Volunteers help make our trials possible. we can't do it without you. thank you for considering helping at trial(s) you are not entered in.

 description of the volunteer roles: 

Element Leads:

Element Leads (EL) will be responsible for making sure their search areas get set up per the specs of the C.O. (Certifying Official).  They will do a walk-thru with the C.O. first thing in the morning to discuss search areas, boundaries, start lines, and any canopies/tarps to block lines of sight.  The ELs will then work with their set-up helpers to get the areas set up.

Element Leads will then be responsible for making sure all of their volunteers understand their job duties (Volunteer Coordinator (VC) will brief everyone as a group, but ELs will most likely end up answering last minute questions), and make sure that all of their volunteers are in position and ready to go before the first dog starts.  The ELs will also make sure to relieve their gate stewards so they can watch a few dogs work.  Spectators are not allowed in the Interior search areas, so those volunteers can go to one of the other elements to watch.  We also cannot have the ELs in the Interior watching dogs.  If they are relieving a volunteer, they may be in the Interior until that volunteer returns.  ELs will also make sure their volunteers get restroom breaks and water.  The element volunteers will answer to the ELs and the ELs will answer to the Volunteer Coordinator.


One or two volunteers are needed to help with parking, both the volunteer parking and the competitor parking.  This is the first contact that each volunteer and competitor will have when they arrive. Parking volunteers will only need to be assigned in the morning to help get everyone situated in their respective parking spots.


Check-in volunteers will be responsible for checking in both the volunteers and the competitors.  Depending on where your volunteers will be parking in relation to your competitors, you may choose to have a volunteer check-in that is separate from your competitor check-in.  At the time of check-in, all volunteers, spectators, and competitors will be required to sign a liability waiver as well as a photo/video release.  

Main Gate Steward:

The Main Gate Steward (MGS) will work with the competitors to get them to the initial staging area.  The MGS will have a running order and will call the dog/handler teams from the parking lot.  Unlike other dog sports, we do not want dogs and handlers out lined up waiting to go in.  One team will be at the initial staging area and the team that is next in can be working the warm up boxes if they choose.  Beyond that, all subsequent teams can be given a head’s up but should not be staging.  Depending on the flow of the elements, there may be 1 or 2 Main Gate Stewards.

Assistant Gate Steward:  

There should be one Assistant Gate Steward (AGS).  This person will help the Main Gate Stewards locate competitors in the parking lot to let them know their turn is coming.  This person will also assist with the warm-up boxes if needed (i.e. – calling the C.O. if a new odor box is needed).  This person will also need to be trained in the check-in process so that they can check in spectators who arrive once the trial has started.  (Putting one of your check-in volunteers into this role will eliminate the need to train another person.)  The AGS can also relieve the Main Gate Steward if they need a restroom break, or they can get the Trial Host, C.O., or VC in case of a problem in the parking lot.

Gate Stewards:

Gate Stewards will be positioned at the staging areas on the way to the elements.  The Gate Steward will great the competitor at the staging area and then help direct them to the next one when it’s clear.  The Gate Stewards should be reminded that while everyone needs a friendly face, not all competitors are going to want to chat.  They may be nervous or focusing on their dog.  Please also remind the Gate Stewards that they should respect the space of ALL dogs, not just those with red bandanas.  The Element Lead will make sure the Gate Stewards get relieved for bathroom breaks and so they can watch some of the dogs work.  

Box Setters:

Two box setters will need to be assigned to the Container Search element.  

One will be responsible for handling the “hot” box(es)/container(s) – the ones with odor in them.  This person will not be able to touch anything else.  They will need paper towels to wipe off the containers.  Separately, they will need to wipe up spills – using a DIFFERENT paper towel from the one they used to touch the odor containers.  If they were to use the same paper towel to wipe off the odor container and then to wipe up the floor, they would be spreading that odor all over the floor.  They need to use their hands to handle the odor container(s) and not their feet or they will be spreading the odor with their feet.  This person will also be responsible for taking a damaged odor box out of the search area and replacing it with a clean odor box.  These will be in a pre-determined location.

The other box setter will be responsible for handling the non-odor (non-hot) container(s).  They will need to use paper towels (should have a separate roll from the person who is handling the odor) to wipe up slobber, spills, etc.  They cannot touch the odor containers at all – they will then contaminate all the clean containers.  “Clean” box setter will be shown where clean boxes are in case one needs to be replaced.

Score Runner:

The Score Runner will take the score sheets from the elements to the score room.  Contrary to the name, this job does not require the person run the scores back to the score room, but they should be mobile and able and willing to walk.  Depending on the flow, they may bring score sheets from several elements at once.  You should plan to have at least 1 for a 2-judge trial and at least 2 for a 4-judge trial.  

Judge’s Steward:

The Judge’s Steward is responsible for getting the dog/handler team from the last staging area to the element.  They will remind the handler of the time allowed, number of hides (NW1/NW2 only!), whether the search is on- or off-leash, and making sure the judge has the right score sheet.  They will also check the score sheet to make sure the judge filled out all the necessary boxes, wrote down the time, and signed it.  If the judge has any questions about how to score something, the Judge’s Steward should get the C.O.  Depending on the amount of available space, the Judge’s Steward may need to stay outside of the Interior search area.


Using a stop watch, the timer will time of each dog/handler team and report that time to the judge.  The timer should stand in the same place for each team so the start for each team will be as consistent as possible.  Timer will also do their best to give the team a 30 second warning.


The Videographer will video EVERY dog/handler team from the time they enter the element until they leave.  They will stand where directed by the judge or C.O. and will not follow the dog/handler team around (they will need to be able to move about some for the Vehicle element).

Volunteer Coordinator:

The Volunteer Coordinator (VC) is responsible for gathering all of the volunteer sign-ups and assigning people to work each day.  The VC will oversee the Element Leads, set-up and tear-down, and deal with any unforeseen problems, reassigning of jobs, etc. throughout the day.


Someone assigned by the Trial Host or VC who will be responsible for getting breakfast items, coffee, lunch items, and water for the volunteers.  The person in charge of hospitality will need to work with the Trial Host to determine if any of the judges or officials has any specific dietary requests.  They will also need to make sure lunch gets set aside for the judges who may not be able to get in to eat right away.  While we want to make sure everyone is fed, we particularly want to be sure the judges get food.

Score Room:

The Score Room Lead is retained by the Host from the approved NACSW list.  Several volunteers are assigned to assist the Score Room Lead and help in the Score Room – either all day or ½ day.  Ideally, you’d like at least 2 volunteers in the score room with the Score Room Lead.

Click on this link to go to sign up to volunteer: