News & Updates

Research Reveals 30 Minutes of Leave No Trace Training Increases Kids Connection to Nature

Susy Alkaitis - March 13, 2018

If just 30 minutes of education is all it takes for kids attitudes to nature to shift, what could be done with even more?

A new study conducted by Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics has shown that just a 30-minute lesson on how to be responsible outdoors, in line with Leave No Trace ethics, helped change kids’ sense of connection to nature and likelihood to leave behind objects they found while outside.

In the study, two groups (N=144, control; N=188, treatment) of kids took part in an educational activity at an outdoor school where they had the opportunity to come across “precious” objects such as arrowheads, fossils and pieces of pyrite (fool’s gold). However, only one of the groups had participated in a quick 30-minute lesson on one of the Leave No Trace Seven Principles: “Leave What You Find” prior to the activity. The lesson was delivered by outdoor school staff who received less than two hours of training on how to conduct the lesson. The findings were significant. Kids who had learnt why it was important to Leave What You Find were 11% less likely to take these found objects. Furthermore, the study revealed that the kids who had the Leave No Trace lesson reported attitudes more aligned with the Leave What You Find Principle than kids in the control group. From a practical standpoint, these findings are substantial given that an estimated 14 million youth participate in similar outdoor programs annually.

Even more importantly, the kids who received the 30-minute-long Leave No Trace education were less likely to agree that taking home these natural objects would make them feel more connected to nature. By taking part in just 30 minutes of learning about their outdoor surrounding – about why it’s important to leave these objects and preserve the past for other people – these children’s perspective changed. They don’t need an arrowhead to connect them to nature because they already feel more connected because of a Leave No Trace activity.

If all this can begin to shift in less time than it takes to watch an episode of Stranger Things – the beginnings of an outdoor ethic, a connection to nature, and a curiosity in fairness towards others and the outdoors – Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics is optimistic about what can be achieved in a longer and more intensive curriculum.

To learn more about Leave No Trace’s youth programs click here:





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