Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management

Committee Chair/Advisor

Elizabeth Baldwin

Committee Member

Kyle Barrett

Committee Member

Corliss Outley

Committee Member

Aby Sene-Harper


For many reasons, humans are less connected to nature. Research shows that people who feel more connected to nature are more likely to have pro-environmental intentions. One possible way to strengthen the human-nature connection is to involve the public in wildlife research, exposing them to local wildlife in a way that highlights science. This dissertation investigates two such projects, the 2019 Clemson Barred Owl Project and the Trout in the Classroom (TIC) program, to understand the effects of interacting with local species through wildlife research.

Interviews were conducted with participants and the lead researcher of the Clemson Barred Owl Project in order to gain an understanding of the effects of participation in the project and what aspects of the project made it especially successful. These studies revealed that stronger connections with local wildlife species were formed, and this connection led participants to think more about their environmental impacts, leading them to more pro-environmental behaviors and that certain aspects of the project and research led to the project’s success in facilitating positive interactions between the public and wildlife.

The study investigating the effects of participation in TIC involved conducting interviews and surveys with students and teachers who are a part of TIC. Student interviews and surveys revealed some common outcomes of participation in the project, including stronger feelings of connection, greater pro-environmental intentions, increased acknowledgment of responsibility, and awe for the complexity of the environment.



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