Factors that contribute to community members’ support of local nature centers

Matthew H.E.M. Browning, Marc J. Stern, Nicole M. Ardoin, Joe E. Heimlich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nature centers can serve as valuable community institutions if they are seen as providing important services to the community. Through survey research in communities surrounding 16 nature centers in the United States, we examine the attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs that drive hypothetical support for nature centers from local residents. Respondents who recognized centers as institutions that provide opportunities for leisure and connection with nature; contribute to civic engagement; and bolster local economies, community pride, and aesthetics reported the greatest likelihood of donating, volunteering, or responding to threats at local centers. Additional predictors of support included positive evaluations of staff members, perceptions of positive attitudes toward the center held by other community members, familiarity with center activities, pro-environmental attitudes, and past donation or volunteering. The findings highlight the potential returns for centers that expand their activities and operations beyond more traditional roles of providing nature-based outdoor recreation and environmental education experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)326-342
Number of pages17
JournalEnvironmental Education Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 4 2018


  • Nature centers
  • community support
  • organizational threats
  • philanthropy
  • volunteering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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