Date of Submission


Document Type



Doctor of Education




youth volunteers, rural museums, educational partnerships, youth leadership development, Situational Leadership Theory, Leader-Member Exchange Theory


Rural museums play active roles within their communities. They provide opportunities for community members to volunteer and engage as patrons. The museum within this Organizational Improvement Plan (OIP) is the hub of culture and tourism for a small town in Ontario. It has a solid volunteer base made up of town citizens. These individuals participate because they have an innate interest in the culture and heritage of the town. A weakness to the volunteer base is that there is no active policy or practice to involve youth as volunteers or in leadership roles. This OIP suggests that the museum partner with local high schools to actively recruit youth volunteers. A change plan has been created with actionable results to increase youth participation at the museum. This will serve two main purposes: to utilize and introduce youth to the museum, and to identify youth who seek greater involvement and leadership opportunities from the site. This plan highlights the importance of youth participation through volunteering as well as leadership experiences such as creating youth-driven programs directly associated with culture and heritage. This involvement can provide youth with authentic leadership experiences that can further their educational, career, and civic engagement pursuits. This OIP centres on Situational Leadership Theory (SLT) and Leader-Member Exchange Theory (LMX) as its primary change theories. These theories emphasize the attainment of institutional and individual goals by focusing on hierarchical leadership through social and community partnerships.