Investigating the sets of values that community members hold toward local nature centers

Matthew H.E.M. Browning, Marc J. Stern, Nicole M. Ardoin, Joe E. Heimlich, Robert Petty, Cheryl Charles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While nature center’s missions often point to connecting people to nature in various ways, their potential to provide a broader array of services to their communities remains largely unexplored. To better understand the values local community members hold for nature centers, we conducted survey research around 16 centers in the United States. Exploratory factor analysis identified four underlying values: environmental connection, leisure provision, community resilience, and civic engagement. Our limited sample of community respondents felt these values to be important and well-provided by local centers, suggesting centers may play broader roles in communities than inferred from their mission statements. The identification of these distinct value sets provides centers with food for thought regarding not only the services they provide, but also how they might communicate their roles to various constituencies in their communities. The values also provide clear conceptual categories for future research on the values of diverse community institutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1291-1306
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironmental Education Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Oct 21 2017


  • Nature centers
  • administration
  • community
  • museums
  • values

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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