Youth Outdoor Recreation Experience, Race, and Socioeconomic Status: Explaining Connection to Nature and Future Career Interest


  • N. Qwynne Lackey SUNY Cortland
  • Lisa Meerts-Brandsma University of Utah
  • Jeff Rose University of Utah



outdoor recreation careers, connection to nature, youth recreation participation, diversity


The outdoor recreation industry faces the challenge of recruiting the next generation of professionals. This study examined factors that may influence young adults’ interest in outdoor recreation careers, including participation in organized and unorganized outdoor recreation as a youth, connection to nature (CTN), racial identity, and socioeconomic status (SES). An online questionnaire was distributed using a Qualtrics panel, and criterion sampling was used to ensure the sample included participants with approximately equal representation across racial identity and SES categories. Participation in unorganized recreation, CTN, and SES were found to be significant predictors of interest in outdoor recreation careers. Additionally, participation in organized recreation was found to be a significant negative predictor of CTN, while participation in unorganized recreation and racial identity were significant positive predictors of CTN, and CTN had a small mediating effect on the relationship between unorganized recreation participation and interest in outdoor recreation careers.


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Coalition for Education in the Outdoors Special Issue 2022