Substantial time and effort is spent to develop and offer nature education programs for youth. Those who attend are often extremely satisfied. However, decisions about whether a child's time is spent in nature activities are actually made by adults, not children. Thus, adults form a critical component-the social and institutional factors that lead to successful nature and environmental educational programs.
San Diego Audubon Society's after-school programs were studied to understand which of these factors were linked to successful outcomes from these programs. Staff and administrators for after-school programs were interviewed in person and by telephone, after being selected from the contacts developed in the community asset inventory of the organized youth program providers in San Diego County. Results contribute to the USDA Forest Service's Kids in the Woods programs and, more broadly, a better understanding of the institutional factors that affect successful nature programs in youth non-school settings.
Results suggest that the social milieu of programs can be improved by:
- Better coordination within agencies and between partners with different goals and structures.
- Building consensus on need for after school nature programs
- Better elucidation of benefits and outcomes across settings.