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  • Thumbnail for COMMUNITY-ENGAGED ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION: SUGGESTIONS FOR INCLUSION FROM PARTICIPANT-REPORTED EXPERIENCES IN “LATINO FAMILY CAMPS”
    COMMUNITY-ENGAGED ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION: SUGGESTIONS FOR INCLUSION FROM PARTICIPANT-REPORTED EXPERIENCES IN “LATINO FAMILY CAMPS” by Atcheson, Koki

    This study provides preliminary qualitative groundwork for a five-year program evaluation by documenting participant-reported experiences in “Latino Family Camps/Campamentos Familiares.” Interviews with 12 members of five families who were camp participants were conducted in focus groups or individually, and coded for major themes using NVivo. Three major themes, or hypotheses, emerged from interview data. First, interviewees viewed nature as a medium for human connection. Second, interviewees reported that environmental appreciation and human-nature connection have diverse sources, including through family traditions in nature. Third, interviewees reported diverse barriers to nature that can be overcome through the Latino Family Camp program. Other notable findings were not major themes, but deserve mention: interviewees did not associate barriers to nature engagement with their ethnic identities, and no participants specifically identified practices of the camp as “inclusive” or “designed specifically for Latino communities.” Additionally, all participants reported that they enjoyed the camps and wanted to return. Positive participant responses suggest that the Latino Family Camps succeed in their goal to empower families to experience nature. However, families’ continued participation in multiple-family camps urges study of the specific benefits of community nature engagement. Program facilitators may also consider their reasoning for explicating inclusive practices for certain audiences and may include an explicit conversation with participants about historical exclusion from green spaces, diverse connections to nature, and the familial and community benefits of nature experiences.