New Program Begins in October
“The Mound House is proud to announce that we will soon begin a new Volunteer Certification Training Program,” said Katy Beth Culp, Mound House Educator. “This is the first time we have ever offered such a Certification Program, with seven one-hour sessions that meet twice-a-week over a three-week period, with each class focusing on a different topic to help you to become a better volunteer, with interpretive information you can pass along to all the visitors and groups who visit the Mound House, to provide our guests with insights and accurately answer all questions. The Mound House is a topnotch historical attraction, and we want to ensure our volunteers provide that same type of quality experience.”
“The Volunteer Certification Training Sessions are the first four Thursdays and first three Fridays in October,” added Dexter Norris, the Environmental Education Manager. “Thursday classes are October 3, 10, 17, & 24 from 2 to 3 p.m., while Friday programs on October 4, 11, & 18 from 9 to 10 a.m. These will focus on topics like archaeology, interpretation, natural and contemporary history, guest services, native plants and wildlife, and more, with the initial October 3 program being ‘Mound House 101!’ Each class will have one overarching topic, with one or two side subjects thrown in. Experts will teach some sessions, like Bill and Susan Grace, who will examine the history of the house because their descendants were former owners, but Katy Beth and I will instruct most of them.”
Definitely Need More
The two educators explained that the Mound House has a core of roughly 25 volunteers, ranging from museum docents to those who assist on kayak and nature programs, to helping out with special events, “but we definitely need more,” Dexter related. “One area in particular is to assist with school field trips, to interact directly with the kiddos. We would also like to conduct more Mound House programs out in the community rather than inside and around the museum complex, so this is a great opportunity to ‘travel abroad,’ so to speak! To volunteer with us, all you have to do is come in, fill out an application, then go to Town Hall to initiate the background check process. There is no volunteer fee and the Town covers the cost of the background check, so if you are new and want to join the October training sessions, start this process ASAP!”
“As we move forward at the Mound House, all our volunteers will eventually complete all seven sessions,” explained Katy Beth. “Following that, you must pass an assessment to earn your certification, so it is a process. That is why we encourage our current volunteers to attend the October 3 through 24 sessions, with newer volunteers perhaps waiting until we reoffer the program in January 2020, most likely on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and probably one more time yet before the end of this upcoming season. Not only will our longtime volunteers learn new skills and build up their knowledge to help them help us, but we can get feedback from them while clearing out the cobwebs on certain topics and questions!” “We realize that attending seven one-hour classes within three weeks is time-consuming,” added Dexter, “so there is no clock on the Certification process. The sessions you cannot make in October, you can attend in January or later, as we don’t want this to be something you must do but want to do!”
National Register Celebrations
Katy Beth only sees the need for more volunteers increasing. “Now that the Mound House is on the National Register of Historic Places, we know this will grow our attendance. A great way to start is to help us prepare to celebrate the National Register achievement with events we have on Thursday, November 14, and Saturday, November 16, as we want those to be huge successes. We are thrilled about this awesome recognition and want to share every aspect of that with our community through these upcoming celebrations.”
“I for one, am very excited to start the Volunteer Certification Training Program,” continued Dexter. “I just returned from earning my own Certified Interpretive Trainer accreditation, on top of my previous Certified Interpretive Guide designation, so I understand first-hand how great it is to have more tools in your toolbox, to further what we do here at the Mound House and make our visitor experience even more special, so I can’t wait to pass along what I now know to our volunteers, so they can pass it along to others, as that is the best way to advance the goals of the Mound House and take what we already do to a higher level.” “It is our next big step in furthering the Mound House’s standard of excellence,’ agreed Katy Beth.
While the Volunteer Certification Training Program is free, Katy Beth and Dexter ask that you register by Tuesday, October 1, at either firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Anyone with any questions about the training program can email them as well. “Establishing a Certified Volunteer Training Program has been a long-time Mound House goal,” Dexter shared. “It is our next logical step and we are eager to finally see it come to fruition.”
The Mound House, at 451 Connecticut Street, is the oldest standing structure on Estero Island and now on the National Register of Historic Places. The Town of Fort Myers Beach operates the Mound House as a museum complex that offers numerous educational programs each month, including guided tours to explore the 2,000-year-old Calusa Indian Shell Mound and Museum, beach walks and kayak eco-tours. Admission is $10 for ages 13 & up, $8 for students with IDs, $5 ages 6 to 12, and 5 & under free, with Town residents receiving a 50% discount. It is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with additional days in season. For more information and a program schedule, call 239-765-0865 or visit www.moundhouse.org.
By Gary Mooney