Functional Motivations of Interpretive Volunteers at Como Park Zoo and Conservatory
Ricks, Bethany Amanda
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, College of Natural Resources
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Interpretation is an important part of education at zoos and aquariums, and volunteers are frequently a part of those interpretive programs. Understanding the motivations of those volunteers helps to increase volunteer retention, decreasing time spent on recruitment and training. The functional approach to volunteer motivation examines volunteer motivation by looking at what function volunteering plays in a person’s life. These functions include values, understanding, enhancement, protective, career, and social motivations. These functions can be assessed by the Volunteer Functions Inventory (VFI), as developed by Clary, Snyder, Ridge, Copeland, Stukas, Haugen, & Meine (1998). This study uses the VFI to assess motivation among interpretive volunteers at Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. Quantitative analysis of the VFI results comparing functional motivations across demographics shows that there is a negative correlation between age and Career factor, a negative correlation between length of volunteer service and Career factor, and a positive correlation between number of areas trained to interpret and Protective factor. Understanding differences between the motivations of different demographics may inform volunteer training and support.