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Lake County Forest Preserves | Preservation, Restoration, Education and Recreation

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Volunteer faq


Questions & Answers

Q: What is a Volunteer?

A volunteer is a person who contributes services for which there is no financial compensation. Services are to be given on a regular, scheduled basis under the supervision of a staff member.

Though financial compensation is not given, volunteer work should be considered similar to a part-time job in terms of the level of commitment, effort and interest expected. Service as a volunteer, however, does not imply any connection with potential future employment with the Forest Preserve District.

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Q: Orientation and Training

Volunteers receive a general orientation to the Lake County Forest Preserve District and training for their specific work. Volunteers are responsible for learning the information covered at all orientation sessions.

The length and amount of training varies for each job. At this time, volunteers may receive a vehicle sticker and other District-issued items specific to the job. Volunteers are expected to attend required training sessions prior to performing their job duties.

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Q: Performance Evaluation

Depending on the position, your performance may be observed, especially if it involves providing educational programs. If the performance fails to meet acceptable standards, or if services are no longer required, volunteers may be released of their responsibilities.

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Q: Required Forms

The following forms are required from all volunteers:

Background checks are required for most new volunteers. Similar background checks are required of Forest Preserve staff. Background checks have become the professional standard for anyone that handles money or may have contact with children in our programs, facilities and conservation activities.

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Q: Scheduling Commitments

Most positions require a minimum time commitment which is listed in the job description. If a volunteer cannot meet a scheduled commitment, one week’s notice should be given. It is important for volunteers to make every effort to meet scheduled commitments.

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Q: Recording Volunteer Hours

Maintaining an accurate record of volunteer hours is important to us as your time shows community support of our organization, and can be used in obtaining grants and donations for the Forest Preserves. We collect volunteer hours on a quarterly basis.

Be sure to include orientation and training hours but not driving time. Volunteer hours are tabulated on a quarterly basis and conveyed to the Lake County Forest Preserve District Board of Commissioners. Please be accurate and prompt with reporting your hours.

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Q: Inactivity and Departure

If a volunteer is inactive (no hours reported) for one year, the volunteer coordinator may review the status and based on the job description remove the volunteer from the position.

If a volunteer must terminate their service, the volunteer coordinator should be promptly notified.

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Q: Code of Conduct

As representatives of the Lake County Forest Preserve District, volunteers are trusted to be polite, helpful and informative when in contact with the public. They should be familiar with their job description and follow its guidelines. Volunteers should promote the Forest Preserve’s goals of education, restoration, preservation and recreation. They should encourage visitors to support the Forest Preserves by following policies. In general, they strive to leave visitors with a good feeling about Lake County Forest Preserves, its philosophies and with a desire to visit again.

Visitors who want to report an incident or accident that occurred in the Preserve may approach a volunteer. At no time should a volunteer make a statement of admission. The visitor should be directed to Ranger Police or Risk Management.

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Q: Dress Code

Check your volunteer job description for job specific uniform requirements.

While clothing requirements for each volunteer position vary, some positions require that a volunteer nametag be worn at all times while volunteering. Nametags are provided.

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Q: Protection of the Preserves

Volunteers, like the staff and visitors, are expected to follow the rules protecting the Lake County Forest Preserves that are outlined in the District’s regulations, brochures and signs. Lake County Forest Preserve District Rules and Regulation.

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Q: Restriction of Political Activities

District volunteers shall not engage in any political activities while representing the District. District volunteers shall not use their positions to solicit contributions or any other support for partisan political activities.

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Q: Use of District Property and Facilities

District equipment, supplies or tools shall be used only for the purposes of conducting District business and projects. Volunteers must promptly inform the volunteer coordinator of any safety concerns or needed repairs. Employees will be responsible for the care and conservation of District equipment, supplies or tools and shall report promptly accidents, breakdowns or malfunctions so prompt repairs can be made.

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Q: Contributions and Expenses

Reimbursable Expenses

The District may reimburse approved purchases made to complete volunteer tasks. Purchases must have prior approval from the volunteer coordinator and receipts must be provided.

IRS Charitable Contributions

Contact the Internal Revenue Service for details on eligibility and record keeping for potential deductions. Volunteers may be able to deduct the cost and upkeep of uniforms that are not suitable for everyday use, but that must be worn while volunteering. Volunteers may also deduct actual car expenses, such as expenditures for gas, oil and tolls. General repair and maintenance expenses may not be deductible, nor are depreciation or insurance expenses. In the past, volunteer hour record sheets could be used in support of tax deduction claims. Keep track of your hours.

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Q: Recognition

We recognize volunteers through a variety of means, which may include years of service pins, gifts, recognition events and occasional social gatherings. Volunteers with twenty years of service are recognized at a fall Lake County Forest Preserve Board of Commissioners meeting.

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Q: Volunteer Insurance

Volunteers are covered by the Park District Risk Management Agency (PDRMA), an intergovernmental membership organization which provides for the risk management needs of our agency. If you have any questions about this subject matter, don’t hesitate to call the volunteer coordinator.

Are volunteers covered by the District’s Liability Policy? Volunteers are afforded the same liability protection through PDRMA as are District employees. In order for that coverage to apply, volunteers must be acting within the scope of their authorized volunteer duties outlined on the job description.

Are volunteers covered under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation statutes? The Illinois Supreme Court ruled that persons not receiving pay for their services are not employees within the meaning of the Workers’ Compensation Act and are therefore not covered.

What if a volunteer is injured while performing volunteer duties outlined on the Volunteer Job Description? The claim should first be processed through any health insurance or Medicare coverage the volunteer may have. If you have no insurance or your insurance does not pay all expenses, PDRMA will provide Volunteer Medical Accident Insurance within certain limits.

What coverage is provided by the Volunteer Medical Accident Policy? The policy provides $5,000 in medical expense payments for injuries incurred while the volunteers are performing their volunteer duties. There is no coverage for lost wages from another job. The coverage is in excess over all other insurance the volunteer may have. The volunteer will be required to sign an affidavit attesting to what other insurance they may have, and provide bills and copies of explanations of benefits before this policy will cover any outstanding bills of out-of-pocket expenses.

Am I covered under the Medical Accident Policy? All District volunteers are automatically covered.

How is a claim reported? The District Incident or Accident Report Form should be filled out immediately and reported to:

Lake County Forest Preserves
Risk Management
1899 West Winchester Road
Libertyville, IL 60048
847-968-3242

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Q: Media Communication

Volunteers may answer questions from the media regarding their specific job duties and responsibilities, e.g., a Nature Guide leading a maple syrup program may address information about the maple syrup production process, or a Site Steward may address issues regarding why they are involved in particular land management practices. When feasible, volunteers will be notified in advance that members of the media may show up at their activities.

To provide the most accurate information possible to the media, questions about actions of the Lake County Forest Preserve Board of Commissioners, matters in litigation, land acquisitions, and other subjects designated as warranting special attention should be referred to the Executive Director or Public Affairs office.

When a volunteer is approached by the media regarding a topic they are not authorized or comfortable addressing, they should refer the media representative to the appropriate Director or the Public Affairs office.

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