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Effects of an Environmental Education Program on the Environmental Orientations of Children from Different Gender, Age, and Ethnic Groups

Nina S. Roberts, Asuncion T. Suren

Abstract


The Crissy Field Center (CFC) is a partnership between the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, the National Park Service, and The Presidio Trust. Since 2001, the CFC has engaged urban youth along with mentors and supporters in recreation, education, and environmental leadership programs within the Golden Gate National Parks. Located in San Francisco, they operate a variety of year-round community and educational programs. An evaluation research study was conducted on two key programs: Inspiring Young Emerging Leaders (I-YEL) for high school teens and Urban Trailblazers (UT) for middle school students. The purpose of this study was to understand program impact and evaluate its effectiveness as a model for leadership development among urban youth. This was accomplished by investigating each program’s outdoor recreation opportunities, environmental program curriculum, and approach to cultivating leaders. Four focus groups were conducted in 2006 with 43 ethnically diverse participants, including alumni, ranging in age from 11-22 years. Six key themes emerged: motivation to join program, contribution to environment, social awareness and outreach, personal growth and leadership, aided school performance, and healthy lifestyles. Results reveal how the CFC encourages youth to make healthy choices that benefit the environment, enhance personal courage, and engender leadership skills. Findings can be used to assist the Crissy Field Center and similar organizations with enhancing the program structure as well as designing effective leadership curriculum. Finally, implications and recommendations for future research are provided.

Keywords


Urban youth, leadership development, evaluation, national parks, outdoor education

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