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Aging and the Environment: Promoting Environmental Civic Engagement and Volunteering among Older Adults. Linda P. Wagenet, Ph.D. Cornell Institute for Translational Research on Aging. Program Priorities. Respond to the call for new meaningful roles for older persons

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Aging and the Environment: Promoting Environmental Civic Engagement and Volunteering among Older Adults

Linda P. Wagenet, Ph.D.

Cornell Institute for Translational Research on Aging


Program priorities l.jpg
Program Priorities Engagement and Volunteering among Older Adults

  • Respond to the call for new meaningful roles for older persons

  • Satisfy the need for a corps of trained, effective volunteers to tackle problems of environmental protection and sustainability


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Summary of Proposed Program Engagement and Volunteering among Older Adults

  • Community-based project to increase social engagement among older persons

  • Program development and evaluation research project

  • Collaboration of

    • Cornell University

    • Cornell Cooperative Extension Associations

    • NYS County Offices for the Aging

    • Local environmental agencies


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Elements of Proposed Program Engagement and Volunteering among Older Adults

  • Curriculum development

  • Specially-designed training in environmental issues and leadership

  • Internships for program participants in environmental organizations

  • Multifaceted, comprehensive research evaluation


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Program benefits Engagement and Volunteering among Older Adults

For participants

  • Improved physical and psychological well-being

  • Increased social integration

  • Growth in environmental knowledge and community leadership skills

    For communities

  • Increased number of environmental volunteers

  • Increased expertise of volunteers


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Work to date Engagement and Volunteering among Older Adults

  • Funding from Hatch and Smith-Lever for three year program development (salary)

    • Pilot project in Tompkins County Spring 2008

  • Applications to several foundations

  • Collaboration with multi-service elder center in Florida

  • Survey of environmental organizations and older volunteers


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Survey Engagement and Volunteering among Older Adults

  • Internet-based survey with 48 environmental organizations in NYS

  • Personal interviews with older volunteers

  • Responses to three research questions:

    • How are older volunteers utilized by environmental organizations?

    • How elder-friendly are environmental organizations?

    • What motivates older adults to volunteer in environmental organizations?


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How are volunteers utilized? Engagement and Volunteering among Older Adults


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How elder-friendly are environmental organizations? Engagement and Volunteering among Older Adults

  • 56% of organizations surveyed recruit older volunteers.

  • 40% of organizations surveyed adapt activities specifically for older volunteers.

  • 28% of organizations provide different functions for older volunteers.


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What motivates older adults to volunteer in environmental organizations

Four typologies

  • The Scientist: opportunity to put professional expertise to good use post-retirement

  • The Sportsman: life-long interests in hunting, fishing and related outdoor activities (all men)

  • The Generative Environmentalist: deep concern – even anguish – about deterioration of the natural environment, particularly with an eye toward the future

  • The Socializer: highlights the social relationships and recognition received through volunteer activity


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Survey Conclusions organizations

  • Older environmental volunteers have money, time, a college degree, and are generally satisfied with their lives.

  • There is a sense of generativity among older environmental volunteers.


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RESP organizationsRetiree Environmental Stewards Program

  • Adapt tested model from Rutgers Cooperative Extension (applied to older adults)

    • Training in environmental issues

    • Placement into an internship or completion of a class project


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RESP organizationsRetiree Environmental Stewards Program

  • Training in environmental stewardship

    Proposed modules

    • Using Retirement Years Productively

    • Retiree & Environment

    • Local Environmental Management & Decision-Making

    • Local Land Preservation Issues

    • Sustainability & Energy Issues

    • Lakes & Watersheds

    • Conflict Resolution Techniques

    • Communication & Leadership

    • Intergenerational Programs & Environment


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RESP organizationsRetiree Environmental Stewards Program

  • Placement of each trainee into an internship or class project

    Potential locations

    • Watershed organizations

    • State parks

    • Municipal environmental agencies


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Contact information organizations

Linda P. Wagenet

CITRA

EMAIL: [email protected]

PHONE: 607.254.7460

FAX: 607.254.2903


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