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Prepared by

LEAPS for Environmental Literacy:
a

Meaningful Engagement with the Environment

June 2015

Leadership & Evaluation to Advance Program Success

Table of Contents
Cluster Study Overview

3

Participant Overview

10

Experiences in the Environment

17

Connection to the Environment

24

Participant Interest and Plans for the Future

28

Takeaways for the Field

30

LEAPS Cluster Studies: Meaningful Engagement with the Environment

Cluster Study Overview

The Path to Cluster Studies
 Seventeen LEAPS organizations have engaged in ongoing technical assistance to
develop their evaluation capacity since October 2012. During the first phase of this
initiative, organization representatives attended trainings focused on foundational
evaluation and learning concepts: theories of change, logic models, evaluation plans,
tool development, data analysis techniques, and communicating effectiveness. They
also engaged in a range of leadership capacity building activities.
 In the phase that followed and with continued support from the S.D. Bechtel, Jr.
Foundation, Learning for Action worked with clusters of organizations to develop
shared measures around three cross-cutting areas of interest. The cluster study work
arose out of an opportunity for the cohort to begin to document its collective story –
which was further emerging after Phase I’s work – and the desire to advance
organizations’ evaluation capacity through the hands-on, group learning experience
this type of project would provide. Organizations worked together to define and form
the clusters, collect data, and analyze the emerging stories.

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LEAPS Cluster Studies: Meaningful Engagement with the Environment

Cluster Study Topic
Organizations in the Meaningful Engagement with the Environment cluster recognize that
engaging youth in meaningful environmental experiences requires continuing to evolve our
understanding of how young people define their environments, connect with it, what is
meaningful to them, and how this engagement can influence youth’s
perspectives/worldview.

Organizations posit that if youth have meaningful engagements with their environment,
then they will be stewards for their environment, regardless of the pathway they choose
(e.g. they can seek careers in non-environmental fields and still work towards conservation).
This cluster hoped to explore how younger youth experience the environment through their
programs and how older youth/long-term participants and/or alumni describe the impact of
their engagement in programs. Understanding how youth define and experience their
environment and later continue to make meaning of their environment, will not only help
these organizations better understand their participants, the relevance, and effectiveness of
programming, but also help the field learn from the diverse audiences that these
organizations successfully engage.

5

LEAPS Cluster Studies: Meaningful Engagement with the Environment

Cluster Study Topic

We explored:
 What are the ranges of ways that young
people growing up in diverse urban
communities engage with the environment?

 How does the experience of Bay Area youth
change or influence our understanding of proenvironmental behavior, if at all?
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LEAPS Cluster Studies: Meaningful Engagement with the Environment

Cluster Study Organizations
Kids In Parks is
an experiential,
environmental education
program embedded in
several Bay Area
elementary and middle
schools that teaches youth
about their natural
surroundings and natural
resources through
studying, exploring, and
stewarding parks and
open spaces.

The San Francisco Zoo’s
(SF Zoo) environmental
education volunteer
programs engage
teenagers in animal
care, habitat
restoration, Zoo visitor
education, and
leadership
development.

7

Richardson Bay
Audubon Center &
Sanctuary (Audubon)
operates as a program of
National Audubon Society
and focuses on waterbird
conservation. Their
Audubon Youth Leaders
program engages high
school students in
environmental education
with an emphasis on
leadership
development.
Literacy for
Environmental Justice (LEJ)
is an urban park
revitalization and community
stewardship program in
Candlestick Point State
Recreation Area. Their Bay
Youth for the Environment
program is a science-based,
after-school environmental
education work program that
engages high school aged,
community youth in the
restoration project.

LEAPS Cluster Studies: Meaningful Engagement with the Environment

Our Approach
• We started the exploratory study with focus groups of youth to hear in their own
words, how they engage with the environment and how they define their
environment.
Focus Groups • We then created measures to explore meaningful engagement based on what they
shared in the focus groups.

Participant
Survey

• The survey had common measures across all three cluster study organizations.
• Each cluster study organization administered the survey to program participants.
Five programs are represented from the San Francisco Zoo, and one program is
represented from Audubon and from Literacy for Environmental Justice.

• Though cluster study organizations implement different program models, we
combined all survey results for our analysis to explore the relationships between
outcomes. In addition to providing summary results of the survey measures,
Combined
Survey Results statistically significant findings are highlighted throughout where applicable.

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LEAPS Cluster Studies: Meaningful Engagement with the Environment

Strengths & Limitations of Our Approach
Strengths

The survey tool was constructed based
on the findings from our focus groups
with youth and how they expressed
understanding of and connection with
the environment.

Our survey sample is diverse, with a
range of race/ethnicities.

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Limitations

Data collection took place in the winter,
which meant that some organizations
could not reach as many youth as they
would have at a different time of year,
nor could they include in the survey
summer programs.

Given that the survey was not
implemented with youth younger than
7th grade, we were unable to hear about
the experiences of youth under that age
(however, we did hold one focus groups
with 6th graders).

We only reached a small group of
alumni through the surveys for two of
the cluster study organizations.

The survey was administered
anonymously, increasing the likelihood
of candid responses.

LEAPS Cluster Studies: Meaningful Engagement with the Environment

Participant Overview

Focus Group Overview
2 with

Kids in
Parks

6th & 7th
graders

The San
Francisco
Zoo

Richardson
Bay
Audubon
Center &
Sanctuary
Literacy for
Environmental
Justice

11

1
1

Photo Credit: Audubon

We held five focus
groups with 32 total
participants.

1
Photo Credit: SF Zoo

LEAPS Cluster Studies: Meaningful Engagement with the Environment

Survey Response Rates

50%
One half of
youth invited
to take the
survey
submitted a
response.

12

100%

7

53 %
8

47 %
57

72

LEAPS Cluster Studies: Meaningful Engagement with the Environment

Survey Respondent Demographic Data:
Gender

2%

68

29%

8

7
43%

38%

53
2%

26%
69%

57%

63%

72%

Females make up over
two-thirds of the
combined sample.
transgender
male
female
The sum of the percentages may be more or less than 100% due to rounding.

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LEAPS Cluster Studies: Meaningful Engagement with the Environment

Survey Respondent Demographic Data:
Ethnicity
68
American Indian/ Alaskan
Native

7
2%

American Indian/
Alaskan Native

Asian/ Asian American
Black/ African American

Latino/ Hispanic

40%

13%

Pacific Islander/ Native
Hawaiian
White/ Caucasian

27%
15%

29%
14%

Latino/ Hispanic

Middle Eastern/North
African

Bi-racial/ Multi-racial/
Mixed Race

Asian/ Asian American
Black/ African
American

4%

14%

29%

8

53

American Indian/
Alaskan Native

American Indian/
Alaskan Native

Asian/ Asian American

25%

Asian/ Asian American

Black/ African American

25%

Black/ African
American

Latino/ Hispanic

Middle Eastern/North
African
Pacific Islander/ Native
Hawaiian

Middle Eastern/North
African
Pacific Islander/ Native
Hawaiian

White/ Caucasian

White/ Caucasian

Bi-racial/ Multi-racial/
Mixed Race

14%

Bi-racial/ Multi-racial/
Mixed Race

Latino/ Hispanic

13%

43%

11%

Middle Eastern/North
African
Pacific Islander/ Native
Hawaiian
25%
13%

White/ Caucasian
Bi-racial/ Multi-racial/
Mixed Race

30%
15%

Asian/Asian American youth (40%) make up the largest
proportion of youth that submitted the survey. Moreover,
the majority of the survey sample is youth of color.
The sum of the percentages may be more or less than 100% due to rounding.

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LEAPS Cluster Studies: Meaningful Engagement with the Environment

Survey Respondent Demographic Data:
Free or Reduced Lunch
7

69

8

54

23%
29%

14%
86%

48%

Does not
know
Does
not
know
Receives free
or reduced
lunch lunch
Receives
free
or reduced
Does not
receive
free or
reduced
lunch
Does
not
receive
free
or reduced
lunch
The sum of the percentages may be more or less than 100% due to rounding.

15

13%
25%

26%
22%

63%

52%

Except for one organization, the largest
proportion of youth report not receiving
free or reduced lunch (48%).

LEAPS Cluster Studies: Meaningful Engagement with the Environment

Survey Respondent Involvement with
Cluster Study Organization
72

<1 1-2

7
3+

years in the program

<1

8

1-2

years in the program

<1

years in the program

57

<1

1-2 3+

years in the program

17%
21%

43%

43%

33%

57%

40%

100%

46%

Most survey respondents have been
involved with the organizations for two
years or less.

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LEAPS Cluster Studies: Meaningful Engagement with the Environment

Experiences in the Environment

What Do Youth Mean by
Environmentalism?
 Youth define environmentalism as taking care of
and improving their environment and being
knowledgeable about environmental issues.
 Youth also cite that a component of
environmentalism is spreading awareness about
environmental issues and information on how to
care for and protect the environment.
It means stewardship. Taking care
of the land, our surroundings,
ourselves, and plants, everything.
-LEJ Participant

Environmentalism
means taking action
and helping a cause
for the environment.
-Audubon Participant

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How
to
protect
the
environment and things in
the environment whether
it’s yours or not.

Trying to stay in touch with
nature as much as possible and
trying to raise awareness for it as
much as you can so other people
can spread the word and you
know sooner or later people go
out of their way to pick up trash
and clean up streets.
-SF Zoo Participant

The words that stick out to me
the most would probably be
awareness, intertwined, and
conservation and the quote by
Albert Einstein about how being
silent about something that
you don't stand for is just as
bad as going against it.
-Audubon Participant

-SF Zoo Participant

LEAPS Cluster Studies: Meaningful Engagement with the Environment

Youth Thoughts On and Experiences With
the Environment

When youth were asked what comes to mind when they think
about the environment they shared how interconnected all
components of the environment are and how they affect each
other. Many shared specifically how humans have affected the
environment and how we need to protect and conserve it.
Youth shared that exploring or doing outdoor activities as the
main way they engage with the environment including walks
on the beach, exploring their backyard, skating through the city,
and walking in the city/nature.
Who have you learned the most about the
environment from?
a. Staff from a program I participate in
b. Myself / exploring the outdoors on my own
c. Classroom teacher
d. Television or the internet
e. Books or newspapers
f.. My parent or legal guardian
g. My friends
h. Sisters or brothers
i. Other members of the community
j. Other
k. Grandparents
l. Other family members

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When I hear environment I kind of
think of how like how deeply our
lives
intertwine
with
the
environment.
When
I
say
environment I just don’t think one
thing: I think public health, policy,
politics it’s all so connected – one
example why in a certain
neighborhood students aren’t doing
well in school – higher here not over
here, why is transportation more
reliable over here.
-LEJ Participant

Percentage
Checked
(n=72)

29%
19%
19%
8%
6%
6%
4%
3%
3%
3%
0%
0%


Youth cite learning about the environment the
most from program staff (29%).

LEAPS Cluster Studies: Meaningful Engagement with the Environment

Youth Gain New Experiences As A Result
of Participating in These Programs
Through this program, I …
a. Experienced new things
b. Got to do something outdoors I wouldn’t get to do
otherwise
c. Practiced new skills
d. Developed more knowledge about topics related to the
environment (such as plant species, wildlife, outdoor activities,

3%

No, I
disagree
(2)
0%

Yes, I
agree
(3)
36%

Yes! I
strongly
agree
(4)
61%

0%

6%

34%

59%

3.5

0%

4%

40%

56%

3.5

0%

3%

44%

54%

3.5

3%
11%
11%
9%
15%
17%

49%
33%
44%
48%
26%
30%

49%
56%
44%
43%
55%
50%

3.5
3.5
3.3
3.3
3.3
3.3

9%

44%

46%

3.3

17%

36%

44%

3.2

17%

37%

37%

3.0

No! I
strongly
disagree
(1)

Average
(n=54-70)

3.6

restoration, environmental issues in my community, etc.)

0%
e. Learned more about the environment around me
0%
f. Engaged in hands-on activities
0%
g. Created something or worked with my hands
0%
h. Expanded my sense of community
5%
i. Practiced being a leader
3%
j. Was challenged to get out of my comfort zone
k. Shared my experiences with others (such as pointing out a
plant or animal to a friend or parent, discussing something I
1%
learned in program, etc.)
3%
l. Worked hard to build something
m. Went on cool trips (such as hiking, canoeing, backpacking,
9%
camping, etc.)
The sum of the percentages may be more or less than 100% due to rounding.

When looking at the measure about challenging youth out of their comfort zone in comparison to measures about
the changes they experienced as a result of participating in these programs, youth report stronger agreement
with: being more aware of their surroundings***, understanding how the personal choices they make each day
affect the environment***, in speaking up and talking with friends and family about issues that affect the
environment**, in thinking about the things they want to change in the environment**, and in thinking about the
environment on a more personal level than they did before**.
* = p<.05; ** = p<.01; *** = p<.001

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LEAPS Cluster Studies: Meaningful Engagement with the Environment

Factors that Facilitate or Hinder Exploring
the Environment
I find it easiest to explore the environment when…

Percentage
Checked
(n=72)

a. I have friends to explore the environment with
68%
54%
b. I have staff from a program teach me about the environment
c. I have staff from a program help me explore the environment
40%
d. I can explore the environment on my own
39%
e. I have learned about the environment in school
33%
f. I need quiet time outside or alone time
29%
g. I go out with my parents/family to explore the environment
19%
The sum of percentages may exceed 100% because respondents were allowed to check all that
apply.

Exploring the environment is facilitated by having
friends to do so (68%) followed by having program
staff teach youth about the environment (54%).

Photo Credit: Kids in Parks

I find it hardest to explore the environment when…

Percentage
Checked
(n=72)

a. I don’t have enough time
72%
b. I don’t have transportation to where I want to go outdoors
44%
c. I don’t have the supplies for the activity I want to do outdoors
29%
d. I don’t have someone to guide or teach me about the outdoors
29%
e. I’m alone (don’t have anyone to go outdoors with)
24%
f. I don’t feel safe
24%
g. I don’t have permission from parents/guardian to go outdoors
18%
h. I don’t have extra clothing or shoes that are ok to get dirty while outside
7%
The sum of percentages may exceed 100% because respondents were allowed to check all that
apply.

Photo Credit: LEJ

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Not having enough time made it hardest for youth
to explore the environment (72%).

LEAPS Cluster Studies: Meaningful Engagement with the Environment

Youth Find the Most Value in…

In focus groups, youth shared that their favorite aspects of the
programs include exposure to new experiences, hands-on learning,
relationship building, and working with others.
What are or were the most valuable parts of the
program for you?

NOT AT
ALL
Valuable

A LITTLE
Valuable

2%
2%
a. Spending time in nature
2%
3%
b. Hands on learning
0%
4%
c. Doing fun activities outdoors
1%
3%
d. Exploring outdoors
0%
6%
e. Learning about the environment and different species
2%
6%
f. Creating or working with my hands
3%
6%
g. Trying new things
0%
9%
h. Learning specific skills
3%
5%
i. Becoming more familiar with my surroundings
0%
14%
j. Meeting new people/making new friends
5%
9%
k. Field trips
3%
16%
l. Spending time with friends
3%
19%
m. Sharing what I learn with others
5%
19%
n. Classroom instruction
5%
29%
o. Class projects
The sum of the percentages may be more or less than 100% due to rounding.



Valuable

VERY
Valuable

Average

21%
23%
27%
26%
25%
25%
24%
32%
42%
35%
40%
39%
52%
63%
47%

76%
73%
69%
67%
69%
67%
68%
59%
51%
51%
46%
42%
27%
14%
19%

3.7
3.7
3.6
3.6
3.6
3.6
3.6
3.5
3.4
3.4
3.3
3.2
3.0
2.8
2.8

(n=57-71)

I really love the hands-on activities I think it
really puts it in your heart instead of just in your
head.
-Audubon Participant

Working outside with other people.
-LEJ Participant

Photo Credit: Audubon
Youth survey responses suggest programs provide valuable opportunities for youth. Ratings are quite high for spending time in nature
and hands on learning (3.7) as well as for a variety of other measures of the value of learning outdoors.
When we explore the relationship between the highest rated factors that make it easiest to explore the environment and the most
valuable aspects of the programs, we find that youth who have friends to explore the environment with are more likely to find highest
value in being able to spend time with friends (avg.=3.4)**.
For youth who said that having staff from a program teach them about the environment made it easiest to explore the environment,
they were more likely to report doing fun activities outdoors (avg.=3.8)** and trying new things (avg.=3.7)* as most valuable.
* = p<.05; ** = p<.01; *** = p<.001

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LEAPS Cluster Studies: Meaningful Engagement with the Environment

Youth Become More Comfortable with the
Environment in a Variety of Ways
 Youth shared in the focus groups that they
like being pushed out of their comfort zone.
Has participating in this program
changed how comfortable you feel
doing the following?

No change
(1)

I feel A
LITTLE more
comfortable
(2)

9%
7%
a. Talking to others about the environment
9%
11%
b. Helping the environment
11%
12%
c. Observing nature
9%
14%
d. Talking to others about animals or insects
12%
11%
e. Observing animals or insects
12%
10%
f. Exploring nature
16%
14%
g. Handling animals or insects
16%
16%
h. Hiking
15%
21%
i. Gardening
23%
13%
j. Camping
16%
16%
k. Exploring the city or Bay Area
26%
27%
l. Exploring my local neighborhood
43%
16%
m. Exploring my front or back yard
The sum of the percentages may be more or less than 100% due to rounding.


I feel More
comfortable
(3)

49%
41%
38%
42%
44%
52%
34%
43%
40%
34%
54%
30%
31%

I feel A LOT
More
comfortable

I like being with this program
getting outside of my comfort
zone and trying something
new than being where I live at
and not seeing a lot of plants
or trees or stuff like that.

-LEJ Participant

Average
(n=56-70)

(4)

36%
39%
39%
35%
33%
27%
36%
25%
24%
30%
13%
17%
10%

3.1
3.1
3.1
3.0
3.0
2.9
2.9
2.8
2.7
2.7
2.6
2.4
2.1

Photo Credit: SF Zoo

We see highest ratings for increased comfort in observing nature, talking to others
about the environment, and helping the environment (avg.=3.1).
Youth who found it easiest to explore the environment when they have program
staff teach them about the environment were more likely to report feeling more
comfortable exploring the city or Bay Area (avg.=2.8)*.
* = p<.05; ** = p<.01; *** = p<.001

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LEAPS Cluster Studies: Meaningful Engagement with the Environment

Connection to the Environment

Connection to the Environment
After participating in this program, …
a. I am more aware of my surroundings
b. I see how everything in the environment is connected
c. I understand how the personal choices I make each day affect the environment
d. I think of the environment on a more personal level than I did before
e. I am interested in learning more about the environment
f. I feel a personal responsibility to help protect the environment
g. I feel personally affected by environmental conditions in my community
h. I feel a sense of freedom when I get to go out in nature
i. I am interested in helping the environment through whatever career I choose, even
if it is not directly related to the environment
j. I participate in activities that help the environment like recycling, composting,
conserving water, picking up litter, etc.
k. I think about things I want to change in the environment
l. I want to spend more time in the environment with my family or friends
m. I am aware of environmental issues facing my community
n. I want to be more active in my community
o. I speak up and talk with friends and family about issues that affect the environment
p. I feel less stress when I am in nature
q. I feel safe being outdoors
The sum of the percentages may be more or less than 100% due to rounding.

25

No Change

A Little Change

More

A Lot More

Average

(1)

(2)

(3)

(4)

(n=65-69)

7%
6%
7%
7%
9%
11%
11%
12%

10%
16%
18%
15%
13%
15%
17%
12%

46%
43%
37%
43%
37%
33%
32%
38%

36%
34%
38%
35%
40%
41%
40%
38%

3.1
3.1
3.1
3.1
3.1
3.0
3.0
3.0

9%

21%

30%

40%

3.0

10%

13%

42%

35%

3.0

9%
13%
13%
9%
20%
20%
21%

20%
18%
15%
25%
12%
23%
21%

33%
31%
37%
38%
35%
31%
39%

38%
38%
35%
28%
33%
26%
19%

3.0
2.9
2.9
2.9
2.8
2.6
2.6

Youth who found it easiest to explore the environment when they have program staff teach them about the environment were more likely to report:
o Feeling safe being outdoors (average=3.0)***.
o Being interested in learning more about the environment (average=3.4)**.
o Being more aware of their surroundings (average=3.4)**.
o Understanding how the personal choices they make each day affect the environment (average=3.4)**.
o Speaking up and talking with friends and family about issues that affect the environment (average=3.2)**.
o Feeling a personal responsibility to help protect the environment (average=3.3)*.
o Being interested in helping the environment through whatever career they choose, even if it is not directly related to the environment
(average=3.3)*.
o Thinking about things they want to change in the environment (average=3.2)*.
o Being more aware of environmental issues facing their community (average=3.2)*.
* = p<.05; ** = p<.01; *** = p<.001

LEAPS Cluster Studies: Meaningful Engagement with the Environment

Meaningful Engagement Is…
I have been able to participate in
the process of restoring native
populations in my community,
and observe nature and how it is
affected directly. This is very
important to me, because it
gives me an opportunity to step
up and participate, instead of
merely watching others do the
work.

[The program] makes me want
to go out in the environment a
bit more. Before the program I
just wanted to stay inside all
my life. Now when I get older I
would want to sort of explore
different environments.
-SF Zoo Participant

Audubon has expanded my
horizons about the health of
ecosystems
and
the
environment in general. I find
the hands-on experiences
most valuable because I learn
things [on] a personal level.
-Audubon Participant

-SF Zoo Participant

My most meaningful experience
is practicing my leadership skills
and learning about my Bayview
community every week. I have
grown as a leader and now take
ownership of my community. I
feel a sense of belonging. This is
were I should be present. From
participating
in
LEJ,
new
opportunities
with
college,
scholarships, employment and
internships have also risen. LEJ is
helping my present and future.

The first day [of the program] I
didn't walk outside the house
or go down to the beach, but
now if I get here early I'm
always exploring around and
walking around.
-Audubon Participant

-LEJ Participant

Photo Credit: LEJ

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LEAPS Cluster Studies: Meaningful Engagement with the Environment

I am committed to living a life of stewardship to the environment. I
am careful on what I consume: food, products, and transportation. I
understand that I can vote with my dollar. I choose now to spend my
money wisely and understand where my money is going. For example,
given the choice of purchasing from Walmart or my local farmers
market for food, I ask myself what am I supporting. From my research,
Walmart underpays and overworks its workers. Most of the products
are made from exploited international labor. It's not a surprise its
products are cheap. I have been admitted to Humboldt State
University, where there is a strong program focused on careers in the
green job sector. I am planning to study Environmental Studies with a
focus on Social Justice in college. I hope to find a field where I am most
passionate. What ever it may be, I plan to apply the environment and
get my teaching credential so I can teach in elementary, middle, and
high schools as well as in parks, youth programs and rec centers. I
also want to gain outdoor skills such as camping, making a fire,
survivor skills and understanding of wild life and plants.
-LEJ Participant

Participant Interests and Plans for
the Future

Future Interest in Pro-Environmental
Activities

In focus groups, youth indicated an array of ways they will use what they have learned about the
environment in their future including going outside more, consider how their actions affect the
environment and changing their behaviors to support the environment, continuing to learn and
share environmental knowledge, and going into environmental careers.
In open-ended responses, many youth shared that they have plans to pursue majors that will teach
them more about the environment. Furthermore, youth report an expanded sense of future
opportunities and many are interested in using their career to care for the environment.
How interested are you in participating
in the following activities in the future?

Not at all
interested
(1)

A little
interested
(2)

Interested
(3)

a. Exploring nature
b. Helping the environment
c. Observing nature
d. Hiking
e. Handling animals or insects
f. Exploring the city
g. Camping
h. Talking to others about animals or insects
i. Talking to others about the environment
j. Observing animals or insects
k. Gardening
l. Exploring my local neighborhood
m. Exploring my front or back yard

0%
2%
0%
2%
3%
3%
4%
3%
2%
4%
5%
6%
14%

9%
9%
12%
16%
15%
9%
15%
16%
19%
13%
20%
22%
24%

20%
27%
37%
24%
25%
36%
23%
29%
29%
38%
36%
39%
41%

The sum of the percentages may be more or less than 100% due to rounding.

Very
interested
(4)

71%
63%
52%
58%
58%
52%
58%
52%
50%
45%
39%
33%
21%

I’m thinking about expanding
my knowledge and also
passing it on and not just
stopping it there.
-LEJ Participant

Average
(n=63-69)

3.6
3.5
3.4
3.4
3.4
3.4
3.3
3.3
3.3
3.2
3.1
3.0
2.7

Photo Credit: Kids in Parks

Youth who found it easiest to explore the environment when they have friends to explore the
environment with were more likely to report wanting to explore the city in the future
(average=3.5)*.
* = p<.05; ** = p<.01; *** = p<.001

29

LEAPS Cluster Studies: Meaningful Engagement with the Environment

Takeaways for the Field

Takeaways for the Field
 Youth focus group and survey responses both reinforced and expanded the
way we understand meaningful engagement and stewardship. Ahead of
traditional conservation measures (such as recycling, conserving water,
picking up litter) youth show greatest gains in more personal dimensions of
their relationship to the environment, including being aware of their
surroundings, seeing everything as connected, understanding how personal
choices influence the environment, interest in learning about the
environment, and sense of responsibility to protect the environment.
 For many of these youth, what they learn and experience in programs will
inform their future plans and interests. For organizations interested in
creating the next generation of environmental stewards, continuing to
facilitate real-life connections to the environment and supporting youth to
engage in meaningful ways, may help youth to continue to explore and
support the environment regardless of the pathway they choose.

31

LEAPS Cluster Studies: Meaningful Engagement with the Environment

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