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ASTD learning and development professionals have opportunities to serve as one of "America's Volunteer Guardians"

posted Dec 3, 2009, 10:43 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Dec 7, 2009, 8:56 AM by Andrew Welch ]

Several members from Flotilla Arlington | Northern Virginia are attending an event held by the DC Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) this evening.  We've heard a lot about the organization, whose website explains that, "The chapter provides members with a forum for professional development opportunities and resources to improve the workplace learning and performance industry," a great goal, and one that shares much in common with the missions of the Auxiliarists working in our organization's training, personnel, and leadership functions.

I, Andrew Welch, am personally excited to attend the event because of past and current involvement in the Auxiliary's university programming initiatives.  I served last year as an instructor to our Detachment at The College of William and Mary, and now serve (in addition to my duties here in Northern Virginia) as the program manager for our university efforts nationwide.  Many of us in a volunteer service wear multiple hats, but those that I have worn helping to develop our newest members have proven to be the most rewarding.

In keeping with the event's theme centering around career enrichment through volunteerism, we hope to connect with ASTD members and share thoughts on volunteering for positions in which they could use their expertise.  The Auxiliary offers a number of opportunities in which learning and development professionals can contribute to the service's missions and the development of our people.

We appreciate this opportunity to meet and learn with the members of ASTD.  We invite you to learn more about opportunities (below) for these learning and development professionals to serve in the Auxiliary as one of "America's Volunteer Guardians", and all non-ASTD members to learn more about that organization by visiting their website at  Visit "Interested in Joining" ( to learn more or to get started.

Designing Learning

Whether locally for Flotilla Arlington | Northern Virginia, in the greater DC area, or nationally through the Training Department, Auxiliarists at all levels of the organization are responsible for developing the continuum of operational training necessary to field operationally ready units for our many mission areas, or the education necessary to develop our leaders at all levels.

Improving Human Performance

In October I had the privilege of attending and presenting at the Coast Guard's three-day Human Performance Technology conference in Williamsburg, VA.  I had worked with several of these folks in the past, but was quite impressed with what I learned, and the great discussions I had with the Coast Guard's uniformed and non-uniformed human performance professionals from around the country.  My presentation focused on cross-training a "new generation of Guardians" from among our active duty, reserve, auxiliary, and civilian work forces.  The experience was both rewarding and indicative of the Coast Guard's commitment to the human performance concept.

Delivering Training 

Auxiliarists actually have a unique opportunity in delivering training.  Our qualified instructors deliver both in boating and nautical education to the public, helping to keep them safe on the water, but also to our own members on any number of operational, leadership, and organizational topics.

Facilitating Organization Change

The Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary are currently in the midst of the most significant organizational change since their founding.  Organization framework and processes from the unit level all the way to national and headquarters levels are being reshaped with the goal of dramatically enhanced mission execution and value to the American public.  As the organization changes, so too are local level units such as Flotilla Arlington | Northern Virginia looking at their operationally processes and seeking to make dramatic strides.  This work is ably facilitated by our organizational change leaders, and is a great area of current personnel and volunteer need.

Managing the Learning Function

Every Coast Guard Auxiliary unit--be it a local area Flotilla, a regionally-focused Division, a District encompassing several states, or the national staff--is home to one or more dedicated "Member Training Officers" charged with managing the delivery of training and maintenance of qualifications of fellow Auxiliarists.  This is a particularly significant opportunity in Flotilla Arlington | Northern Virginia as we develop a new generation of leaders and grow in number of members and scope of mission to serve the safety needs of the local public and marine environment.


A new approach to member development locally, coaching has been for some time a significant area of focus championed by Coast Guard leadership's Individual Development Plans and the Leadership Development Framework.  There are opportunities for our members to serve as coaches, particularly for younger and less professionally experienced Auxiliarists, and as managers of this process as work continues to educate our work force on coaching concept.

Career Planning and Talent Management

In a similar vein as "coaching", of career planning and talent management practitioners are called on to facilitate the development of skills in new members, of particularly value when working with members of the "Millennial Generation" to chart their course within the organization, and also to work in Member Training and Personnel roles to match mission needs with volunteers' skills.

Managing Organizational Knowledge

The confluence of new technologies and and methodologies with the coming of age of a new generation of eager volunteers has created in the Coast Guard Auxiliary a need to retain and then transfer significant organizational and operational knowledge.  Leaders in this space will find significant need for their expertise and opportunity to make a real impact on the organization's future.

-- Andrew Welch,