By Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom, Civic Service Institute project director

I recently had the opportunity to facilitate a unique hybrid conference about leadership and volunteer engagement hosted by the Civic Service Institute.

NAU has been a leader in online and blended content delivery. When the institute learned that four internationally known trainers in our field were looking for partner organizations to host a blended learning event, we were excited to have NAU serve as the Arizona host site.

The trainers, Rob Jackson, Rick Lynch, Andy Fryar and Tony Goodrow, presented live in Portland, Ore., simultaneously delivering a webcast to Boise, Reno, Las Vegas and Flagstaff. This blended learning format was the first of its kind for the volunteer engagement field.

Personally, I enjoyed learning about the trends in volunteer demographics and engagement.

Sharon Tewksbury Bloom

Technology was used to bring conference speakers from Portland, Ore., into an NAU classroom. Activities from the hybrid conference took place in multiple locations.

We now have five generations volunteering at the same time, often within the same organization, and each group brings unique perspectives.

The oldest generation, like those involved in the Civic Service Institute’s Senior Corps program, expect to commit to volunteering for regular shifts and routine tasks. They appreciate being recognized for their loyalty and years of service.

The millennial generation, like many NAU students, is volunteering in great numbers, but expect to volunteer for numerous organizations at different levels of commitment. Millennials are committed to a cause or a campaign rather than one organization.

In the room in Flagstaff we had volunteer leaders from different agencies, ages, backgrounds and levels of experience. Although most of the content was delivered remotely, the greatest connections and moments of insight came from what we shared with one another in the room. The blended learning approach allowed us to bring in new content and perspectives from around the world and then connect locally and apply what we learned to Arizona.