Volunteer Stories

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Every FIRST volunteer has a story. We want to hear yours.
Tweet it, Snap it, Instagram it, post it on Facebook, make a short video on your phone, or just send us a good, old-fashioned email.
Tell us why you volunteer with FIRST, your favorite FIRST volunteer memory, or what inspires you to be a FIRST volunteer.

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MK Baldwinmk baldwin - first volunteer

I've been volunteering as a FIRST® LEGO® League referee since the 2006 season. I began to referee at the FIRST World Festival/FIRST Championship when it was in Atlanta, and volunteered at the final two years of the Atlanta event. For the past several years, I've been the Head Referee in South Carolina and active on the South Carolina FIRST LEGO League steering committee.

Volunteering at events around the country, I have made a number of great friends.  My fellow volunteers have become like a family to me. We travel together and have a great time when we are gathered together! When we discovered we had similar interests, we decided to try vacationing together. Our trips have included going to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, various gardens and science centers, a local air show, and watching Bill Nye, the Science Guy – live! We are a family scattered across the country, yet we now stay in touch and visit when we have the chance.

At the 2017 FIRST Championship, I volunteered in both Houston, Texas, and St. Louis, Missouri, and I am already registered to do it again in 2018! I enjoy refereeing at the FIRST World Festival/FIRST Championship because I love seeing the high caliber teams and their high energy. I am motivated by the stories of the teams and individuals – learning about how they have overcome obstacles to get there. It also helps me to have stories to tell others that I meet as I encourage them to participate in FIRST programs.

My advice to others: volunteer and be a part of shaping our future! If you have ever been depressed by the news, then volunteer to help FIRST LEGO League kids. They are upbeat, smart, and willing to try… AND they have FUN!


Samantha Lipscomb

My name is Sam Lipscomb and I’m currently a volunteer for FIRST. I volunteer at events across the FIRST New England district. As a high school student, I couldn't get enough of FIRST® Robotics Competition and was looking for ways to attend more regional events. I started as a crowd control volunteer at the New Jersey Regional in 2005, and since then I have volunteered in almost every position at more than 80 regular season FIRST® Robotics Competition events — as well as many off-season events. I personally love to volunteer on the field as a field supervisor. I also enjoy volunteering in a queuing or judge position where I get to meet with all of the teams, and as a volunteer coordinator to help make sure that events run as smoothly as possible. I even got my parents to volunteer at my annual district event. The funniest thing I've ever done while volunteering was emceeing a FIRST® LEGO® League tournament in a polar bear onesie for the ANIMAL ALLIESSM 2016-2017 season.Sam Lipscomb - FIRST volunteer

I continue to volunteer 14 seasons later because I know what an amazing experience being part of a FIRST team was for me as a student. The competitions and events are the culmination of months of hard work; a stage for the students and their creations to shine. One of the most memorable experiences I've had volunteering, was inviting a student who was about to graduate to come and volunteer with me at the Connecticut Regional. He was so happy to learn how to wire a field, work with the key volunteers, and aid in the success of the event, and now — years later — is a FIRST technical advisor in another region. Spreading the volunteer love so that students know they can stay involved as alumni is always a great feeling.

Spending time at events with current students makes me realize that what excited me about FIRST when I was 14 is still going strong. By volunteering, I can ensure that there will always be events where students can feel that same magic.