The natural environment benefits greatly from the work of volunteers in environmental stewardship programmes. However, little is known about volunteers' motivations for continued participation in these programmes. This study looked at the relationship between volunteer commitment and motivation, as well as the effect that volunteering has on participants' behaviour and attitudes toward the environment. The study participants were 148 long-term volunteers from three environmental stewardship programmes in Michigan. The results of the study revealed that helping the environment and learning were important initial motivations. Other motivations, including social factors and project organization, were found to be significant predictors of volunteer commitment. Volunteers also indicated many significant changes in their environmental outlook and actions during their involvement in stewardship activities. The results of the study suggest that stewardship programmes that consider volunteers' changing motivations at different stages of their participation can effectively nurture personal growth while fostering a powerful constituency for the environment among their volunteers.
Ryan, Robert L.; Kaplan, Rachel; Grese, Robert E. 2001. Predicting volunteer commitment in environmental stewardship programmes. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 44(5):629-648