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Volunteer Background Check Resources

WSU Extension Volunteer Background Check Policy:


WSU is committed to the safety and security of all individuals who represent and take part in WSU programs and activities. To that end all persons employed by or who volunteer for WSU must complete a comprehensive background check. We prefer Volunteer screens to be completed via Sterling Volunteers, a third-party background check process that scrubs national criminal history records. Each Sterling Volunteer background screen is $14 regardless of Veteran or Emeritus Status. Background checks are required to be completed by volunteers every three years. Volunteers may choose to use a Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) fingerprint background check or other alternative background screening platform but WSU Extension Pierce County Master Gardener Program can only compensate for the Sterling Volunteer screening.

To complete membership re-application for 2023 you will need to have an updated and completed a background check by November 1st, 2022.  You may have filed your background check within the last two years which means you DO NOT have to submit another background check until that has expired.

Not sure if your background check is current? 

Current Sterling Background Screening Excel Spreadsheet as of 11/22/2022 —  11.22.22 Backgrounds

Each Sterling Volunteer background screen is $14. The applicant will need to pay this amount directly to Sterling. You will be prompted to pay once you have entered your information for the background check. If you need Financial assistance, please request that of your Coordinator, no proof of need is required. You will create a Sterling Volunteers account (username and password) to complete the background check securely. Sterling Volunteers recently purchased Verified Volunteers. There are still some references to Verified Volunteers on the webpages in the link. No need for concern if you see Verified Volunteers. Federal legislation providing permissions to complete background checks on employees and volunteers is found in the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Therefore, Sterling Volunteers requires you to read and verify that you have read the language. WSU will NOT collect credit information. Sterling Volunteers requires a Social Security Number to complete a comprehensive screen. Sterling Volunteers has information on the security of your information that you can read before you enter any personal information.

Please click on this link to pay for and submit your Sterling Volunteer Background Check.

This link is specific to Pierce County Master Gardeners, so it is important to use it rather than just going to Sterling’s website main page. If while on the Sterling website you find yourself “lost in the system”, you may be asked to enter a “Good Deed” code to navigate back to the appropriate page. Pierce County’s “Good Deed” code is: l8jickq

Review this document for guidance and Frequently Asked Questions in processing your background check.

The following options are available for volunteer background checks:

  1. Sterling Volunteers: This is the preferred method. Sterling Volunteers is the only option available for volunteers who need the Program to pay for the background check. If you are needing the program to pay for your background check please contact the program coordinator,
  2. WSU Extension will accept a Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) fingerprint background check. The FBI labels this as an Identity History Summary Check. Options for accessing an FBI Identity History Summary Check can be found at Identity History Summary Checks — FBI. An Identity History Summary Check will only be accepted with the following provisions:
    • The volunteer is responsible for paying for the fingerprint check.
    • The FBI fingerprint check must be a full criminal background check (Identity History Summary Check).
    • The report produced by the FBI Identity History Summary Check must be delivered directly to: Jana Ferris, WSU Extension Volunteer Specialist, PO Box 370, Marysville, WA 98270 or
  3. A volunteer may use an alternative background screening platform if they are able to have the screening report submitted directly to the Volunteer Specialist or WSU Extension personnel. As of May 5, 2021, IntelliCorp has been approved as an alternate vendor. Prior to using an alternative platform, including IntelliCorp, please contact the Extension Volunteer Specialist for specific requirements.