Volunteers are the heart of the Kudzu Coalition! February 2005.
Our purpose here is to outline a number of concepts that have been key to our activities thus far. We are learning as we go!
- Have fun. Be ready for the wise guy who, after an hour into a work session asks, "Are we having fun yet?" or "When does this get to be fun?."
- Stop the work sessions before everyone wants to quit. Cease before exhaustion. Two hours seems to be about right.
- Offer doughnuts, cookies, or some other special treat each time. Vegetables from the garden make a nice present for workers. Drinking water is always needed and appreciated.
- Ask for ideas and suggestions. There are many opportunities for improvement. Seek them out. People like to contribute and will if asked.
- Be flexible in the timing of work sessions. We traditionally have had three: Wednesday afternoon, Friday evening after supper (cooler during the summer), and Saturday morning. If a volunteer prefers some other time, we try to accommodate that schedule. Two is enough for an effective work session.
- Try to identify a neighborhood captain to coordinate activities in each particular area of town. A good captain will know where kudzu is a problem, and will be able to roust up three or more willing volunteers for a work session on that neighborhoods' "spot of embarrassment".
- Once a commitment is made to control kudzu at a particular site, it must be done even though the volunteers are few. Failure is not an option. All demonstrations must be a success even if the neighborhood does not provide many volunteers.
- Identify the work sessions as "kudzu parties" to communicate the spirit of the endeavor.
- Ask people to identify the site of the kudzu incursion that most bothers them. In other words, "Where is the ugliest kudzu that you see?" Then add that site to the plan, and go do something about it even if it means biting off a little more than you thought you could do.
- People rarely volunteer if they do not have kudzu on or around their property. They are often blind to the kudzu problems.
- Many, many people are interested in what is being done to control kudzu. While driving past, they stop and ask.
- Most folks think that the work sessions/parties are hard work. True, there is some "heavy lifting" but there is always some light work as well. For example, picking up trash. There is always trash under kudzu.
- Wear highly visible safety vests during the working sessions/parties. These are good for morale, safety, and awareness that something special is going on.
- The best source of volunteers for us has been the current Master Gardeners’ class. In one case, a class member was passionate about controlling kudzu, and her enthusiasm precipitated a dozen or so volunteers.
- A digital camera is a wonderful tool for capturing volunteers in action. Afterwards, they enjoy getting a printed copy, or seeing themselves pictured on this website.
Revised November 2007
An Album of Kudzu Coalition Volunteers
First Photograph: Master Gardner volunteers Dianne Dennis and Barbara Daniels attack the dormant green monster at Glendalyn Ave. in Converse Heights. Second Photograph: Diane in a Fisherman Pose: "Look what I caught!" Trophy-size root crowns hang from large vines. Third Photograph: Jimmy Pruitt, Lorraine Moore, Barbara Daniels, Lindsay Daniels, and Rob Wellborn, working one tall pine on North Pine Street, north of the helicopter pad. Photographs taken in 2005.
First Photograph: Jan Ingerson, Gene Fost, W.C. Bain, David Hendley, and Hilda Nichols, are Woodland Heights neighbors after two hours of kudzu "partying". Second Photograph: Volunteers on South Pine St. clearing dormant vines from under the railroad overpass next to Carolina Garden World, and across the highway from the an early Coalition test site. Third Photograph: Merike Tamm with trophy root crowns at Glendalyn Avee in Converse Heights. Photographs taken in 2005.
First Photograph: Lou Adams and Gill Newberry are ready to stop kudzu encroachment! April 2005. Second Photograph: Cleanup crew. March 2006. Third Photograph: Cornerstone neighbors. August 2006.