Citizen science programs provide a means for outdoor enthusiasts to combine their recreational pursuits with engagement in science. This research evaluated the role of citizen science in peoples’ perceptions of science, meaningfulness of their outdoor experiences, and environmental attitudes, identity, and connection. The Living Snow Project (LSP), a community-enabled (citizen science) program, engages the outdoor recreation community in research characterizing alpine snow microbiomes through volunteer sample collections in alpine environments. Citizen scientists (N=41) volunteering with LSP participated in this study at two time points before and after the 2019 snow sampling season. At both time points, participants completed five well-established measures to assess environmental attitudes, values, identity, and connection to nature. In addition, we collected demographic and LSP participation information (Time 1), as well as their citizen science experience and perceptions of science (Time 2). The results indicated that citizen scientists (1) reported their recreational experiences were more meaningful as a result of their engagement in citizen science; (2) had more positive perceptions of science and interest in participating in science; and (3) displayed high levels of environmental concern, connectedness to nature, and pro-environmental values and identity as evidenced by near ceiling levels across the five measures.
Citizen Science, outdoor recreation, science perceptions, environmental attitudes, pro-environmental behaviors
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Severson, Rachel L.; Bean, Phoebe S.; Caughie, Cali; and Kodner, Robin, "The role of citizen science in science perception, meaning, and environmental values: An evaluation of the Living Snow Project" (2020). Psychology Faculty Publications. 17.