Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Natural Resources

First Advisor

Kristine Stepenuck


Engaging the public in scientific research through volunteer monitoring (a form of community science) has potential to expand knowledge of conditions and to improve collaborative decision-making. Many studies have sought to understand motivations for participation and potential resulting actions or behaviors that benefit the environment. Place-based connections have been demonstrated to lead people to adopt environmentally responsible behaviors. However, few studies have considered possible differences in motivations across countries or the role place attachment may play as a driver of initial or sustained participation.

The aim of this research was to determine the extent to which place attachment influences people’s decision to volunteer for stream-based water monitoring programs in three countries: the United States, Canada, and New Zealand. This pilot study applied a mixed-method approach to assess and compare motivations of volunteers via an online survey of 101 individuals and follow-up semi-structured interviews with a subset of survey participants (n = 25).

Findings revealed place attachment is a motive for volunteers to participate in stream monitoring, along with concern for water resources, learning/engagement, and direct involvement in science. A statistically significant relationship (p < .05) was found between gender and motivation categories of place attachment and direct involvement in science. Some experienced volunteers indicated participation in monitoring over time enhanced their attachment to place. These findings suggest that programs seeking to gain and sustain volunteers and to create a more environmentally engaged community might focus outreach on identifying potential volunteers with existing person-place bonds and nurturing connections to place with existing volunteers.



Number of Pages

164 p.