Designing an extension Climate Stewards volunteer program: incorporating sense of community, social practice, and self-efficacy theories
This paper examines the feasibility of developing a new Master Volunteer training program to help communities adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change. Traditional models of volunteer training programs, such as the Cooperative Extension Master Volunteer peer-to-peer learning model, are based in part on Diffusion Theory. The existing model of education could provide a useful base upon which to develop a volunteer training program about climate change but requires more depth. Data were collected using a mixed-method approach, consisting of focus groups and a survey among key stakeholders associated with the Cooperative Extension Service in the Northeastern United States. The results demonstrate the need for a climate change Extension volunteer training program, one that extends beyond the traditional deficit model of information sharing and is developed with a comprehensive theoretical approach to climate change education that focuses on collective action, as opposed to individual action. Based on emergent themes, this paper presents a theoretical framework for a new volunteer training program based on Social Practice, Sense of Community, and Self-efficacy theories. The proposed program could be successful, provided it encompasses a learning model that fosters social practices, feelings of a sense of community, and builds self-efficacy.