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Mar 05, 2014

Every month in The Resource, the Center's online news mailing, we share a difficult Leave No Trace ethical and skills based situation from a Leave No Trace Member for our team to respond to. Below is the February member's situation and our response.

The Situation: While biking on the Leigh Canal Towpath near Hellertown, I ran into a large group of people with coolers and beer cans lingering in the middle of the path. They were using a rope swing to dive into the river. They moved aside, but as I passed them I saw cups and beer cans strewn across the towpath. I kept biking, but should I have approached them despite the drunkenness of several of the people? - Sarah, PA

Here’s what our Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Teams said:

It's important to use good judgement and always consider your own safety. If a situation is unsafe or you feel uncomfortable approaching someone or a group, pass and/or notify the appropriate authority(s) if necessary. We always encourage people to create their own personal ethic and recognize their comfort zone when it comes to Leave No Trace. If the situation is safe and you feel comfortable (finding someone in the group who looks friendly and sober) here are 4 steps that we have found are most effective for having a positive interaction while educating and changing behavior:

1.    Make a connection to the shared experience                                                                                             (Hi there, it's a beautiful day to be enjoying the sunshine and cool water, where are you all from?)

2.    Give an objective statement of situation                                                                                                       (Thanks for making room for me. I see that there's beer cans all over the trail.)

3.    Explain impacts or implications of action(s)                                                                                                (I'm glad you all are enjoying the trail and the river, it's a beautiful place. It's easier for myself and others to enjoy the beauty of the trail when its clean and free of trash.)                 

4.    Provide an alternative action (include personal technique or experience.)                                                      (I always have everyone throw their empty cans back into the cooler, that way I don't have to worry about    cleaning up afterward.)

In general, engaging in friendly conversation, making connections, and giving alternatives leads to positive interactions and a more likely change in behavior.

Have a situation of your own you'd like the Leave No Trace Team to answer? Email

Mar 05, 2014

Researchers from the University of Idaho and the US Geologic Survey publish results from a new study of the Leave No Trace Master Educator Course

The results of the study were featured in the 2013 winter issue of the Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, and documented the first ever study of the Master Educator Course. The article, titled “Training to Teach Leave No Trace: Efficacy of Master Educator Courses,” details the study and offers robust discussion on the results, including how the findings can enhance overall Leave No Trace educational efforts. The research replicates and expands an efficacy study of the Leave No Trace Trainer Course (Daniel & Marion, 2005) applied to evaluate the “train-the-trainer” Master Educator Course. Course outcomes were evaluated through surveys that assessed changes in Leave No Trace knowledge, ethics, confidence, judgment, behavior and teaching.

The study was modeled after the 2005 Leave No Trace Trainer Course study because no empirical evaluation had been done on the efficacy of Master Educator Courses, and the two courses share a similar curriculum. The Master Educator Course involves more hands-on learning than the two-day Trainer Course and has the primary objective of developing effective educators. The study sought to assess the impact that Master Educator Courses have on participants, which also explores how effectively Leave No Trace ethics and techniques are for minimizing impact on public lands. The researchers had two primary questions:

  1. Is the Master Educator Course effective in developing Leave No Trace knowledge, ethics, and practices in its participants?
  2. Do participants in Master Educator Courses subsequently apply and share their Leave No Trace knowledge?

The research design involved the use of a series of three self-administered questionnaires, which were delivered to course participants over an eight-month period. The longitudinal design used a pre-, post- and follow-up course survey with predominately matching formats and identical questions. Pre and post surveys were paper surveys and the follow-up was internet-based.

A few notable points from the research findings:

  • Knowledge scores increased significantly between pre- and post-tests, an indication that participants were learning new Leave No Trace content on the course.
  • Knowledge scores also increased significantly between the pre-course and follow-up surveys, indicating long-term retention of knowledge gained during the course, with only a minimal decline in knowledge between post- and follow-up surveys.
  • High ethics scores on all three surveys suggest the participants in the Master Educator Course already had a fairly strong outdoor ethic.
  • The study provides evidence that the Leave No Trace Master Educator Course is an effective educational tool. Participants demonstrated improved knowledge, understanding, and adoption of Leave No Trace ethics and practices. Even three months after the course, participants showed an improvement in Leave No Trace knowledge, ethics, confidence and judgment.
  • Thus, longitudinal results of the study suggest the efficacy of the Master Educator Course is lasting. Even more important, given the course’s “train-the-trainer” objective, was the substantial amount of outreach that participants reported.
  • This study demonstrated that the Master Educator Course is producing active Leave No Trace instructors.

Visit here to obtain a copy of the study.

For more information on this study, please contact:

Jeff Marion, Ph.D.                   
USDI, U.S. Geological Survey                
Virginia Tech
Field Stn. Leader/Adj. Professor    
Patuxent Wildlife Research Center    


Mar 05, 2014

1. Best part of being a partner?
Knowing that there is a whole team behind the ethics of Leave No Trace there to help you!

2. Describe in 10 words your community without Leave No Trace.
No standard of excellence to follow. And a lot more trash.

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3. Who your organization serves and where.
Southwest corner of Colorado on the San Juan National Forest, Tres Rios BLM and Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, adults, students and children wanting to connect with the land.

4. Why do you work where you work?
I love my job. It is very fulfilling to connect people with the land and give them an opportunity to learn and grow in our natural world.

5. Describe a perfect day outside.
My perfect day is enjoying the public lands that surround my community.

6. Can’t go outside without my…
… positive attitude

7. Favorite outdoor place?
Deep in Wilderness with my horse

8. Top accomplishment of your organization?
Providing thousands of volunteer hours, on public land, every year for the last 25 years.

9. Most forgotten Leave No Trace principle?
Be considerate of others. If you do this the other principles just fall into place.

10.  How does practicing Leave No Trace add to your well-being?
It gives me a sense of accomplishment and allows me to make a difference in the world.


For more information on the San Juan Mountains Association, visit:

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Mar 05, 2014

Need some help on keeping kids engaged while teaching them about the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace? The Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers share their top tips on how to keep kids engaged and interactive while learning!

"When working with kids make sure that you are having fun and that you are being yourself, honest, and sincere." - TJ

"In order to keep the kids' attention and to quiet them down after fun activities, designate a saying to bring their attention back to you. "When I say Leave No, you say Trace!" Repeat this until they quiet down and listen to the next step in the lesson." - Pat

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"Incorporate ways to quiet and re-focus a group. Young ones: Have everyone fill their mouths with bubbles. Elementary: If you can hear me touch your ears, nose, etc. until they’re quiet and focused. All ages: Call and repeat - When I say Leave No, you say Trace. Hip-Hip Hooray, etc." - Dani

"Instead of supplying them with “new” knowledge, tap into what they already know. Do this by asking questions and having them give you the answers. Why is it important to pack out our trash instead of just leaving it there? Why do we never carve on trees?" -Roland

"Speak clearly and concisely to ensure your students fully understand one concept before you move onto the next idea. Let your passion and enthusiasm for Leave No Trace shine through!" - Kate

"When teaching Leave No Trace to kids, repetition is key.  Introduce the principles, play an activity to reinforce one or more concepts, then summarize and review the information that was taught.  Increased repetition equals increased retention." -Tracy

Have a Tech Tip of your own you'd like to share with the Leave No Trace community? Send it to!