The Randell Research Center relies heavily upon its dedicated volunteers. Volunteers are an essential component of the operation of the Randell Research Center, and the following materials have been developed in order to provide an initial orientation for prospective volunteers.
Volunteers may plan to come in on a regular schedule to help out in the office or lab, or they may simply remain on the “on-call” list for specific tasks, such as field work or labwork or special events, or large-scale work days such as vegetation clearing or bulk mailing. In any case, volunteers are asked normally to work at least one shift each month they reside in Southwest Florida in order to remain on the active roster.
Training and Enrichment
Volunteers will be offered regularly scheduled training and enrichment programs at the RRC or on the Pineland site, and attendance is strongly encouraged. These sessions will normally be presented by RRC staff. In addition, whenever visiting researchers or scholars are present, from the Florida Museum of Natural History or elsewhere, training/enrichment sessions may also be scheduled for volunteers. Written training materials will be provided to all volunteers interested in specific jobs or tasks. Nevertheless, volunteers are encouraged to read and study on their own, and for this purpose books are available for use at the RRC headquarters. Suggestions for additional topics or materials are always welcome.
Volunteers should sign in and record the total hours they worked on a volunteer timesheet for each shift or event. The timesheet will normally be placed at the reception desk in a notebook, or in another prominent location. This information is important for purposes of evaluation and for writing grant proposals, and each volunteer should be responsible for recording her/his hours in a timely fashion.
Calendar of Events
A calendar is maintained at the RRC headquarters with upcoming special events, tours, meetings, training sessions, etc., and volunteers should consult this calendar in order to plan their volunteer activities and time. Volunteers should be pro-active in contacting the RRC when they are unable to come in for scheduled work or complete planned tasks.
Volunteer activies at the Randell Research Center generally fall into one of seven categories based on the needs of the RRC, as outlined below. These job descriptions are not mutually exclusive, and each volunteer may participate in one or more activities, depending on their interest, time, and physical capabilities. All jobs are important elements of the success of the Randell Center, and flexibility and participation in multiple activities characterizes the ideal RRC volunteer.
Direct contact with the visiting public at the Pineland site is important, even though the Calusa Heritage Trail itself is self-guided. Once trained, RRC greeters are scheduled for morning (10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.) or afternoon (1:00-4:00 p.m.) shifts, and are stationed at the Visitor Center on the Trail.
During peak tourist season (January through April), guided tours of the Pineland site are offered. Docents lead both public tours and special tours for scheduled groups, including schools, and work either alone or in teams of two to collect donations at the Pavilion, lead the visitors around the site on a guided tour, and sell books and other merchandise. Site tour reports are completed for each tour.
The operation and future growth of the Randell Research Center relies heavily on volunteer assistance in performing a variety of office tasks at the headquarters building. Volunteers are needed for everything from mailing and filing, word processing, and many other tasks. While conducting office work, volunteers may also help by answering the phone and greeting visitors to the headquarters.
The large tracts of land managed by the Randell Research Center require time and labor invested in vegetation clearing and landscaping, both at the Pineland archaeological site and at the RRC headquarters property next to the Post Office. Within the context of an overall vegetation master plan, volunteers are needed for periodic work days in a variety of locations, including the Brown’s and Randell Mound complexes. Some areas will require more work than others, since some portions of the site will be allowed to maintain a largely natural appearance, while other portions will be more carefully cleared and managed for aesthetic and safety reasons.
As an important component of its research and education mission, the Randell Research Center conducts archaeological field investigations at the Pineland site and elsewhere. Projects range from individual test pits in specific areas of interest at the site, to broader and more systematic testing and excavation projects as needs dictate. Research will be conducted year-round, including both field and lab components. Fieldwork opportunities will obviously be affected by weather and groundwater conditions, and will also be limited in order to ensure that artifacts and other materials found are processed in the lab and curated in a timely fashion. Field techniques will be taught “on the job” to newer volunteers, all under the supervision of RRC and Florida Museum staff archaeologists. Tasks will include everything from hand excavation of shell and soil, to screening and sorting these materials. Fieldwork will also include occasional research and collection trips related to estuarine or terrestrial ecology, or to the development of zooarchaeological and botanical comparative collections for the RRC lab.
All materials recovered during archaeological field excavations must subsequently be processed inside the RRC lab facilities, including both the “wet lab” in the garage and the “dry lab” upstairs. In addition, zooarchaeological and archaeobotanical comparative collections are being developed for use by RRC researchers, requiring additional processing of skeletal, shell, seed, and wood specimens. Some tasks will be as simple as rough-sorting artifacts or labeling bones, but other techniques will require more in-depth training, which will be provided to volunteers who are interested and willing to make long-term commitments to volunteer service.
The Randell Research Center sponsors or participates in a number of special events throughout the year, including public lectures, public festivals and fairs, and other such events. Volunteer assistance is needed both in the preliminary planning and preparation of such events, as well as in public contact during the events themselves. Tasks range from staffing display tables and selling merchandise to preparing and serving food or handing out nametags. These events will be sporadic, and not part of the regular weekly and monthly volunteer activities at the RRC.