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Investigating volunteer retention at a small, municipal public garden




Mason, Tyler, author
Irlbeck, Nancy, advisor
Graves, Leila, committee member
Wallner, Barbara, committee member

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Volunteers are essential to the success of nonprofit organizations. Botanical gardens and arboreta utilize volunteers for guest services, public programs, grounds maintenance, field trips, and tours. Like other nonprofit organizations, botanical gardens face volunteer retention problems. Much psychological research has been conducted on volunteer behaviors, including factors that influence volunteer motivation, retention, and recruitment in adult 4-H volunteers leading youth educational programs. However, there is a deficiency in research focused on factors influencing volunteer retention in botanical gardens. Therefore, this mixed-methods study aims to fill that void by collecting and analyzing data gained through mailed questionnaires, field observations, and personal interviews. Triangulating these data sets revealed people are motivated to volunteer at a small, municipal public garden because they want to feel useful, enjoy learning, enjoy socializing, and want to belong to a community. Volunteers are motivated to keep coming back because they continue to learn, develop new friendships, feel a sense of accomplishment, and enjoy working with plants and people. Understanding what drives volunteers' actions provides a framework for improving the volunteer coordination program at the a small, municipal public garden.


2016 Spring.
Includes bibliographical references.

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