Ecosystem Knowledge and Stewardship among Adult Conservation Volunteers with Varied Outdoor Recreation Backgrounds

Darren Sacks
Michigan State University
Darren Sacks is a well-rounded, self-driven, friendly individual who does his best in all aspects of his school and professional work. He is an Environmental Studies and Sustainability student that attends Michigan State University. Darren has been involved in projects with the Sierra Club including the “Beyond Coal Campaign” which focuses to shut down coal powered plants. He has worked with Clean Water Action which is a national, non-profit organization which works on protecting safe, clean, and affordable water. Currently, Darren works at Michigan State’s Recycling Center and Surplus store which addresses material sustainability. Darren’s career focus is water ecology and watershed management. Through his studies, he has worked with watershed organizations including Friends of the Maple River in Clinton County, MI. In this watershed, he has been concentrating on motivating citizens of the Maple River Watershed to get more involved in environmental stewardship.
Other presenters/researchers: 
Shari Dann, MSU Associate Professor and MSU Extension Specialist; Bindu Bhakta, MSU Extension Specialist

MSU Extension’s Natural Resources Work Group aims for greater stewardship engagement through citizen science programs to advance conservation. In past decades, this work has been done by “traditional” outdoor groups composed of hunters and anglers. Yet, there have emerged new, enthusiastic ecosystem-minded volunteers to contribute toward this necessary and vital aspect of ecological restoration. Volunteers taking part in the Michigan Conservation Stewards Program (CSP) come to the program with varied backgrounds in outdoor recreation. Many of the adult learners who attend this program want to get more involved in ecosystem restoration, but how do their learning outcomes vary by their previous outdoor background? Pre- and post-program, online surveys of participants provide data regarding stewardship changes as a result of the CSP. This analysis specifically investigates whether water-based outdoor recreation participation prior to the course affects participants’ learning about aquatic ecosystem and stewardship.

Poster Division: