Date of Award

May 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management

Committee Member

Robert B Powell

Committee Member

Brett A Wright

Committee Member

Marc J Stern

Committee Member

Brandon T Frensley


To assess the training needs of environmental educators, a survey was designed and distributed to members of environmental education organizations. This survey included a list of 28 professional competencies representing five overarching areas that was compiled with a team of professionals and practitioners and informed by the North American Association for Environmental Education’s (NAAEE) Guidelines for Excellence (2019). Respondents to the survey were asked to rate each professional competency in terms of 1.) how important they think it is, and 2.) how well prepared they feel to perform it in their current position as an environmental educator. These two scores were used to create a Mean Weighted Discrepancy Score which measured the “gap” between importance and preparedness to perform. Competency items and areas with larger Mean Weighted Discrepancy Scores indicate a greater need for more high-quality training. Our results showed that environmental educators have the greatest need for increased and enhanced training in the areas of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and communicating about complex and controversial issues. We also found that environmental educators have different training needs based on their age and their level of experience. This information can be used by environmental education organizations and providers to prioritize professional development that will benefit their employees the most.



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