Undergraduate Honors Thesis Projects

Date of Award

Spring 4-24-2020

Document Type

Honors Paper

Degree Name

Zoo and Conservation Science-BS


Biology & Earth Science


Dr. Anna Young

First Committee Member

Dr. Michele Acker

Second Committee Member

Dr. Deborah Solomon


Animal Programming, Conservation Psychology, Program Assessment, Environmental Education, Native Wildlife, Childhood Experiences in Nature

Subject Categories

Animal Studies | Biology | Other Psychology | Psychology | Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration | Zoology


Attitudes towards wildlife can have direct implications on peoples’ interest in conserving local habitats and their overall ecological choices. Attitudes are formed by multiple components of an individual’s life history. However, through interactive, educational experiences, there is a potential to change current attitudes. Animal programs are an example of interactive, educational experiences that provide individuals the opportunity to get up-close to animal ambassadors and participate in engaging conversations about them. An animal program assessment was conducted with the 2019 summer camps at the Ohio Wildlife Center to quantify the changes in peoples’ affiliation for local wildlife and their willingness to live near local wildlife. Of the 244 campers present, 144 campers, aged six to fifteen, took a survey before witnessing the animal programs and then again following their participation in the animal programs. Matched paired t-tests showed an overall increase of affiliation scores from “pre” to “post,” although with small effect size (mean pre = 4.18, mean post = 4.34, d=.154). There was a significant increase from the “pre” to “post” affiliation scores for six of the ten ambassador animals. Overall mean willingness scores were not as high as affiliation scores, and a larger increase occurred in the post survey, although the effect size was still small (mean pre = 3.56, mean post = 3.85, d= .243). A strong correlation was found between affiliation and willingness scores, meaning the higher the score of affiliation for an animal, the more willing an individual is to live near the animal (pre: r(1)= 0.89, p = 0.0006; post: r(1)=0.97, p < 0.0001). Overall, the study found that these animal programs positively influenced their audiences’ attitudes towards local wildlife, although with a small effect size.


An assessment of the impact of animal programs on children's attitudes of local wildlife.