Date of Award

Fall 12-2017

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis


Geography and Geology

First Advisor

Mark Miller

Advisor Department

Geography and Geology


This thesis examines young people’s perceptions of nature and the outdoors, in order to better understand their interactions and experiences with national parks. Younger generations currently are not engaging with the national parks as much as older generations. This study seeks to understand the reasons behind this change and explore potential solutions to this challenge, as younger generations will be responsible for the conservation and preservation of national parks in the near future. This research was modeled on a previous study based on students at the University of Northern Colorado. Research methodologies included both a survey and focus groups to explore this topic fully. The results indicate that young people desire to spend more time outdoors and visiting National Parks, but cite time, money, transportation, and technology as constraints that prevent them from interacting with nature. Time stands out as the biggest constraint. The focus groups revealed that young people who have a passion will find a way to make time for nature in their busy schedules, as this is a priority for them. As such, encouraging a passion for nature within younger people may help increase their presence in national parks through repeated exposure and positive experiences with the outdoors from a young age.