Development, Implementation, and Evaluation of Intergenerational Nature-Based Programs at Schmeeckle Reserve
Alexander, Melissa M
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, College of Natural Resources
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Natural and cultural history programs serve as a learning tool and social outlet for visitors, yet the Stevens Point, WI area does not have many available during summer months. Schmeeckle Reserve, a natural area associated with the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, found that stakeholders are interested in program offerings in the summer. A series of summer programs was developed and evaluated to determine the best ways to engage intergenerational groups during nature-based programming to influence behavior change that will potentially increase participation in outdoor activities. The program content focused on using group based activities to explore various habitats found in the Reserve to study interactions between group members through a qualitative approach. Thirty-seven individuals participated in programs. Sixteen participants were adults and twenty-one were youth. Throughout this research, observations, focus groups, murals, and post-program interviews were used to collect data. This information provided insight into family interactions as well as their experiences during the program. The programs were successful in providing an overall positive experience for participants and exposing them to various habitats at Schmeeckle Reserve. The study found that intergenerational groups are best engaged through physical learning and exploration. Using a variety of techniques during programming helps reach all types of learners. Participants from this study went on to explore more outdoor areas on their own or reviewed information from programs. Additional nature-based programs given in the winter or skill-based programs could benefit the residents and visitors in the Stevens Point area.