Classroom Culture: Volunteer Jobs Board

Children along the Iditarod Trail love to help where they are needed. Photo: Terrie Hanke

As teachers, we know that it’s extremely important to set the tone and the expectations for your classroom. One of the areas where you can do this is with your classroom jobs. Some students love passing out papers or lab equipment, some are great line leaders or attendance-takers, some prefer non-social jobs like sharpening pencils. Others can be relied upon to answer your phone or take items to another part of the building.

A volunteer checker greets musher Aliy Zirkle. Photo: Terrie Hanke

I didn’t know until I saw first-hand how vital the roles of nearly 2,000 individual volunteers are to every Iditarod race. The Iditarod volunteer web page lists forty-four distinct volunteer positions, from making foot ointment for dogs, to cooking, set-up, communications, trail positions, and managing the finish line chute in Nome. A few positions require specialized skills, such as veterinarians and pilots, but most positions are available to those with a willingness to work hard in a challenging environment.

Pilot Danny D. flies supplies up and down the Iditarod Trail. Photo: Terrie Hanke

I use an Iditarod Volunteer Board in my classroom. It’s a great way to emphasize that teamwork and effort are needed to make anything successful. Students love to volunteer! Encourage them to try something slightly out of their comfort zone or fill in where a job is needed.

My clipboard with classroom jobs. Photo: K. Newmyer

The Volunteer Board I will be using this year is pictured here. Some jobs may be obvious while others might not. Race Marshall is line leader—I need someone alert and independent, so my fifth graders don’t plow through a Kinder line! Central Comms—that’s phone answerer. The Drop Bags Coordinator passes out lunch cards, and the Tech person makes sure laptops are plugged in at the end of the day. IAF Pilot—you guessed it—for the student needing to get their wiggles out by taking notes to the office. Set-up and Take-Down are pretty self-explanatory, but Merch? That’s pencils and supplies. Mandatory Gear is recess equipment. I included VIP Liaison, Dog Handler, and Return Dogs–at this moment I have no idea what they are, but it will be fun for the students to decide.

No matter if you teach Kinder, high school, or home school, I encourage you to try this in your classroom. Be as creative as you want! You can even direct students to the Iditarod volunteer page and let them determine what jobs are needed in your room.

By the time the race starts in March, students will have a solid understanding of the many volunteers needed to make the Iditarod—and your classroom—run smoothly.

Do you have a great idea or question about Volunteer Positions for your class? Email me at