An Exploratory Study of How a Community Involvement Program Can Benefit Both Schmeeckle Reserve and Potential Participants
Espe, Megan K.
College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
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This research aimed to explore how a community involvement program can meet the needs of Schmeeckle Reserve and address the motivations and barriers to involvement among potential participants. Schmeeckle Reserve, a 280-acre natural area at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, has never had a community involvement program such as a volunteer or membership program. Its directors hope such a program will garner community volunteers, advocates, and donors. Methods included interviews with community involvement program coordinators to discover their groups’ successes and challenges; an analysis to determine Schmeeckle Reserve’s goals for community involvement; a questionnaire to identify community members’ interest in volunteering at Schmeeckle Reserve; and focus groups with community members willing to discuss their motivations and barriers to involvement. The results show alignment between the reserve’s goals for community involvement and participants’ motivations. The research uses those results to recommend that Schmeeckle Reserve strengthen its volunteer program and develop a membership program. Overall, the study also describes a planning process that could be used by other natural areas that want to develop community involvement programs.