Profound changes are occurring in the American public’s connections to nature, the outdoors, and wildlife. Participation in traditional, nature-based recreation is stagnant or declining, Americans are spending more time indoors, and they are using electronic media more than ever before. At the same time, there is growing evidence that human health and wellbeing depend on beneficial contact with nature. Rather than being a mere recreational amenity, connection with nature is a biological and cultural necessity.
To better understand and foster Americans’ relationship with nature, Dr. Stephen Kellert* and DJ Case conducted an unprecedented study of nearly 12,000 adults, children and parents across the United States in 2015-16. Researchers paid particular attention to factors like race and ethnicity, age, residential location, and income.
DJ Case recently released relevant findings to various groups inside and outside of the conservation community:
- American adults and children’s values of and interests in nature, as well as their behaviors, memories, and influences
- Barriers and facilitators to contact with nature
- Support for nature-based programming and attitudes toward conservation
- Variation across race and ethnicity, location, age, political views, and more
With these results, the conservation community will be better equipped to provide the programs and services needed to connect Americans and nature, for the benefit of both.
Three different research methods were used, and each was closely integrated with the others.
- 15 focus groups in five of the largest and fastest-growing states (n = 119)
- Surveys of 10,156 adults across the country
- An interview with children ages 8-12 (n = 771) and a survey of the parent of each child (n = 771)
Find out more at NatureofAmericans.org.
* Dr. Stephen Kellert was a professor emeritus and senior research scholar at the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and a leader and pioneer in the theory and science of human relationships to nature and wildlife. He passed away in late 2016.