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Motivations and Needs of Volunteers within School-Based Agricultural Education Programs. A critical shortage of well-trained agriculture teachers has plagued the profession for decades (Smith et al., 2019), with teacher turnover and excessive work hours being cited as contributing factors (Sorensen et al., 2016). School-based agricultural education (SBAE) is a demanding profession (Torres et al., 2008), but one way to relieve the excessive workload and possibly prevent turnover among agriculture teachers is through the utilization of volunteers. Understanding the motives for why people volunteer in SBAE programs can provide insights and recommendations for preservice teacher training, inservice teacher professional development, and stakeholder (e.g., national and state FFA alumni organizations) programming. The purpose of this study was to identify the motivations and needs of volunteers within SBAE programs. The specific objectives include: 1) Describe the characteristics of SBAE volunteers; 2) Describe SBAE volunteer motivations; and 3) Describe training needs of SBAE volunteers. Utilizing a snowball convenience sample, I distributed an anonymous online survey to SBAE volunteers in Utah and Oregon. The survey instrument consisted of the 30-item Volunteer Functions Inventory (VFI) scale (5-point Likert-type scale) to measure motivations to volunteer (Clary et al., 1998). I also asked participants to list topics they thought they needed for professional development training. I also asked participants about their volunteer roles, amount of time they volunteer, and some demographic questions. A total of 112 usable surveys were collected and analyzed. An analysis of early and late responses indicated no significant non-response bias (Lindner et al., 2001). The majority of respondents were female (72%), the mean age of the participants was 11.89, and the mean number of years as an SBAE volunteer was 11.58 years. The most common volunteer role reported was a member of an organized FFA Alumni group (36.8%), followed by a non-formal group of volunteers (21.5%). Overall, participants reported focusing most of their volunteering efforts on FFA activities (M = 56.49% of the time) followed by community engagement activities (M = 29.45% of the time), and classroom-related activities (M = 23.66% of the time). The findings indicate the three greatest motives for volunteering were career motives, protective motives, and enhancement motives. When asked which topics would be most beneficial for training to help them be more effective volunteers, they most commonly reported 1) a list of opportunities and resources available; and 2) volunteer leadership-related topics (how to establish a formal organization, recruitment strategies, officer/leadership training, etc.). Participants also suggested a lack of communication between the local SBAE teacher and the volunteers needs improvement. Based on the findings, it seems SBAE volunteers are mostly motivated because of the benefits to their own career pursuits. With this in mind, SBAE teachers might develop volunteer recruitment resources that capitalize on career advancement or opportunities. With the need for more resources and leadership training, I recommend that state and national alumni organizations work more closely with SBAE teachers and local SBAE volunteer groups to provide training and needed resources. I also recommend SBAE teachers increase communication with their alumni groups. Perhaps more training to preservice teachers could be provided by teacher educators regarding the utilization and management of volunteers in SBAE programs which addresses communication, leadership training, and opportunities with volunteer groups. This training should include how to utilize volunteers in more than just FFA and community engagement (e.g., SAE).

Publisher

Utah State University

Publication Date

12-10-2020

Disciplines

Educational Technology

Motivations and Needs of Volunteers within School-Based Agricultural Education (SBAE) Programs

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