Growing Plants, Growing People: Older volunteers in botanic gardens
Volunteering in botanic gardens presents itself as one way to enable people to engage with the natural environment. But what do we know about how older people engage with botanic gardens?
What motivates them to volunteer their time to help out in various ways in the gardens? What are the benefits to older volunteers, and how do the gardens and the wider community benefit?
This study set out to explore older people’s engagement in volunteering at botanic gardens. It investigated what roles they played, what benefits they gained and what impact their efforts had. It was designed to give us a fuller picture of productive ageing through volunteering roles.
The premise behind this study was that if the levels of engagement that older people have with botanic gardens were better defined and evidence-based, the benefits from volunteering could be improved, and the lessons learned applied in other gardens and communities.
The study confirmed and quantified the value of volunteering to older Australians. For most volunteers, the personal benefits gained included feeling valued, meeting other people and keeping an active mind. There were also benefits for the gardens, garden staff and the wider community.
This study supplements earlier work by the National Seniors Productive Ageing Centre that quantified the enormous economic benefit to volunteering by older Australians.
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