Since I’ve been traveling this week, I have not had a lot of time to write. Our days have been long – 12-16 hours of hiking, driving, or flying each day of the last four. When I can sit and think more, I’ll have some stories to share as well as some fantastic photography of historically and geologically significant places.
This morning my thoughts turned to my “old” job partially because I chatted with one of my former co-workers last night via FaceBook and partially because I knew today was the organization’s first snowshoe hike of the winter season. About a year ago, I lead my first event for this organization for which I was hired to provide education and outreach. The outreach responsibilities were huge, really so much larger than was revealed to me upon hire and kept me from developing the educational programming for which was to be my primary purpose. Outreach was the true focus of the position for which I was hired and for that reason, it was not a great fit.
But, now, a year later I can look back and see some of the things that were wrong with the first event I organized and what could have made it better. Firstly, the events (all but a few) were events planned before I was hired yet I was told to stick to what was planned. This event, snowshoeing in the evening, was attended by close to 100 people. Our registration methods were in flux, and we were still taking them by phone and email as we got an online system going. The snowshoes had to be picked up from another agency, transported to the site, and giving out to participants (as an appropriately fitting shoe) as they arrived – all at the same time. Two staff members were present besides me. One led the largest group of snowshoers out on the trails and did his job without complaint or concern. The other co-worker greeted people as they arrived but did more chatting and socializing with participants and board members than anything else. I checked people in and gave them snowshoes. I could have used a lot of help with that and in hindsight, my co-worker let me flounder. She actually left the event after most participants were checked in, leaving to go out of town. Nevermind 100 snowshoers would be returning and need help taking their equipment off. Their equipment would then need to be returned to the office and to the agency at which they were stored.
Many people needed help putting snowshoes on for this hike/walk was their first experience. I am very thankful for my husband who came and put over 20 pairs of snowshoes on different people so they could hike. I seriously could not have done this event without him.
Did I teach anyone? No. Was there organized chaos? Yes. Should I have received more help for such a large event? Absolutely. Was I judged for how this event went? I think so. One gracious ex-board member told me he thought the event went well. Another emailed me with a list of things I should have done – which in actuality – I did but he never read the attachments to the email I had sent out to the group leaders. Did the pick-up and return of equipment go smoothly? Yes, absolutely. Were the people that attended the event nice, patient and understanding? Yes, they were. Did I enjoy hosting this event three weeks into a job without any orientation? No, absolutely not.
And, all those things should have been warning signs to me. I brushed them off as being new to a job. But, it really should have highlighted that there were to be problems ahead. And, there were. Did I go on to organize other large events? Yes, and they were successful with even more people in attendance. Did I teach at either of those larger events or even some of the smaller ones? No. I did not. The teaching that got done were events I added to an already over-booked schedule.
I noticed that some things were changed for this event today. And, that’s a good thing. But, I do question why when I suggested changes they were not welcomed. And this led to me not feeling valued. Eventually, after similar experiences over a period of months, I realized the job was not a good fit for me.
Last weekend, I conducted my first educational event on my own since resigning from the organization that held the snowshoe event. It was for a local community group and called Cultivating Citizen Scientists. I enjoyed it. I felt accepted, appreciated, welcomed, and valued. I made a good choice.