Citizen scientists: Unveiling motivations and characteristics influencing initial and sustained participation in an agricultural project.

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    • Abstract:
      Citizen science, where non-specialists collaborate with scientists, has surged in popularity. While it offers an innovative approach to research involvement, the domain of agri-environmental research participation, particularly in terms of citizen recruitment and retention, remains relatively unexplored. To investigate how what factors influence initial and sustained participation in an agronomic citizen science project, we performed a large survey during the case-study "Soy in 1000 Gardens". We obtained data on citizens motivations, general values, environmental concern, prior citizen science experience, and knowledge regarding sustainable food consumption and garden management and applied a two-step selection model to correct for potential self-selection bias on our participation outcomes. Initially, citizen scientists appear to be mostly motivated by gaining knowledge, having fun social interactions and environmental concern with regards to the effects on others, while the desire for enhancing or protecting their ego is less prominent. They also display higher knowledge and self-transcending values. Sustained participants however, are significantly older and share a stronger sense of moral obligation than their dropped-out counterparts. Moreover, prior experience seems to positively influence the length of their participation, while higher knowledge has a positive impact on the amount of data contributed. These insights offer strategies for tailored engagement that should emphasize collective impact, align with intrinsic values, and foster a sense of moral duty, with potential to enhance agri-environmental citizen science initiatives' effectiveness in addressing environmental challenges. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
    • Abstract:
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