The Effects of Volunteering on the Development of Place Attachment and Stewardship of Natural Places
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The purpose of this study was to explore how volunteers engaged in natural-area based projects develop attachments to the resource and act as stewards for these resources. The context of this study was the National Park Service's All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI) project. This project recruits citizen scientist volunteers to go out into the field with scientists to help collect and catalogue species in the park in an attempt to generate an all inclusive species inventory. Using data collected during indepth interviews and notes taken from participant observations, this study found ATBI participants' motivations to volunteer in the project were multifaceted and included (a) an attachment to the park, (b) an attachment to specific species, (c) the social bonds to other volunteers, (d) the bioblitz experience itself, (e) and/or the opportunity to learn about the natural environment. Analysis of the data also found volunteer informants had personal, well defined meanings attached to the resource prior to the inception of the ATBI project. Through participation in the ATBI project, however, the resource was experienced in a new way, with new meanings emerging while other established meanings were refined. It was found that these established, emerging, and refined meanings formed the foundation of the informants' attachments to the ATBI resource(s), which in turn became the basis for their stewardship of their respective parks, as well as feelings of stewardship for natural areas beyond park boundaries.