The Institutes for Educational Research in NSW, SA and WA
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Natural Sciences
This research paper introduces the concept and practice of tertiary sciences students doing environmental volunteering, also known as conservation volunteering, as a core part of their course. First year Natural Sciences students at Edith Cowan University do five days environmental volunteer work with community groups as a practicum, currently known as Workplace Integrated Learning (WIL). Initial research data displays the number of volunteer hours done by students in various types of activities, locations and organisations. Preliminary quantitative evaluations and qualitative comments demonstrate students’ positive attitudes and outcomes from their volunteering experiences. Definitions and classifications of volunteering and WIL from current literature are discussed as part of the curriculum design review process. Initial data from host organisations and students suggests that volunteering, and environmental volunteering in particular, can contribute to employability skills, although the program needs to be evaluated as one component of an integrated program of WIL that the students are required to complete. Students learn about potential careers and the environment industry’s reliance on volunteers. Students learn and practise specific skills (e.g. animal handling) and contribute to communities and the environment.