Silva dos Santos, M., Kelsey, K. D., Fuhrman, N. E., & Irwin, K. (2020). Animals in environmental education: Assessing individuals' emotional reactions to interactions with wildlife. Journal of Agricultural Education, 61(4), 61-77.

Environmental education (EE) programs, when combined with human-wildlife interactions (HWI), can
trigger emotions, an essential part of attitudes that influence pro-environmental behaviors (PEB). We
used participant observation and a post-event evaluation survey to investigate emotional response to
HWI among participants from marine educational programs at the University of Georgia Marine
Education Center and Aquarium, Savannah, GA. We found that during HWI participants demonstrated
positive (e.g., empathy) and negative emotions (e.g., frustration) with animals, including
misconceptions and negative perceptions toward snakes and horseshoe crabs. In addition, outdoor
exploration, contact with wildlife (direct or indirect), biofacts exhibitions and live animal presentations
were the practices that most engaged participants in the programs, indicating that animals (e.g., turtles
and crabs) can increase participants’ interest in educational activities. By incorporating wildlife in EE
practices, educators can engage individuals in activities and stimulate their emotional attachment to
animals, which can encourage changes in perceptions, leading to PEBs necessary for environmental

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