“Improving Conservation Education and Connecting Families to Nature Through Programs Targeting the Wildlife Values of the Public”

This multi-state initiative is a project of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies in cooperation with Colorado State University and the Children & Nature Network. It was designedto improve the conservation education efforts of state and province fish and wildlife agencies through development of more targeted educational initiatives that account for the wildlife values of the public. The focus was on improvement and greater regional coordination of agency strategies for connecting children and families to nature. Specifically, the project was focused on ensuring that the programming reaches diverse audiences and incorporates America’s changing wildlife-related interests.

Building on existing agency programs and wildlife values research conducted by Colorado State University, the project developed, implemented, and evaluated prototypical programs for connecting children and families to nature and promoting natural resource stewardship. The project was carried out in phases, beginning with an inventory of existing agency programs and ending with a series of trainings on how agencies can adapt and evaluate programs developed as a result of this effort. The project was funded via a grant awarded through the 2009 Multi-State Conservation Grant Program. Back-ground assessment research using surveys and focus group techniques to measure the wildlife values and barriers to participation in nature-based programs among target audiences has been conducted in the following participating states: Hawaii, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Montana, and South Dakota.