Spring 5-11-2016



Degree Name


Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Vivian Johnson

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Sheila Williams Ridge

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Sam DiVita


The purpose of this study was to capture the perspectives of five wilderness area staff as they reflect on the scarcity of visitors of color to their places of employment. Qualitative interviews were conducted to learn the viewpoints of the participants. Findings suggest that the racialized history of the United States and the framework of inequity in the formation of park systems encouraged the subsequent development of urban identities that have resulted in cultural traits separating many people of color from all peoples' roots in nature. In addition, contemporary barriers due to the opportunity gap for communities of color create a deeper divide between those who visit and those who do not visit natural areas. A suggestion for future research is to consider the ramifications of white privilege as a contributing factor to the underrepresentation of people of color visiting wilderness areas. Implications of this research include the possibility of creating awareness and designing strategies to engage communities of color with nature as a means to more equitable wilderness experiences, resulting in environmental justice, increased physical and mental public health, and a sustainable future for the natural environment.

Research Methodology

Interview, Narrative, Observation, Survey


Environmental Studies, Multicultural Education, Social Justice, Staff Development

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Education Commons