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The Role of Volunteerism in Sea Turtle Conservation Management

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Sarkar, S.
Conference: Capturing the Complexity of the Commons, North American Regional Meeting of the International Association for the Study of the Commons
Location: Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
Conf. Date: Sep. 30-Oct. 2
Date: 2010
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/6561
Sector: Wildlife
Region: North America
Subject(s): education
citizen organization
resource management
Abstract: "Wildlife and its management is an ‘old’ concern of common pool resource theory. This paper explores new ways of managing of an ‘old’ commons. With a decrease in government spending in various conservation programs, the role of volunteers in conservation has expanded. In programs like the North Carolina Sea Turtle Project (NCSTP), volunteers are authorized to conduct the day-to-day monitoring and management activities of the State. There are few studies exploring the experiences of volunteers as extensions of state management. How do volunteers see themselves contributing to wildlife conservation? Are they empowered in their roles as volunteers acting on behalf of the state? To answer such questions, eleven focus groups were conducted with volunteers who engage in monitoring of sea turtle nesting beaches in North Carolina. This research examines the ways in which volunteer engagement in education and science may contribute to their empowerment. Analysis suggests that many volunteers consider education an essential part of their experience and value their role as educators. As a result of their positive experiences with education and outreach, many volunteers felt empowered by their roles. In contrast, volunteers displayed varying opinions about science and degrees of satisfaction about their role as scientific data collectors. In this regard, they are less confident in assuming the responsibilities of the state. Although this new model of management capitalizes on volunteer labor and enthusiasm, it creates new challenges for management, some of which arise from relations between the state and volunteers, rather than the nature of the commons itself."

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