Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Agricultural Extension

Major Professor

C. E. Carter

Committee Members

James Byford, Lewis Dickson, R. S. Dotson


As populations expand and metropolitan areas creep out onto rural lands and wildlife habitat, the threat to nature's balance increases. Conservation of our natural resources and protection of the environment are of national concern, and educating the public is an important step toward this end. Our young people, in particular, must develop an understanding of the conservation process. They are tomorrow's environmental managers. If young people develop re-sponsibility for the environment early in life, their adult habits and concerns will be supportive in the conservation of natural resources. With this in mind, the purpose of this study was to evaluate the Tennessee 4-H Wildlife Conference, a major teaching method for environmental education of young people in Tennessee, and the resulting wildlife knowledge and attitudes held by these Conference alumni. This was done by: (1) characterizing the Tennessee 4-H Wildlife Conference alumni; (2) measuring the wildlife knowledge of the alumni on selected questions from 1973 to 1981 Tennessee 4-H Wildlife Con-ference exams; and (3) determining the relationships between 4-H alumni wildlife knowledge scores and their personal characteristics and attitudes toward wildlife. The population of the study included alumni of the Tennessee 4-H Wildlife Conference who had attended as delegates between 1973 and 1981. Five hundred seventy-one alumni were randomly selected from 76 counties to participate in a mail survey. Thirty-nine percent of those selected to receive a questionnaire completed and returned it (226 of 571). The data were coded and computations were made by The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Computer Center. The one-way analysis of variance (F-test) was used to determine the strength of relationships between variables. The .05 probability level was selected for determining significance of observed relationships. Findings from this study indicated that the average 4-H alumnus responding was 16 to 21 years old and had completed high school or some level of higher education. The alumni had attended one Tennessee 4-H Wildlife Conference from 4 to 6 years prior to the survey and lived on a farm at that time. Findings also showed that the average alumnus was no longer a member of the 4-H wildlife project and was not serving as teen or adult leader for the 4-H wildlife project. The alumnus had been enrolled in the 4-H wildlife project 3 to 5 years, the general 4-H program 4 to 6 years and had achieved recognition at the county level. Upon computing a wildlife knowledge score, it was found that the 4-H alumni remembered the sponsoring agency, were knowledgeable of game management practices, ecological interactions, reptiles and amphibians, and the role of predators, but did not have a clear understanding of fish and pond management practices. The average alumni scored 70 percent correct on the wildlife knowledge quiz and retained the knowledge gained at the Conference regardless of the number of years since they attended. Data analysis showed the wildlife knowledge scores were higher for the alumni who had attended more than one conference, were currently members, teen leaders or adult leaders, or had received higher level awards. Wildlife scores increased as the number of years of enrollment in the 4-H program or the 4-H wildlife project increased and as the level of education increased. The data revealed that the majority of the alumni held natural-istic, humanistic, moral-ethical attitudes and to a lesser extent, were interested in the ecological and scientistic aspects of animals. The average alumni did not indicate a dominionistic or utilitarian attitude toward wildlife and the environment. Implications and recommendations for further study were also included.

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