Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Resource Conservation

Department or School/College

College of Forestry and Conservation

Committee Chair

James Burchfield

Commitee Members

Fletcher Brown, Laurie Yung


adolescent, environmental education, girls, junior high, leisure, middle school, nature, outdoor activities, outdoor education, recreation, stewardship, students, teaching, youth


University of Montana


In order to increase adolescent girls’ participation in and enjoyment of outdoor activities (OAs), with the ultimate goal of increasing the number of future advocates and stewards of our natural environment, outdoor activity practitioners and other interested parties must gain an understanding of adolescent girls and their perceptions of the outdoors and outdoor activities. Every girl has unique insight and perceptions related to their own as well as other girls’ participation in outdoor activities. In order to best serve adolescent girls through outdoor activity, research must seek answers to how families, schools, mentors, and outdoor activity practitioners can best encourage and facilitate outdoor activities for this population. Seeing the research gaps surrounding girls’ experiences and perceptions of outdoor activities (OAs), studies search for answers at the level of the adolescent girls themselves. Through 24 in-depth, semi-structured interviews, respondents reported or conveyed their perceptions of the following over-arching incentives to their own as well as their peers participation in OAs: 1) desires to appreciate nature’s aesthetics and outdoor learning opportunities; 2) participation in OAs with friends and peers as well as positive peer influences to participate in OAs; 3) physical health benefits; 4) mental health benefits along with desires for freedom, openness, or escape from societal constraints; and 5) unique experiences in the outdoors. On the other hand, respondents stated or expressed their perceptions related to the following over-arching disincentives to participate in OAs: 1) Physical discomfort or discomfort on the account of fear; 2) societal constraints or social influences such as lack of peer participation; and 3) time constraints or the strong desire for comfort and relaxation due to the influence of numerous responsibilities. Ultimately, this study finds that OA practitioners, educators, parents, and mentors need to listen to the unique voices of adolescent girls in order to implement effective OA programs positively influence adolescent girls’ perceptions of and participation in outdoor activities.



© Copyright 2011 Sarah Anne Megyesi