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  #151   Spotlight this post!  
Unread 09-07-2017, 11:38 PM
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Re: [FRC Blog] Making Volunteering for FIRST Even Better

This move truly puzzles me. I mean, it really, really puzzles me.

I look to the youth for inspiration.

I am a father, a teacher and a mentor. I have a lot to learn still. But I don't mentor (or coach) just to teach. I really believe that my work with my team has not only reinvigorated my love of teaching, I have learned so much about myself as well as how to be a better person from these young people.

I have had the most fortunate position the last number of years as I have watched from a very unique setting. My team/High School has hosted NDSU's Ri3d team - "The GreenHorns" - the last 3 seasons. I have interacted with some of the most inspiring adults (they are - and have proven it) during these times.

And then I get to see them again as Volunteers at the Duluth and MPLS Regionals. Every single one of them that I talk to are incredibly dedicated to their jobs and take it very seriously. For a person that is getting up there in my years, I find them some of the most inspirational folks. And it isn't just limited to Bison Robotics. There are a lot of incredible college students from other schools that also volunteer as well as help mentor teams throughout the FRC.

I hope that FIRST looks to reverse this decision come next season. There are a number of 4607 alum that I would (and do) trust in many situations. Do they need guidance? Yes, but isn't that what mentoring is about? Isn't that what FIRST was designed to do?

There are so many examples I would love to give, but what I can state is that my team, our events that we host, and the teams we work with would not be as successful without the help of these college students.

This policy isn't just counter-intuitive. It is something much worse.
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Unread 09-08-2017, 11:16 AM
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Re: [FRC Blog] Making Volunteering for FIRST Even Better

The debate here is mostly good, but it highlights a need for more information from FIRST. The original blog from FIRST was about enhancing the volunteer experience, pointing out these things:
  • more description was put into each position
  • some key volunteer positions now have age requirements
  • improvements to VIMS
This discussion is many pages deep, debating this paragraph put forth by FIRST and the associated age requirements for the key volunteer positions:

"You may notice that all key volunteers now have a minimum age requirement. This is because these roles have a higher level of responsibility. While a minimum age requirement does not guarantee a volunteer is ready to take on a higher level of responsibility, it does help, in the same way having minimum driving and voting ages help ensure people are ready for those significant responsibilities."

Usually, if there is a game role or robot rule mandated by FIRST that the community does not have consensus to agree with, more information from FIRST is needed and then provided by FIRST. I think this is one of those times. We've seen "blue boxes" with more information or a description of rule intent helps us understand why this is a rule.

We need a "blue box" explanation from FIRST here. This would help us see what the problem is and understand why it is being implemented. Just implementing it may be causing more of an issue that the problem in the first place.

Andy B.
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Unread 09-08-2017, 11:55 AM
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Re: [FRC Blog] Making Volunteering for FIRST Even Better

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Baker View Post
The debate here is mostly good, but it highlights a need for more information from FIRST. The original blog from FIRST was about enhancing the volunteer experience, pointing out these things:
  • more description was put into each position
  • some key volunteer positions now have age requirements
  • improvements to VIMS
This discussion is many pages deep, debating this paragraph put forth by FIRST and the associated age requirements for the key volunteer positions:

"You may notice that all key volunteers now have a minimum age requirement. This is because these roles have a higher level of responsibility. While a minimum age requirement does not guarantee a volunteer is ready to take on a higher level of responsibility, it does help, in the same way having minimum driving and voting ages help ensure people are ready for those significant responsibilities."

Usually, if there is a game role or robot rule mandated by FIRST that the community does not have consensus to agree with, more information from FIRST is needed and then provided by FIRST. I think this is one of those times. We've seen "blue boxes" with more information or a description of rule intent helps us understand why this is a rule.

We need a "blue box" explanation from FIRST here. This would help us see what the problem is and understand why it is being implemented. Just implementing it may be causing more of an issue that the problem in the first place.

Andy B.
I think you count as an Andrew so your opinion is valid.

Though I'll be honest and say that I don't think it's just further explanation that is needed, they should actually revisit this and likely look at some of the suggestions in this thread about how to restore authority to the local VCs by enabling a bypass via a waiver or something similar. It should be up the VCs in my opinion, not a policy at FIRST HQ.

I'm also willing to bet that any further explanation will be along the lines of "it's 19 because we don't want students who might have a conflict of interest" or "it's 23 because we want students who have graduated and don't have school obligations because #beCoolStayInSchool".
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Unread 09-08-2017, 02:17 PM
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Re: [FRC Blog] Making Volunteering for FIRST Even Better

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I think you count as an Andrew so your opinion is valid.
For those who are out of the loop on the joke, its a reference to this post on this thread . It's a good thread to read to laugh if this topic is getting to you.
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Unread 09-08-2017, 03:12 PM
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Re: [FRC Blog] Making Volunteering for FIRST Even Better

We got a follow-up.

https://www.firstinspires.org/roboti...-you-didnt-ask

Quote:
Hi FRC Teams and Volunteers,

By now, many of you have read my last blog about the updates to our Volunteer roles. Here’s a little more information about why, and how, we added some of these important age requirements!

Why? To enhance the event quality, overall team and volunteer experience and to create a baseline for consistency among all volunteer roles. We’re always looking for ways to provide guidance to our community and improve!

How? To start, we heard from several of our FIRST leaders in the field and they requested we add age minimums to key volunteer roles. We then consulted with our Chief Volunteers, several Volunteer Coordinators, and various volunteers. After, we pulled reports of every key volunteer role to see how many volunteers would be affected by making a change to the age requirement. For almost every role, only about 10 volunteers previously assigned to those roles would be affected by adding a requirement. The one role with the biggest number of volunteers affected under the 19-year-old minimum age being considered was Robot Inspector. Due to this, we lowered the age to 18 as a way to alleviate the challenges for Volunteer Coordinators in finding technical volunteers for this important role.

The Volunteer Resources team knows that we have many outstanding, qualified volunteers that may not meet the new minimum requirements. We understand that in a few circumstances, exceptions will be requested. Since this wasn't obvious in the original role descriptions, we’ve now added this line to all the roles with the age requirements: “Exceptions may be granted by event Volunteer Coordinators after review and approval by FIRST Headquarters.” Some roles assigned by HQ (VC, JA, Head Ref, LRI, and FTA) have occasionally been granted exceptions in the past when we received the volunteer submissions from the local event leadership. This practice will continue with these new requirements going forward.

Did you know that for every FIRST Robotics Competition event, we need approximately 120 volunteers? That’s a lot of helping hands. So, while our key volunteer roles now have a minimum age requirement, there are approximately 25 different roles that do not. With some roles requiring several volunteers, this leaves about 75 important positions needed to help successfully run an event! While not every volunteer position is high profile, all are necessary to ensure the best possible event experience.

Since FIRST Championship, the Volunteer Resource Department has been working on improving the Volunteer Shadowing Program. Don’t know what this program is?! Well, volunteer shadowing has been available for a few years now, and we’re planning to develop and promote this more with our Volunteer Coordinators. This allows new volunteers to gain some excellent skills working side-by-side among other experienced volunteers while determining if a key role is the right fit for them. So, if you don’t quite meet the minimum requirements for a role that you’d like in the future, remember you can still get started by volunteering to shadow an experienced volunteer. More information about the Volunteer Shadowing Program will be released in November.

Thanks,

Fiona Hanlon
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Unread 09-08-2017, 03:16 PM
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Re: [FRC Blog] Making Volunteering for FIRST Even Better

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Originally Posted by tjf View Post
I think we have the "blue box" that Andy recommended. Nicely done, HQ!
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Unread 09-08-2017, 04:44 PM
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Re: [FRC Blog] Making Volunteering for FIRST Even Better

Baker asks and we receive.
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Unread 09-08-2017, 09:22 PM
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Re: [FRC Blog] Making Volunteering for FIRST Even Better

After reading through the added explanation for the new age limits, I am still a little puzzled. I offer the following questions:

1. If so few previously assigned to these key roles would be affected by the new limits, why stir the pot by pushing for limits in the first place? Imposing an arbitrary age restriction seems a little superfluous if consistency pretty much takes care of itself without the hassle of waivers. Has there been a trickling increase? Is that the problem being address?

2. The Volunteer Resources team says it "recognizes that many outstanding qualified volunteers may not meet the new requirements." Too many for the system to handle? Is that the worry?

3. Or was the change designed to funnel young highly qualified volunteers into the shadow program, and if so, why wasn't that explicit from the outset? Even 19 year-old could benefit from shadowing (though there will be some for whom that experience in a given position may be redundant; they could explore another). How common is the shadow program at present? It seems that most of the highly qualified volunteers are getting their experience from participation in off-season events.

4. Are there big differences in reliance on young volunteers in different areas that HQs is trying to even out? (With only 10 overall affected for most positions, assuming that's nation-wide, that doesn't seem likely). Or is HQs concerned that some VCs are overly gracious in their dispensation of key roles to young volunteers, and need more oversight?

5. Some other problem I haven't thought of?

I appreciate the efforts to improve the volunteer experience. I'm just still struggling to understand how the new age limit improves it.
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Unread 09-08-2017, 10:06 PM
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Re: [FRC Blog] Making Volunteering for FIRST Even Better

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Originally Posted by rjtbob View Post
After reading through the added explanation for the new age limits, I am still a little puzzled. I offer the following questions:

1. If so few previously assigned to these key roles would be affected by the new limits, why stir the pot by pushing for limits in the first place? Imposing an arbitrary age restriction seems a little superfluous if consistency pretty much takes care of itself without the hassle of waivers. Has there been a trickling increase? Is that the problem being address?
I would note that there seems to be a bit of an increase in the number of younger volunteers. As more events crop up and need staffing, I can see grabbing available people who look like they know what they're doing, regardless of age/experience. While that does work, you run the risk of grabbing someone who isn't ready.

Quote:
3. Or was the change designed to funnel young highly qualified volunteers into the shadow program, and if so, why wasn't that explicit from the outset? Even 19 year-old could benefit from shadowing (though there will be some for whom that experience in a given position may be redundant; they could explore another). How common is the shadow program at present? It seems that most of the highly qualified volunteers are getting their experience from participation in off-season events.
I would hope so... but it would help if that was a little more clear. I haven't seen a lot of shadows myself.

Quote:
4. Are there big differences in reliance on young volunteers in different areas that HQs is trying to even out? (With only 10 overall affected for most positions, assuming that's nation-wide, that doesn't seem likely). Or is HQs concerned that some VCs are overly gracious in their dispensation of key roles to young volunteers, and need more oversight?
I think the latter is the most likely.


One thing that HQ is really pushing on is "Consistency". What that means is that if you go to Event A, and then go to Event B, you should get the same product at both events (within HQ's control). That is, the inspections are done the same way, the ref calls are the same, the game pieces react the same, the schedule is done the same way... (With variances for the venue layout and number of teams where appropriate.) Maybe they're trying to even up the limits a bit and make sure they end up with people who can help them be consistent.
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Unread 09-08-2017, 10:26 PM
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Re: [FRC Blog] Making Volunteering for FIRST Even Better

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Originally Posted by rjtbob View Post
After reading through the added explanation for the new age limits, I am still a little puzzled. I offer the following questions:

1. If so few previously assigned to these key roles would be affected by the new limits, why stir the pot by pushing for limits in the first place? Imposing an arbitrary age restriction seems a little superfluous if consistency pretty much takes care of itself without the hassle of waivers. Has there been a trickling increase? Is that the problem being address?
The way I understood the post, they were talking about people that volunteered last year and wouldn't meet the age requirements for the same role this upcoming year. You can imagine that roles with a minimum age of 19 would, for the most part, only affect people for one year post-high school. The rare exception (fewer than 10 people for each position) would be directly impacted by the addition of a minimum age.

As volunteer registration doesn't have any events populated for this season, FIRST doesn't know what positions any new volunteers would be applying for (and they probably don't even have most of those new volunteers in the system yet!).
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Unread 09-08-2017, 10:35 PM
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Re: [FRC Blog] Making Volunteering for FIRST Even Better

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Originally Posted by Jon Stratis View Post
The way I understood the post, they were talking about people that volunteered last year and wouldn't meet the age requirements for the same role this upcoming year. You can imagine that roles with a minimum age of 19 would, for the most part, only affect people for one year post-high school. The rare exception (fewer than 10 people for each position) would be directly impacted by the addition of a minimum age.

As volunteer registration doesn't have any events populated for this season, FIRST doesn't know what positions any new volunteers would be applying for (and they probably don't even have most of those new volunteers in the system yet!).
That's my understanding too. That why I wondered whether they looked at a back trend (Would there have been fewer last year had this gone into effect then?)
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Unread 09-08-2017, 11:00 PM
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Re: [FRC Blog] Making Volunteering for FIRST Even Better

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That's my understanding too. That why I wondered whether they looked at a back trend (Would there have been fewer last year had this gone into effect then?)
I'm not sure we're talking about the same thing here... My understanding was that there may have been 100 people in each position last year that were, at the time, below the new minimum age, but only 10 of them would still be below the age limit this year and thus affected by the new rule.

Quote:
For almost every role, only about 10 volunteers previously assigned to those roles would be affected by adding a requirement.
The key (in my reading) is verb tense, "would be" versus "would have been".
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Unread 09-10-2017, 10:27 AM
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Re: [FRC Blog] Making Volunteering for FIRST Even Better

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Originally Posted by Jon Stratis View Post
I'm not sure we're talking about the same thing here... My understanding was that there may have been 100 people in each position last year that were, at the time, below the new minimum age, but only 10 of them would still be below the age limit this year and thus affected by the new rule.



The key (in my reading) is verb tense, "would be" versus "would have been".
Thank you Jon for your post. Sorry I haven't been able to reply until now. We may have been on different tracks. Would my understanding as outlined below be any more realistic with respect to how HQs is handling this?

The # of KV roles filled by 17-18 year-old's last year (in 7 different roles, excluding RI) was around 700 = 5-6/non-championship event. [I'm using the the 142 events held weeks 1-6]. For 17 year-old's only (excluding RI), last years total was around 70 = 0.5/event. This later # was small enough that HQs believes that the now-experienced 18 year-old's can be accommodated with waivers should they be needed to fill KV positions. I assume that the presumption over-all here is that the on-going level of need for KVs will no longer be as reliant on 'qualified' 17 and 18 year-old's aging into the system. As for the RI exception, the # of 17 year-old's filling that role last year was significantly higher (by how much I haven't yet heard guesstimates), enough so that HQs felt the need to lower the age limit there to 18 this year, permitting current experienced 18 year-old's (+ the 'qualified' but not yet experienced) to fill the role w/o a waiver. I assume a similar overall presumption of less need for aging-in 'qualified' 17 year-old's to help fill out rosters. And we will see how all this plays out.
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Unread 09-11-2017, 01:22 PM
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Re: [FRC Blog] Making Volunteering for FIRST Even Better

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Originally Posted by rjtbob View Post
3. Or was the change designed to funnel young highly qualified volunteers into the shadow program, and if so, why wasn't that explicit from the outset? Even 19 year-old could benefit from shadowing (though there will be some for whom that experience in a given position may be redundant; they could explore another). How common is the shadow program at present? It seems that most of the highly qualified volunteers are getting their experience from participation in off-season events.
Previously, there was no way for a VC to officially designate volunteers to shadow other roles. Many VCs did allow shadowing anyway. From my experience in NE, I would say there was an average of around 5-10 shadows per event. Many of the shadows were volunteers stepping from one role to a key role (ex. jumping from queuer to lead queuer, or field reset to referee/scorekeeper etc). At no event that I was a part of were there more than 3 underage volunteers participating as shadows. I have really high hopes for the new shadow program HQ has been developing. I had heard whispers about it last season but I don't think anyone expected such quick implementation.
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