Your local Babywearing International group is made up entirely of volunteers. These volunteers spend countless hours behind the scenes keeping the group running, but many have also studied and been tested on their babywearing knowledge to ensure that the information they pass on to others is helpful, safe, and accurate. All volunteers have their specialties – some may be self-professed SSC lovers and some may be total woven wrap geeks – but each volunteer is proficient in all methods of babywearing and happy to pass on their knowledge to others. These volunteers are part of what make meetings happen and keep the organization running….but what exactly is with all these crazy letters, and how do you become one?
VBE = Volunteer Babywearing Educator
Often all educators, regardless of “rank,” are referred to as VBEs – and all educators (though not all volunteers!) start out as VBEs! Before becoming a VBE, the babywearer should be proficient with their chosen style of carrier and also knowledgeable about other types of carriers. VBEs must pass a written assessment that demonstrates basic knowledge of all types of carriers and safe babywearing, as well as good teaching ability. Once their written assessment is approved and another local leader gives the regional director their official recommendation, the prospective VBE will meet with a Master Babywearing Educator for an assessment either in-person or via video conference. They will be asked to demonstrate various carries and carriers in person, asked to describe how they would teach someone else to use those carries or carriers, and asked to troubleshoot hypothetical problems that we often run into in the real world. Existing volunteers will mentor you through the process, and larger chapters will sometimes even hold VBE classes to get everyone up to speed on carriers they may not be as familiar with and frequent issues they run into with new babywearers while teaching. You’ll recognize VBEs, ABEs, and MBEs by their orange headbands.
ABE = Advanced Babywearing Educator
After being a VBE for a while (6 months minimum), many volunteers will choose to become an ABE. Moving up to this step requires a board-approved project (some will do a research project, some a focused video project, etc) and another, more in-depth assessment. In addition to the basics they were tested on before, ABEs are required to know more about all the carries and carriers, and also be familiar with the basics of tandem babywearing and other more advanced babywearing practices. ABEs are also required to take a more active role in helping out with the group.
MBE = Master Babywearing Educator
MBEs are currently the highest rank of volunteer within the organization. These are the people that really keep things running, taking leadership roles in local, regional, and sometimes national capacities. Volunteers may apply to become an MBE after being an ABE for 6 months. They must again complete an approved project, a written assessment, and an in person skills assessment. This time, the focus is on teaching and training new volunteers and handling especially tricky teaching situations.
CSV = Chapter Service Volunteer
Want to help out with the group or at meetings, but don’t want to go through all the training and skills assessments? Though a VBE must still be present at each meeting, CSVs are invaluable to many chapters, especially larger ones! Tasks will vary depending on chapter needs, but CSVs may help with meeting setup, lending library check outs or check ins, handling memberships and finances, or a bevy of other things. Many CSVs will wear a white headband with orange accents to meetings.
Be sure to thank your chapter volunteers for all their time, dedication, and hard work. If you are interested in becoming a VBE or CSV, contact your local chapter leaders to start the process!