organizations they are always criticizing!  Yeah... that'll be the day!

Richard Symmes

TravisMS replied:
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What about local highschool vocational programs?  Not sure if any of the work at this point would apply to vocational programs, but it couldn't hurt to look into it.

Josh Botting replied:
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I spoke with my Boss today.  He knows the leader of the boyscouts in Bath, and Damarascotta.  If we decide we want to set something up, it would need a solid commitment from our voulenteers to support.

Let me know.
Ed Lecuyer
Moderator, WW&F Forum