Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Downey, Laura Hall.

Committee Member

Gallardo, Roberta.

Committee Member

Greenhaw, Laura L.

Committee Member

Sexton, Julie S.

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Agricultural Studies (Agricultural and Extension Education)

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


School of Human Sciences


The purpose of this study was to explore and to examine the relationship among Mississippi Master Gardeners’ characteristics, motives for volunteering as a Master Gardener, satisfaction serving as a Master Gardener, organizational commitment, and intention to leave the Mississippi Master Gardener Program. Specifically, this research sought to determine what drives or motivates Mississippi Master Gardener volunteers to volunteer, what satisfies them, and what makes these volunteers consider leaving the Mississippi State University Extension Master Gardener programs. This study used a descriptive survey research design to examine the relationship between the variables. Sixty-one items encompassed the five-part survey which was completed by volunteers. Part 1, volunteer characteristics, included 11 items. Part 2 motives for volunteering, included 30 items. Part 3, satisfaction, included three items. Part 4, organizational commitment, had 15 items. Finally, Part 5, intention to leave, consisted of three items. The sample size of this study was 600 Master Gardener volunteers from 44 of the 52 counties listed as active on the Mississippi State University Extension website at the time the study was conducted. These counties were selected using cluster random sampling. Electronic and paper surveys were used, with electronic surveys being completed by most respondents. Organizational commitment and satisfaction were the greatest predictors of intention to leave the Mississippi Master Gardener program. If volunteers are not satisfied with their positions or feel a strong commitment to the organization, there is a high probability of their leaving the organization, no matter how strong their commitment is to the organization or what motivates them to volunteer. Salas (2008) also found satisfaction to be a key predictor with intention to leave. These research efforts strive to increase the understanding of why Master Gardeners volunteer, with the hope that this knowledge will aid in strengthening the program in the future. Findings could improve organizational practices, volunteer training procedures or frequency of surveys to assess volunteer satisfaction or intention to leave or organizational products, publications or educational materials that support the Mississippi Master Gardener program.