FIRST events are an exciting and fun-filled opportunity to see youth in action, watching them apply the knowledge and skills they developed through team participation. Each competition event depends on an abundance of volunteers with a broad spectrum of talents to support operating needs and competition demands.
FIRST continually seeks more individuals to help. Whether you have four hours on a Saturday or a full day to spend with us, FIRST event-day volunteers help out during the event season, often for more than one FIRST program. Many of these roles are highly visible and can have a significant positive impact on the quality of the event. There is something to suit everyone’s style, whether you like fast-past actions or helping behind-the-scenes. Many event-day volunteer roles do not need to have any technical expertise.
FIRST engages thousands of adult Team Mentors and Coaches volunteering with young people ages 6-18. Team Mentors and Coaches work side-by-side with our FIRST teams to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology and engineering. They have a variety of backgrounds, but all share in the FIRST commitment of inspiring young people, their schools, and communities an appreciation of science and technology, and how mastering these can enrich the lives of all.
The time needed for a Team Mentor or Coach will vary with the program selected. Teams not only need week-to-week guidance on the technology of their building and science projects, but they need guidance on organizing outreach and fundraising efforts in their community. Coaches and mentors do not need to have any technical expertise, just a willingness to inspire youth. Some teams need topic-related expertise for a short period of time, but generally these positions would require a 6-month commitment to team support.
In addition to in-person support, teams can also use the help of knowledgeable resources to guide them virtually. These subject matter experts can assist teams when working through a problem or just need extra support or guidance, whatever their circumstance.
Besides training for your volunteer position and camaraderie with a vast network of like-minded individuals committed to STEM education, innovation, and building life and technical skills of FIRST students, here are a few things you can expect as a FIRST volunteer:
Communication — From event organizers. They will be available to answer all your questions prior to and during the event.
Training — You will receive training specific to your assigned job either before or on the morning of the event, depending on the role. FIRST provides appropriate training according to each Volunteer position. Some Volunteer positions require focused trainings that may last a day or two, while other positions can be learned at the event itself.
Event T-Shirt and Name Tag — Depending on program and event, you may be given a t-shirt and name tag. These designate you as a FIRST Volunteer for the day. They allow you access to the area of your Volunteer job and are your ticket to the Volunteer lounge for food and refreshments throughout the day.
FIRST Year of Service — All FIRST volunteers receive a FIRST Year of Service pin based on how many years they have volunteered at the 1, 3, 5, 10, 15, and 20 year intervals. FIRST has an extraordinarily high volunteer retention rate, and we do have many 20+ year volunteers still with us today.
Spirit — The classic “We’ve got spirit, how about you?” chant pales in comparison to what you’ll experience at a FIRST event. Part sporting event, part rock party, you may just see moms with mohawks, six-year olds dressed as LEGO elements, and dancing flash mobs. The spirit is contagious, so if you are a new volunteer, you may want to remember your dancing shoes, your Halloween costume, wear every FIRST pin you’ve ever received, break out the face paint, trick out your top hat, dust off your FIRST logo earrings, and get ready for some fun.
And a Whole Lot More — It doesn’t matter which FIRST program you Volunteer for, you will always walk away at the end of the day with a sense of pride and fulfillment, knowing that you have helped children experience what they never might have without FIRST and without your support.
“Over the past seven years, I’ve had the privilege to mentor 11 teams, host 12 tournaments, and emcee for the Florida state tournament and FIRST LEGO League World Festival. My passion is changing lives, and while doing so, I found that mine changed as well.” Jason Lovelace, FIRST Volunteer Orlando, Florida
“I welcome the opportunity to encourage everyone I meet to get involved with FIRST as a Volunteer, a Mentor, or by supporting a team. The rewards are simply too immense to summarize in words…” Nicole Collazo, Senior Software Engineer II, Raytheon System
Here are just some of the Volunteer roles for each FIRST program. The roles in this list do not require any advance training, familiarity with FIRST, or technical know-how:
FIRST LEGO League Jr.
Local Expos happen between October and April of each year. The FIRST LEGO League Jr. World Festival Expo is a part of the FIRST World Championship held in April of each year.
*Please note: All FIRST LEGO League Jr. volunteers must be comfortable working with and encouraging young children ages 6-9.
FIRST LEGO League
Events occur between November and January each year. The FIRST LEGO League World Festival is part of the FIRST World Championship held in April of each year.
*Please note: All FIRST LEGO League volunteers must be comfortable working with and encouraging young children ages 9-16, including international students.
Events are conducted October through March. The FIRST Tech Challenge World Championships are part of the FIRST World Championship held in April of each year.
*Please note: All FIRST Tech Challenge volunteers must be comfortable working with and encouraging youth in grades 7-12, including international students.
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