Perceptions of sustainability and natural resources of cross-cultural youth attending a biodiversity focused event at a US National Park
This research will examine the perceptions of minority youth between the age of 18- 25 on biodiversity, sustainability and nature during a BioBlitz. A BioBlitz is a public and science event combining citizen participation with scientific taxonomy to collect and catalogue species diversity of plants and animals in a particular place such as a park or preserve over a 24-hour period. BioBlitzes are popular and often attract thousands of participants many with no prior scientific knowledge or with any previous knowledge about the park or preserve that the BioBlitz takes place in. Do such biodiversity focused events attract difference audiences to become engaged in parks and if so, why? We posit that citizen science activities attract new audiences to science and specifically minorities and underrepresented groups present at BioBlitzes may offer a unique perspective on the mechanisms to broaden participation in national parks and protected areas. To investigate the added value of BioBlitzes, semi-structured interview questions are used to measure environmental attitudes, values and motivations specifically from youth from different cultural and ethic groups who are participating in the BioBlitz. In addition, surveys conducted in collaboration with the National Park Service will provide additional information about the value of the Hawaiian BioBlitz on the environmental perspectives of youth. A pilot semi-structured interview study was performed among 30 undergraduates from different ethnic backgrounds to look for common themes or similarities of environmental perspectives and to refine survey techniques to address multicultural audiences.
The pilot study revealed some distinctions between ethnicity groups. Answers about the concept of sustainability are similar across ethnicity groups. The concept of environmental stewardship is difficult to describe although themes and key words as engagement and recycling have been addressed multiple times. Personal experiences about environmental problems are more common among minority youth. Based on the pilot study, the focus population of the BioBlitz might reveal strong connections or are enhanced with concepts to biodiversity and sustainability. The interview answers will reveal broad themes how youth is connected to biodiversity and sustainability and how attending to a BioBlitz might influence their perceptions. The observation data shows the ethnic variation of participations and can be compared with the US Census data. The conclusions might indicate overlap in themes about sustainability and natural resources so further research would require an attending population of minority youth at a BioBlitz and a non-attending population to distinguish different perceptions.