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Case Study Florida State Parks (FSP)
Challenges Florida State Parks had three main objectives:
  1. Recruiting,
  2. Centralized tracking of volunteers across multiple parks, and
  3. Streamlined processes for volunteers and volunteer managers.
Solution VSys One, VSys Anywhere, VSys Live, and Online Training Module hosted in VSys One's secure datacenter.

Annually, 8,000 regular service volunteers and an additional 12,000 occasional service volunteers contribute more than 1 million hours to Florida's 175 state parks. Volunteers serve in all areas of park operations including visitor services, administration, safety, maintenance, and natural and cultural resource conservation.


In 2014, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection solicited bids for a web-based volunteer management system to allow 300 staff administrators to manage their volunteer teams. The state sought to centralize more than 20,000 records from multiple databases. Additionally, they required a responsive design for mobile devices that allowed volunteers and staff to access the system from the field or office, and that simplified interfaces and centralized recruiting. For volunteers, the requirement was to make it easy to search for opportunities, apply, train,and self-report service hours.


VSys won this competitive contract and implemented a phased solution that deployed VSys Anywhere (for volunteer managers) and VSys Live (for volunteers). Volunteers and personnel can access VSys at any time and from mobile devices if needed. All products are customer-governed by the VSys One administration and backup tool, VSys One. All former databases and volunteer processes were consolidated.

Using VSys Live, volunteers can browse opportunities and apply in the Volunteer Portal, create their own profiles, self-administer trainings and submit service hours. The resulting savings in staff time allows the state to do "more with less," saving taxpayer dollars.

Automatic Application Routing

The volunteer selects from individual, campground host or group volunteer applications to create their username and password. The completed application is transferred electronically to the volunteer manager at the park(s) and/or region that the volunteer selects. The volunteer's ability to apply directly to a park, update their applications, share them with other parks, or apply directly to an open opportunity at a park makes it possible to support a wide variety of park needs. Each park's volunteer manager(s) receives applications for their consideration. From there, the volunteer manager can conduct interviews and background checks, allowing them to select the best volunteer(s) to meet their needs.

Automated Notifications

As volunteers progress from the application and move through the onboarding process, the system is customized to automatically communicate with them. For example, once the volunteer's application is successfully submitted, they receive a "thank you and next steps" auto-email. And when the volunteer reaches an hours-served milestone and is eligible to receive an award, they receive a "thank you for your service" message. Additionally, volunteer managers can create custom lists of their volunteers and send group email or text communications.

Flexible Access Roles

Florida State Parks has a wide range of data managers who all need access to different data sets and functionality. Park volunteer managers require access to day-to-day functions for their volunteers. Regional and statewide volunteer managers have a broader mandate to consolidate reports on volunteer contributions from multiple parks. Superusers at the statewide level need to troubleshoot and configure the system when regulations change to assist regions and parks. Auditors need to review volunteer profiles and park processes - for example, to see required documentation. VSys One allows FSP to customize access roles to assure each administrator has access to the data and functions that they need.

As an FSP program manager, I could not be more pleased with VSys support. It really matters who you work with day-to-day and weekly for occasional or emergency troubleshooting and exploring new functions to assist our parks. VSys staff have a knowledge base and demeanor that is easy to work with. Their support makes it easy to discuss and explore VSys functions to better assist our parks. Christine Small
Florida State Parks, Program Manager

The VSys team began by listening. State leaders and five regional managers provided input on volunteer recruiting, onboarding, required records and documentation, hours entry and approvals, tracking, auto-emailing, and reporting. This represented a new and consolidated process for many parks, some of which have part-time volunteer managers. The new policies were codified while the initial system was configured. Key elements of this custom deployment included:

  • Recruiting with custom park 'Open Scheduled Jobs'
  • Routing volunteer applications to 175 state parks
  • Tracking volunteers that serve in multiple parks
  • State + Regional + local data sharing
  • Multi-tier data security access roles
  • Creating custom lists of volunteers
  • Establishing and automating central + local hour milestone awards
  • Tracking hours by park, region, state, and job category
  • Configuring custom reports
Training VSys personnel trained core staff through virtual webinars. These sessions were recorded to enable staff to access the trainings as needed. FSP staff then conducted a series of in-person park trainings for staff in each region. FSP also uses VSys's Online Training Module to provide training to volunteers across the state.

From the outset, deployment required a full partnership between the state and VSys. Once the core system was designed and personnel trained, a schedule of weekly meetings was established with VSys support personnel. Meetings, held weekly for more than five years, have allowed both teams to adjust VSys and the training curriculum to continually improve and meet park needs.

The result is a significant number of custom configurations to help the solution "fit like a glove" to FSP needs. It is important to note that, given the inherent flexibility of VSys, meeting these unique requirements did not require significant changes. VSys is continually improving. As VSys continues to add new features and functionality, Florida State Parks continues to explore new features and reconfigure the system to make it easier to volunteer and easier to manage the volunteer processes.

Project Complete The safety of visitors, employees and volunteers is a top priority. Volunteer time and skills are invaluable to the Florida State Park system. Volunteers continue to work safely alongside staff, allowing state parks to continue to provide the highest quality visitor experiences in the outdoors. VSys has supported FSP adjustments and, most importantly, provides solid, seamless support for the efficient use of staff time.

Make a Difference - Volunteer!