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Archive for June, 2011


Lunch and Learns: Getting the Best Bang for Your Buck

Posted by: in Central East

We have all been to a lunch and learn at one point in time. The question is – have you been able to reap all of the benefits you could have?

I know from experience that I will attend a lunch and learn simply because the topic has caught my interest and do not always apply the learning. For example, I attended a session related to public speaking a couple of weeks ago. It was incredibly informative and while I was in attendance I was extremely motivated to take back what I had learned into my professional life. The first short presentation I gave after the session included all of the great tips I had learned. The second presentation, that occurred two weeks later, I failed to include one thing I had learned! Have you ever had a similar experience?

It is funny how so many lunch and learns we attend can be so beneficial yet so underutilized. Last week, I held a second A.S.K. Leadership Assessment workshop in Wetaskiwin. We called this workshop a lunch and learn because we it ran from noon to three and we enjoyed a nice lunch while going through the competency framework to discover our learning priorities to help us better meet each of our organization’s mission. It definitely seemed to me that those in attendance, myself included, benefited from the networking and information learned. The questions are: will the participants and myself, keep in touch with each other and fill our identified learning gaps?  I would most definitely like to believe we will do both of these things. Unfortunately, all good intentions aside, life happens and our memories let good intentions slide. So, the question is how can you get the best bang for your buck when attending an A.S.K. Leadership Assessment Workshop or attending a workshop/seminar/course to fill your identified learning gaps after a workshop?

Here are some tips:
  • Make an organized follow-up plan. For example, if you have taken an A.S.K. Leadership Assessment Workshop go straight to to find match your learning gaps with learning priorities and register for a course! If you cannot find one that interests you contact me or your local RCC and we will find one for you.
  • Follow up with networks as soon as you have time so you do not forget and invite them to have a one-on-one to discuss future work partnership or even friendships.
  • After six months, redo the Leaders Assessment Questionnaire and create a new plan and give yourself a pat on the back. Remember this is about continuous learning – it never stops and is always enlightening. Life would be pretty boring if we already knew everything.
  • Stick to the plan! Mark a reminder in your calendar so you don’t forget.

If you would like help finding learning opportunities in your area that match your need or would like to hold an A.S.K. Leadership Assessment workshop in your area contact me:

Victoria Poschadel | P: 780.945.6134 | E:

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Viva La Volunteer

Posted by: in North West

Volunteer Celbration at the The Guild in Hinton June 20 2011

Putting on my “Volunteer Alberta / KnowledgeConnector  Hat”, I had the honour of attending Hinton’s 11th Annual “Celebrating Volunteerism in the Community” hosted by the Town of Hinton, the VolunteerCenter and FCSS. The theme of this year’s event was an old fashioned picnic “Viva La Volunteer” with all the trimmings including fried chicken, potato salad, and watermelon and local entertainment.

Approximatelly two hundred volunteers attended this event. Each volunteer was asked to register when they arrived and record which organization they were representing, but there was a twist. Each volunteer was asked to write down how many organizations they actually volunteer for and for each one they received a door prize ticket. Many of the them had listed 6 or 7 community organizations they volunteered for.

Many of those volunteers who listed  6 or 7 organizations just  happen to be seniors. When asked why they volunteer the general comment was “once retired they needed to stay busy and really enjoyed contributing or giving back to their community”. Also, I had the opportunity of sitting beside a very nice young man who volunteers as the chairperson of the local boys and girls club, a great example of youth leadership.

It is not the quantity of volunteers that we rely on but the quality of theirs skills and commitment they bring to each and every organization their volunteer for.

If you are hosting a community volunteer appreciation event, please let me know and we will highlight your event on this page.

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Quantity vs. Quality: The Age Old Debate in Relation to Volunteerism

Posted by: in Central East

I was at the Vitalize conference in Edmonton last week and wow was it motivating. Not only did I make some great new networks but I was reminded of the importance of my job as a Regional Capacity Coordinator. Although it is great to be validated it also reminded me that I can always work more efficiently and effectively to do a better job.

One of the most motivating sessions was a debate that questioned volunteerism in Alberta. Karen Lynch, the Executive Director of Volunteer Alberta and the MC for a debate during the final day of Vitalize, really made me (and I am sure everyone else at the conference) wonder whether or not the nonprofit/voluntary sector in Alberta has enough volunteers. Specifically, the debate questioned if we have enough volunteers or if existing volunteers need to be engaged and utilized more efficiently?

An awesome debate that involved 3 mature and experienced individuals opposed by 3 young and strong minded individuals; ensued. The debate became quite heated as the younger folks insisted that until every person in Alberta wants to be engaged or is engaged in volunteerism we will not have enough volunteers. On the mature side of the debate, there were several counter arguments.  For example, it was pointed out that the number of volunteers is always growing but most volunteers do not use their expertise in their volunteer roles resulting in useful skills being under-utilized. There were many other counter arguments on both sides but I was the most surprised when the audience was given the chance to share their stand. By far the group agreed that we need more volunteers. I was particularly surprised because I believed that quality and efficiency is more important.

I stand by my opinion that the 19,000 nonprofit/voluntary organizations (NPVS) in Alberta do have enough volunteers. There are enough bodies – they are just simply not utilized as best as they could be.  The reason I feel passionately about this is because KnowledgeConnector and my role works to help create more efficient leaders. We are not looking at getting more leaders but rather, looking at what they can do to be the leaders they were meant to by supporting them with learning to more effectively work with their volunteers.

A debate like this one most definitely has strong arguments on both sides but I ask you to challenge me. Feel free call, email or post a comment!

I would love to set up a workshop in your community to identify your organization’s learning strengths and gaps and connect you with opportunities to more effectively meet your mission with the movers and shakers that you know you work with.

Victoria Poschadel | P: 780.945.6134 | E:

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Can a tourist destination have a strong sense of volunteerism and community connectedness?

Posted by: in Central East

In a tourist destination, one oes not often think of volunteerism and nonprofit organizations as the heart of the community. When I think of tourism I picture money hungry tourist attraction managers working towards a goal of economic development and not community development. Although this may be the case in some places it is definitely not how I saw Drumheller in my visits there this last couple of weeks.

Whether you are from Drumheller or not I suggest you check out the number of diverse community organizations that diligently work to keep the community strong, educated and connected. I had the opportunity to go to an interagency meeting and discovered that Drumheller offers a lot of learning opportunities that KnowledgeConnector will be promoting!

One new program is through the Equinox Society and it connects professional grant writers to nonprofit organizations at NO COST! Brilliant! This has not yet been formally launched but is in the works to be available in Drumheller and area. To find out more visit the Equinox Society.

The Drumheller and District Further Education Council also keeps the community educated offering courses for nonprofit volunteer leaders that include Business Letter Writing, Accounting and Bookkeeping Essentials and Computer Training. The local library, which is supported by over 30 volunteers, also has great videoconferencing capabilities that bring in members from across the community to learn about everything from Tai Chi to Board Governance.

Clearly Drumheller has a lot to offer besides for tourist attractions. To find out more about the learning opportunities that keep the community so connected contact me at or Karla Desilets, FCSS Coordinator at She is fully up to date and aware of all community happenings!

Also, if you are a learning provider in Alberta, join us on June 28th in a discussion on how to increase interest and registration in courses geared towards leaders of the nonprofit/ voluntary sector by registering at



Rotary in and around Alberta – Get Involved!

Posted by: in North West

Rotary International is the world’s first service club organization, with more than 1.2 million members in 33,000 clubs worldwide. Rotary club members are volunteers who work locally, regionally, and internationally on humanitarian projects; they help combat hunger, improve health and sanitation, provide education and job training, promote peace, and eradicate polio under the motto Service Above Self.

Did you know there are 81 Rotary Clubs in Northern Alberta District #5370, and 54 Rotary clubs in Southern Alberta District #5360?

One of those clubs in the NW Region is the Rotary Club of Grande Cache. This is a dedicated group of community volunteers, have grown their membership to 25 since becoming a newly chaterd service club just three years ago.

In the past three years, the Rotary Club of Grande Cache has given back to their community and championed local causes. Here is just to name a few: ongoing support for the Annual Yellowhead Rotary Arts Festival, Summitview Art Walk, built the Rotary Park at Grande Cache Lake, partnered with SRDC to promote and educate the community on being “bear aware”, participated in the annual Canada Day Parade, supported Bully Free Schools & Community, hosted each year the Rotary Group Exchange (Nigeria, Brazil & Austrailia), fundraised to buy a shelter box, and support the renovation of the local BMX track. It is all about building community partnership to encourgae growth and leadership in the community. Rotary Club of Grande Cahe believes this key to their sustainability.

Grande Cache Lake Rotary Park - Look at what community partnerships can lead to.....

Also, don’t forget that the Northern Rotary District Annual Conference is being hosted in Athabasca, June 16-19 2011. is an online resource for Rural Alberta’s nonprofit and volunteer sector playing a lead role and assisting them in identifying learning and training opportunities that will enhance leadership skills and Rotary International is one of many learning providers theat you will be able to connect with on the KnowledgeConnector webiste. The Rotary Leadership Institute (RLI) was created as a grass roots initiative to help Rotarians build their leadership skills, both in their professional lives and as Rotarians. Go to your Alberta District for further information.

Rotary and Rotarians are active all throughout Alberta around the world. If you’re interested in a club or learn more about Rotary in your region, please look up a Rotary club in your area and contact that club directly. You are more than welcome to join any Rotary Club as a guest at any upcoming meetings.

Please join us. Together, we are making our communities better places to live.

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How To Find Out What You Don’t Know?

Posted by: in Central East

You don’t know what you don’t know.

This seems to be the most relevant statement that is coming to mind upon completion of the A.S.K. Leadership Assessment. It ingeniously brings to light exactly what attitudes, skills and knowledge are missing from a leadership team or individual. I really love that statement because it is so true. When I first completed the assessment I thought I knew what I needed to learn, but I was wrong.

How can you know what you don’t know?

A little over a week ago I held the first A.S.K. Leadership Assessment workshop in Wetaskiwin and Wow was it a success! We had a City Councillor, Library Director, and a number of volunteer leaders in attendance. Also, we were also lucky to have the KnowledgeConnector Project Manager, Toby Rabinovitz, in attendance. Everyone there, myself included, learned of some great professional development opportunities available in the area. The Manager of Library Services has been instrumental in making learning opportunities available in Wetaskiwin and continuously published those opportunities on the Library Pathways website. Not only are great opportunities available through the library, you will also find a number of learning opportunities available on the Wetaskiwin Learning Council website.

If you live in the Wetaskiwin region and would like to find out your learning needs you can attend the next workshop in Wetaskiwin on June 20th from 12-3pm and also get in some great networking. Give me a call to RSVP at 780-945-6134 or email!

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GO Volunteer!

Posted by: in North West

The KnowledgeConnector is all about building community capacity and connecting rural Alberta NPV organizations to training and learning opportunities. In order for a volunteer organization to succeed they rely on dedicated volunteers. Volunteerism is the foundation for the growth and sustainability of any community.

The definition of a volunteer is as a person who works for an organization without being paid, a person who voluntarily offers himself or herself for a service or undertaking, or a person who performs a service willingly and without pay.

The definition of volunteerism is the policy or practice of volunteering ones time or talents for charitable, educational, or other worthwhile activities, especially in ones community.

There are several organizations that support volunteers such as:

  • Volunteer Alberta is Albertas only provincial capacity building organization for the nonprofit/voluntary sector. Working with nonprofit, public and private stakeholders, Volunteer Alberta stands as an expert and key voice for volunteerism and the nonprofit and voluntary sector across Alberta (
  • Volunteer Centres are a source of leadership on local trends and issues affecting volunteerism, they offer access to innovative training opportunities, and they provide valuable resources and tools to support the organizations in their community. The support provided by Volunteer Centres enhances the capacity of all types of nonprofi and voluntary sector organizations. There are currently 29 Volunteer Centres in Alberta, each providing a unique mix of programs and services to support local nonprofit/voluntary organizations.
  • There are two Volunteer Centers in the NW Region; Hinton Volunteer & Information Center 1-780-865-2670 and the Grande Prairie Volunteer Services Bureau 1-780-539-5986.
  • A the local/community level, information on  volunteer services and programs can be found at your Family and Community Support Serves offices (FCSS).
  • National leader in volunteerism, Volunteer Canada. Volunteer Canada actively leads national dialogues on how volunteerism is related to citizen engagement and civil society and provides leadership on issues and trends in the Canadian volunteer movement (

Defining volunteerism is all well and good, but when it comes right down to it; especially in a  time of crisis, tragedy, emergency or a disaster, it is volunteers that answer to the call of duty.

It is at the local or community level where volunteers “soar”.

There is no better example of volunteerism in the NW Region than the volunteers involved in the Slave Lake Fire Evacuation.

Our hats go off to the Slave Lake Volunteer Fire Department, Alberta Red Cross, Slave Lake Emergency Management Team, the Mayor and Council of Slave Lake and to all the individual volunteers (near and far) who gave their time to provide comfort and support to evacuees, maintaining a sense of order in extreme chaos in small town rural Alberta.

It is times like this that brings a community or a province together. Keep up the Good Work – GO VOLUNTEER!

North West Regional Capacity Coordinator

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Celebrating vibrant and festive places in NW Rural Alberta

Posted by: in North West

Did you know that organizations in Alberta report volunteer compliment of 2.5 million people who collectively contribute about 449 million hours of volunteer  time which is equivalent of approximately 234,000 full-time jobs? Also, Alberta Nonprofit/volunteer organizations generate approximately $10 billion in revenues with arts and cultural organizations generating approximatly nine percent of that revenue (stats reported by One of the five pillars of community sustainability is Cultural Diversity. One aspect of Cultural diveristy is festivals and events which promote and ensure sustainability and strengthening communities along with building community capacity and at the same time drawing in other communities and individuals to foster community growth; even if it is for one day or one weekend.

The community groups or organizations planning these events and activities may not necessarily be thinking in these terms but rather in a broad sense of providing entertainment or simply stated as “something to do” which in turn becomes a fundraising activity. Research found that a majority of these community groups or organizations are volunteer driven.

The Demmitt Cultural Society “sustainable and cultural on the borderline” is just one example of a dedicated community volunteer organization in NW Rural Alberta.

This community organization was established on the principles of dancing, live music and having a lot of fun. Still holding these principles dear, they have embarked on merging community roots with their concern for sustainability. To mark this transition they focused on replacing an aging 1980 community hall with one that combined sustainability, architectural beauty and a very good dance floor. Their volunteer 13 person Board of Directors meets once a month, includes people from all walks of life.

This is directly taken from their website ( “On the surface, Demmitt is like any other rural Alberta community: a super mailbox, cattle and an old community hall. Take a closer look and you will also discover a kernel of the future has germinated. If you drive south off Highway 43 on Rural Route 132 you will come across a perfectly crafted forty-foot timber frame covered bridge. This bridge promises to lead to a sustainable future for the rural Peace region communities like Demmitt; it promises to lead to a brand new 6200 square foot sustainable community centre”.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to see how many volunteer hours are recorded leading up to and including the day of this event? Please go online and check out their “Borderline Cultural Activities”.

KnowledgeConnector continues to highlight rural community organizations dedicated to promoting and enhancing community sustainability and believes that growth relies on building leadership, and knowledgeable volunteers creating a passion for learning throughout Rural Alberta.

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Rural Alberta Development Fund Volunteer Alberta
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