Design, Implementation, and Evaluation of a Year-Long Environmental Education Preschool Program for Children ages 2-5 and their Parents at Aldo Leopold Nature Center
Von Dollen, Tara L.
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, College of Natural Resources
MetadataShow full item record
The purpose of this study was to design, implement, and evaluate an environmental education preschool program for children ages 2-5 and their parents at Aldo Leopold Nature Center. This was the first preschool program of this design implemented at Aldo Leopold Nature Center, located in Monona, Wisconsin. The treatment was one year long, twice a month (two dates per week) during the regular school year and every week over the summer; there were 30 unique lessons taught a total of 47 times. The program was given the name Wonder Bugs Preschool Program before the implementation phase. The data were collected through three surveys. The first survey was a session survey that all parents were asked to complete after each of the Wonder Bugs sessions (47 total sessions). The second survey was a midway survey that was distributed to families that attended at least one Wonder Bugs session from March 2010 through August 2010 (spring and summer). The final survey was distributed to all participating families from March 2010- February 2011 (one-year). The results indicate that the session activities were appropriate, the session length was satisfactory, and the sessions overall were valuable and enjoyed. Furthermore, the objectives of the program were upheld with the majority of people choosing “experiencing nature” and “child's interest” as the top two choices for attending multiple Wonder Bugs sessions. “Teachers” was the most important program component followed by “hikes” and then “crafts”. Different time offerings may encourage people to attend more Wonder Bugs sessions, but 100% of the people surveyed for the final survey marked will “probably” attend or “definitely” will attend future programming at ALNC. The most important results for the study relate to the parents‟ perception of their children's sense of wonder. On the Midway survey 92.9% of people who responded perceived a positive change in their child's sense of wonder, and on the Final survey 22 out of 23 people (95.7%) who responded perceived a positive change in their child's sense of wonder. Wonder Bugs was a success and should be continued at the Aldo Leopold Nature Center. Wonder Bugs helps meet the needs of preschoolers, aged 2-5 years, and meets early childhood guidelines for North American Association for Environmental Education and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction's Model Early Learning Standards. The researcher recommends gathering more data on parents‟ perception of their children's sense of wonder by conducting a focus group. The researcher also recommends keeping class sizes to 10 children, dividing the ages to separate the 2-3 year olds during the school year, and offering more date options, including weekends.