A robust body of research has identified three primary life experiences that foster a lasting commitment to active care for the environment. These are: time spent enjoying nature, especially during childhood; a close, often familial, role model for nature appreciation; and participation in a nature or environment focused organization that offers direct learning opportunities. Family nature clubs (FNCs) bring groups of families together to explore nature on a regular basis – thus fulfilling all three of these experiences. This study used ecological psychology, attachment and family systems theories, and community psychology to create a framework for understanding how these experiences can come together in the form of FNCs to foster pro-environmental behavior as well as individual, familial, and community well-being. The methodologies of ethnography, case study and action research and the methods of direct observation, surveys, and most-significant change interviews were used. The study population was the leaders in and participants of FNCs, including Columbia Families in Nature, a FNC I founded. Study results incorporate data from 47 FNCs and over 350 participants. More than twenty distinct positive outcomes of FNC participation were identified in the areas of: greater knowledge of and sense of connection with nature; more time spent in nature; enhanced individual and familial well-being; stronger social connections; and greater environmental and social action. The youth nature experiences of the adult participants was found to be significantly related to their current sense of connection to nature (p < 0.001) and level of environmental action (p=0.03). Family time in nature was found to be significantly related to connection with nature (p=0.007), environmental action (p=0.02), and social action (p=0.03).
|Commitee:||Charles, Cheryl, Chawla, Louise, Walant, Karen|
|Department:||Education / Sustainability Education|
|School Location:||United States -- Arizona|
|Source:||DAI-A 76/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Environmental education, Social psychology, Sustainability|
|Keywords:||Action research, Care for the environment, Family nature clubs, Social movements, Time in nature, Well-being|
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