Volunteerism has long been a core tenet of the USEA and the new Volunteer Incentive Program makes recording hours even easier.
by Sarah E. Coleman
Launched in 2015, The United States Eventing Association’s Volunteer Incentive Program (VIP) was the brainchild of the late Seema Soonad. A tireless advocate for better recognition and education of volunteers, her legacy lives on through the VIP program, explains Claire Kelley, marketing coordinator for USEA.
The program, presented by Sunsprite Warmbloods, aims to increase the ease of participation in events, provide incentives and recognize the efforts of volunteers, Claire explains. “Without the work of volunteers, USEA and the sport of three-day eventing wouldn’t exist.”
In 2017, the online management portal, eventingvolunteers.com, became available for download. The app is very used friendly, and creator Nicolas Hinze is available to help with any questions or concerns, Claire notes. “The Volunteer Committee is one of the hardest working committees of the USEA and is continuously thinking of new ideas to build and improve the program.”
The perks of volunteering with USEA are many; not only is hard work recognized on both a national and regional level, volunteers make connections with others at the event and have the freedom to choose their positions through the VIP app. An added perk for eventing newbies or for those returning to the discipline after a hiatus is the ability to learn more about the sport and become completely immersed in the ins and outs of competition.
By the Numbers
In 2018, a total of 30,521 volunteer hours were recorded. The 2018 USEA Volunteer of the Year, Vicki Reynolds, had an impressive total of 330 hours and 35 minutes by herself. As the winner of the USEA Volunteer of the Year, Vicki received a cash prize of $1,000, a custom “USEA Volunteer of the Year” embroidered jacket and a memorial trophy. The Top Ten volunteers on the Volunteer Incentive Program Leaderboard receive a certificate of acknowledgment and a ribbon at the end of each competition year. Area awards are also strongly encouraged, but are decided by each area representative.
Eventingvolunteers.com has created a “USEA VIP All Time Leaderboard” and since Dec. 1, 2016, eventingvolunteers.com has recorded 54,253 volunteer hours and 3,103 volunteers. The top three on the “USEA VIP All Time leaderboard” as of March 13, 2019, were:
- Michael Smallwood with 543 hours and 18 minutes
- Diane Bird with 428 hours and 2 minutes
- Art Bird with 383 hours and 42 minutes