Img 7272 Img 7272

Is Environmental Volunteerism Overrated?

One of the most significant benefits of environmental volunteerism is its ability to empower individuals to take meaningful personal actions for the planet but is it overrated?

When we talk about volunteering in the environment it might involve anything from planting trees and cleaning up beaches to advocating for animal rights and wildlife conservation. These various projects are brought together by a common goal of preserving the environment for  now and future generations.

One of the most significant benefits of environmental volunteerism is its ability to empower individuals to take meaningful personal actions for the planet.

In this article, we let Ugandan climate activist and Financial Director at Earth Volunteers, Samuel Tenywa lead the conversation and he said…

When I first worked as a volunteer, it was in 2019 with youth organisations like Friday for Future Uganda and Green Futures Uganda, where we focused on greening schools and educating students about climate change to raise awareness in the Masaka district schools. Owing to the several simultaneous events, there comes a period when we burn out from the amount of labor we perform as volunteers and the limited resources available, which limits us to performing as best we can during the action.

(Samuel Tenywa holding a sapling – Photo: Earth Volunteers)

There is a lot of disarray, which makes it difficult for us volunteers to understand our responsibilities while we are volunteering. Additionally, there is a good chance that we won’t be hired because every year a new employee is hired, which makes us feel as though we aren’t giving it our all even though we joined with enthusiasm and love, which deters us from volunteering.

I also became a member of the Earth Volunteers, and Fair Ventures Uganda joining campaigns that planted more than 5000 trees to establish a forest, promoting wildlife habitat in the Mukono District and boosting biodiversity in the neighbourhood. 

Through networking with civil society organisations and the government, we have gained experience working with a variety of age groups and groups of people to achieve community goals. Volunteering also helps us discover our strengths and abilities because it exposes us to a wide range of tasks that enable us to perform them to the best of our abilities.

(Uganda Teaching Volunteer Program – Photo: Go Volunteer Africa)

However environmental volunteerism offers numerous personal benefits, ranging from improved mental and physical well-being to enhanced skill development and networking opportunities. Statistics in a recent research that was conducted by Americans’ Changing Lives data sets (1986, 1989, 1994) reveals that volunteering does lower depression levels for those over 65, while prolonged exposure to volunteering benefits both populations.

Some of the effect of volunteering on depression among the elderly is attributable to the social integration it encourages, but the mediating effect of psychological resources is very small. Volunteering for religious causes is more beneficial for mental health than volunteering for secular causes but, again, the effect is confined to the elderly.

And according to another research conducted by Volunteer Scotland, indicated not only the positivity but also the negative part of it Volunteering participation outside school, such as fundraising for a youth group, declines dramatically in areas of deprivation with 50% of young people who go to a school with no pupils in the lowest group in the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation volunteering compared to 16% of those who are from a school where at least 60% of pupils come from the lowest group in the index.

Those living in rural areas (65%) are more likely to volunteer than those in urban areas (49%) and 58% of girls volunteer compared to just 46% of boys.

Matthew Linning, head of research at Volunteer Scotland, said the report on the whole was good news and suggested there are likely to be a number of factors behind the big increase such as incentives offered by the likes of the Saltire Awards and Duke of Edinburgh, young people being encouraged to volunteer by parents and teachers and young people looking to gain skills and experience for their CV in an increasingly tight job market.

(Volunteering in Africa with African Impact)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *