Embargo Period


Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

Dr. Kelly Teamey


This capstone examines a U.S. conservation nonprofit, referred to as Bojo-en, with the aim of learning from the perspectives of past international volunteers in regards to skill-building, professional development, and organizational support. This research aims to explore how a nonprofit can best support international volunteers in the hope that they will bring these skills home to implement in their own contexts, thereby contributing to the development of their home countries. This exploration is necessary to improve Bojo-en’s volunteer support, thereby benefiting future volunteers’ development and capacity-building and simultaneously benefiting the organization’s capacity and success in conservation. My research aims to address the question: From the perspective of international volunteers, how can a nonprofit organization best support their professional and personal development? It is my aim that this research serves as a model for nonprofits engaging international volunteers and provides best practices for supporting volunteers. I employed a sequential mixed methodological framework using phased methods of an electronic survey followed by one-on-one interviews with past international volunteers. From the data, common themes emerged that revealed the importance of including professional development and education in the international volunteer program. Despite the differing perspectives of past participants, there was the commonality of learning through experience, challenge, and reflection. The participants’ experiences led me to create a recommended educational component, consisting of five learning categories: environmental education and exchange, cross-cultural communication training, individual performance evaluation, personal growth and reflection, and training for team leaders.

Keywords: international volunteering, organizational support, professional development, sustainable development, capacity building, case study, grounded theory


Human Resources Management | Nonprofit Administration and Management | Training and Development