Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 27–41 | Cite as

Ecological restoration volunteers: the benefits of participation

  • Irene Miles
  • William C. Sullivan
  • Frances E. Kuo


There is an international volunteer movement to protect and restore sensitive natural landscapes. In Illinois alone, almost 40,000 acres of rare prairie, oak savanna, wetlands and woodland ecosystems in urban and suburban communities are monitored and managed by volunteers. As natural habitats disappear or become degraded worldwide, it is increasingly important to understand how a personal involvement with nature, in the form of restoration, benefits the individual as well as aiding in species and ecosystem survival. This study examined the satisfactions that volunteers derive from prairie restoration in the Chicago metropolitan area. Questionnaire responses from 263 volunteers indicate that volunteers experience high levels of many different satisfactions. Tenure, frequency and extent of involvement in restoration were used to predict restoration satisfactions, life satisfaction and life functioning. Implications for recruiting and sustaining volunteer involvement in restoration efforts are discussed.

restoration volunteers benefits satisfactions life satisfaction life functioning participation prairies 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Allen, L. R. and Beattie, R. J. (1984) The role of leisure as an indicator of overall satisfaction with community life. J. Leisure Res. 16, 99-109.Google Scholar
  2. Beard, J. G. and Ragheb, M. G. (1980) Measuring leisure satisfaction. J. Leisure Res. 15, 20-33.Google Scholar
  3. Becker, C. (1995) Chief of the Division of Natural Heritage for Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Personal Communication.Google Scholar
  4. Bedeian, A. G., Ferris, G. R. and Kacmar, K. M. (1992) Age, tenure, and job satisfaction: a tale of two perspectives. J. Vocational Behavior 40, 33-48.Google Scholar
  5. Begley, T. M. and Czajka, J. M. (1993) Panel analysis of the moderating effects of commitment on job satisfaction, intent to quit, and health following organizational change. J. Appl. Psych. 78, 552-6.Google Scholar
  6. Burton, P. J., Robertson, K. R., Iverson, L. R. and Risser, P. G. (1988) Use of resource partitioning and disturbance regimes in the design and management of restored prairies. In The Reconstruction of Disturbed Arid Lands: An Ecological Approach. (E.B. Allen, ed.). Westview Press, Boulder, CO.Google Scholar
  7. Butler, C. D. (1967) Introduction to Community Recreation. McGraw-Hill, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  8. Canin, L. H. (1991) Psychological restoration among AIDS caregivers: maintaining self-care. Ph.D. diss., Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.Google Scholar
  9. Cimprich, B. (1990) Attentional fatigue and restoration in individuals with cancer. Ph.D. diss., Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.Google Scholar
  10. Coles, R. (1993) The Call of Service: A Witness to Idealism. Houghton Mifflin, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  11. Cowell, C. (1993) Ecological restoration and environmental ethics. Environmental Ethics 15, 19-32.Google Scholar
  12. Cnaan, R. A. and Goldberg-Glen, R. S. (1991) Measuring motivation to volunteer in human services. J. Appl. Behavioral Sci. 27, 269-84.Google Scholar
  13. DeYoung, R. (1986) Some psychological aspects of recycling: the structure of conservation satisfactions. Environment and Behavior 18, 435-49.Google Scholar
  14. Fisk, S. J. (1995) Psychological effects of involvement in ecological restoration. Ph.D. diss., Wright Institute. Berkeley.Google Scholar
  15. Garreau, J. (1991) Edge City. Doubleday, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  16. Gidron, B. (1983) Sources of satisfaction among service volunteers. J. Voluntary Action Res. 12, 20-35.Google Scholar
  17. Hall, D. and Gordon, F. (1973) Career choices of married women: effects on conflict, role behavior and satisfaction. J. Appl. Psych. 58, 42-8.Google Scholar
  18. Hartig, T., Bowler, P. and Wolf, A. (1994) The psychological ecology of ecological restoration. Restoration and Management Notes 12, 133-7.Google Scholar
  19. Higgs, E. (1997) What is good ecological restoration? Conservation Biology 11, 338-48.Google Scholar
  20. Jordan, W. (1986) Restoration and the reentry of nature. Orion 5, 14-25.Google Scholar
  21. Jordan, W. (1989) Restoring the restorationist. Restoration and Management Notes, 7(2), 55.Google Scholar
  22. Jordan, W. (1994) Sunflower forest: ecological restoration as the basis for a new environmental paradigm. In Beyond Preservation, Restoring and Inventing Landscapes(A. D. Baldwin, J. DeLuce and C., Pletsch, eds.) Univ. of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, MN.Google Scholar
  23. Kaplan, R. (1973) Some psychological benefits of gardening. Environment and Behavior 5, 145-62.Google Scholar
  24. Kaplan, R. (1993) The role of nature in the context of the workplace. Landscape and Urban Planning 26, 193-201.Google Scholar
  25. Kaplan, R. and Kaplan, S. (1982) Cognition and Environment: Functioning in an Uncertain World. Praeger, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  26. Kaplan, R. and Kaplan, S. (1989) The Experience of Nature: A Psychological Perspective. Cambridge Univ. Press, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  27. Katz, D. and Kahn, R. (1978) The Social Psychology of Organization. John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  28. Kraus, R. (1971) Recreation and Leisure in Modern Society. Appleton-Century Crofts, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  29. Light, A. and Higgs, E. S. (1997) The politics of ecological restoration. Environmental Ethics 18, 227-47.Google Scholar
  30. Mathieu, J. E. (1991) A cross-level nonrecursive model of the antecedents of organizational commitment and satisfaction. J. Appl. Psych. 76, 607-18.Google Scholar
  31. McQuillan, A. G. (1998) Defending the ethics of ecological restoration. J. Forestry 96, 27-31.Google Scholar
  32. Miller, H. and Terborg, J. (1979) Job attitudes of part-time and full-time employees. J. Appl. Psych. 64, 380-6.Google Scholar
  33. Naiman, R. J., Magnuson, J. J. and McKnight, D. M. (1995) Freshwater ecosystems and their management: a national initiative. Science 270, 584-5.Google Scholar
  34. Nelson, A. (1992) Characterizing exurbia. J. Planning Literature 6, 350-68.Google Scholar
  35. Nevius, J. (1994) Volunteer to help restore the land. Chicago Tribune, June 4, p. 15.Google Scholar
  36. Packard, S. (1988) Just a few oddball species: restoration and the rediscovery of the tallgrass savanna. Restoration and Management Notes 6, 13-20.Google Scholar
  37. Packard, S. and Mutel, C. F., eds (1997) The Tallgrass Restoration Handbook for Prairies, Savannahs, andWoodlands. Island Press, Washington DC.Google Scholar
  38. Ragheb, M. (1993) Leisure and perceived wellness: a field investigation. Leisure Science 15, 13-24.Google Scholar
  39. Schramm, P. (1990) Prairie restoration: a twenty-five year perspective on establishment and management. Proceedings of the Twelfth North American Prairie Conference. University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA, pp. 169-77.Google Scholar
  40. Singer, R. N. (1976) Physical Education Foundations. Holt, Reinhart and Winston, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  41. Stokes, S. (1989) Saving America's Countryside: A Guide to Rural Conservatism. John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.Google Scholar
  42. Weinstein, N. D. and Manzo, L. C. (1987) Behavioral commitment to enviromental protection: a study of active and nonactive members of the Sierra Club. Environment and Behavior 19, 673-93.Google Scholar
  43. Westphal, L. M. (1993) Birds do it, bees do it, but why do volunteers do it? A look at motivations. Proceedings of the Midwest Oak Savanna Conference. Northeastern Illinois Univ., Chicago, IL.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Irene Miles
    • 1
  • William C. Sullivan
    • 1
  • Frances E. Kuo
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Natural Resources and Environmental SciencesUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, W-503 TurnerUrbana

Personalised recommendations