Informal education on an estuary nature trail : a study of visitor knowledge, attitudes, and behavior Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/d217qt89m

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  • The Mark 0. Hatfield Marine Science Center (HMSC) public education opportunities include interpretive programs offered along the Estuary Nature Trail. The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of three informal education programs, interpretive signs, a self-guided trail brochure, and guided naturalist walks, in imparting information on the ecology of estuaries to visitors. A second objective was to determine visitors attitudes towards estuarine and wetland conservation issues. A questionnaire including knowledge and attitude statements and demographics was distributed to 901 participants. Results show that the three programs are effective in teaching visitors about estuarine ecology, with the naturalist walks being the most effective. Knowledge of estuarine ecology and attitudes towards estuarine and wetland conservation issues were associated with visitor characteristics such as level of education, membership in a conservation organization, residence proximity to wetlands, awareness of local wetland controversies, and previous visits to an estuary trail. Observations of visitor behavior along the estuary trail showed that visitor groups spent an average of 16 minutes on the trail. At each interpretive sign between 54 and 77% of the visitors were observed reading the information; those reading times ranged from 16 to 33 seconds per sign.
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