Sense of conservation: When is a black rat snake (elaphe obsolete) really just a snake?

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Preparing Informal Science Educators: Perspectives from Science Communication and Education

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Glean, Hunt, Turkey


© Springer International Publishing AG 2017. This chapter focuses on taking into consideration the knowledge of the audience when developing a program. I describe a research project in which middle level students (ages 11-14) knowledge of local plants and animals was assessed. The findings indicated that students were aware of local flora and fauna, but used common names. For example, when asked to identify a black rat snake students identified the organism as black snake or snake. In the discussion, I argue that this is the starting point at which conservation educators must start in their program design. Educators must take into account the conservation related knowledge of the community in which they work. People form emotional bonds and are familiar with local places. Those local places include the ecosystems and organisms of the area. The bonds and familiarity that form between people and their local environments do not form because people know the scientific name of an organism. The bonds form with the local natural community because people have a sense of where they live. From this basic idea, I describe the characteristics of Sense of Conservation and correlate them with the notion that people have emotional bonds and strongly felt beliefs about local nature that influence the value they place on conservation.

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