Environmental Stewardship Outcomes from Year-Long Invasive Species Restoration Projects in Middle School

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Abstract

To investigate the impacts of long-term targeted invasive plant stewardship projects on students’ subsequent stewardship attitudes, an experiment using pre and post-tests to understand program effects and using post-test only comparisons to understand school effects was conducted. The resulting scores from two science classes that participated in year-long invasive plant and restoration activities were compared with those from three comparable classes at a linked school that did not participate in any of these activities. Students in the experimental classes showed overall significantly higher scores compared with the control classes. These attitude scores were then divided into two indexes: sense of personal effectiveness and attitudes of caring for particular places. Students in the experimental group showed increases in both, as compared with the controls. Parent and student focus groups were conducted at the end of the academic year. The resulting comments provide evidence for actual behavior change outside of the school environment. Analysis showed that any student, especially those in the control classes in the traditional middle school, indicating they had prior exposure to nature stewardship projects showed significantly higher scores than students who did not. The results underscore the value of having students involved in real-world stewardship projects, especially those of a long-term nature.

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