Horticulture Volunteer Retention in Public Gardens

Jones, Linda
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University of Delaware
In times of budget constraints, public gardens explore ways to maintain existing services without increasing expenditures. Therefore, volunteer programs are an important component of the human resources at many organizations and should be managed to optimize their efficiency. A volunteer program model to help manage and decrease volunteer turnover was created based on current literature and interviews with coordinators of volunteers at selected public gardens. This model was compared to the horticulture volunteer programs at three case study sites: Chicago Botanic Garden, Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, and Holden Arboretum. The volunteer program model includes: a philosophy statement, policy for operation of the program, a volunteer manual, needs assessment for volunteers at the organization, work descriptions, recruitment, interviewing and inviting volunteers to the program, orientation and training, evaluation, dismissal of problematic volunteers, record keeping, recognition, and maintenance of healthy relationships between paid staff and volunteers. Coordinators of volunteers were interviewed regarding the management of their horticulture volunteer programs and retention at their gardens. The results indicate the case study gardens are not actively managing horticulture volunteer turnover. However, the selected public gardens are currently implementing some of the components in the volunteer model. The results of this study will provide coordinators of volunteers, public garden directors, and human resource personnel with the necessary information to understand volunteer retention and should help decrease the volunteer turnover rate at their public gardens.
Human resources , Volunteer management , Retention , Turnover