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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Thomas Nelson

First Committee Member

Harriett Arnold

Second Committee Member

Carol Ann Brodie

Third Committee Member

Alan Jones


The purpose of this study is to better understand how the natural environment influences who we have become as adults. Recognizing the importance of childhood experiences, with and within nature, the intent of this study is to interpret the essential meanings associated with these experiences and how these, in turn, are situated in our beliefs and relationship with nature. The targeted respondents for the study were all K-12 educators teaching in schools in Central California. The driving research question is stated as In what ways do childhood experiences with and within the natural environment impact who we are as adults? Three sub-questions were also explored: What personal meanings are associated with childhood memories and experiences of being with and within the natural environment? In what ways do individuals assimilate childhood experiences of the natural environment into their adult beliefs about their relationship with nature? In what ways does the exploration of early childhood nature experiences affect the decision to become environmental advocates? Moustakas' (1990) six-stage heuristic inquiry process was adhered to. The initial data collection began within myself, the researcher. Aspects of the experience, which became the collected data by means of conversations with co-researchers, journal writing, and other personal documents, were filtered by way of my own self-inquiry, sense of eco-literacy and experience with my childhood experiences with and within the natural environment. From the organization and analysis I have derived the essential elements of the experience. Nature as the common denominator, Nature awakens inner passions, Nature as lived through a relational awareness, Nature experiences support and guide our every day lives, and Nature stimulates a child's potential were the key thematic elements that embraced my own experience and that of my co-researchers.





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