The impacts of the North Carolina Arboretum's ecoEXPLORE program on children's connection to nature

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Meghan McDevitt-Garand (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site:
Andrew J. Bobilya

Abstract: Outdoor experiences are a vital component in child development and wellness; however, more and more children spend less time outside. This phenomenon became even more evident during the COVID-19 pandemic, with device usage among children increasing drastically around the world. Lack of time outdoors and increased device usage may inhibit the cultivation of connection to nature (CTN) and lead to poor conservation ethics and negative environmental attitudes. However, one program, ecoEXPLORE, embraced technology as a way to foster outdoor exploration and teach children about their local environment. EcoEXPLORE, founded in 2016, is a predominantly online program that mediates outdoor experiences for North Carolina children through citizen science and online resources. In this current age, devices are not going anywhere, and this mixed-methods study on ecoEXPLORE discovered an online, science program that increased CTN among program users.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2022
citizen science, connection to nature, conservation, ecoEXPLORE, environmental education, environmental psychology
Outdoor education
COVID-19 Pandemic, 2020-
Web-based instruction
Environmental psychology

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