The question of what motivates individuals to become conservation volunteers is a critical question for numerous conservation programs that help maintain and improve the environmental quality in modern society. Drawing on literature from the fields of volunteer work, social psychology, leisure, program evaluation and environmental studies, I developed a theoretical framework that explores the connection between motivation and outcomes. Based on this framework, I used a mixed-method approach -- combining surveys and interviews of Minnesota Master Naturalist volunteers -- to better understand what motivates individuals to become conservation volunteers and the outcomes of their efforts. The Minnesota Master Naturalist Program is a volunteer program that educates adults about Minnesota's natural resources and provides opportunities to take part in local conservation projects. I found that both a psychological connection to nature and sense of community both affect conservation volunteer work. A connection to nature both helped initial and sustained participant motivation for conservation volunteer work. A connection to nature is likely an essential characteristic of a conservation volunteer. For most participants this connection began in childhood and volunteering as an adult helped them to stay connected to nature. Shared environmental values may be one of the more important aspects of building a sense of community for conservation volunteers. An extensive training class was a good opportunity for participants to build a sense of community. After an intensive training class, the strong sense of community diminished likely due to a lack of frequent interaction. Creating opportunities for participants to continue to interact after the class may help maintain a sense of community. Conservation volunteer work benefits the environment, the volunteer, and society.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. September 2009. Major: Conservation Biology. Advisors: Robert Blair and Karen Oberhauser. 1 computer file (PDF); viii, 136 pages, appendices A-C.
Guiney, Margaret Savanick.
Caring for nature: motivations for and outcomes of conservation volunteer work..
Retrieved from the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy,
Content distributed via the University of Minnesota's Digital Conservancy may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor.