Abstract

To address some of the threats facing sea turtles in St. Kitts, the St. Kitts Sea Turtle Monitoring Network (SKSTMN) has implemented a number of conservation education programs. The primary conservation education program has been an annual Sea Turtle Camp Program that was developed and initiated in 2007 with the goal of engaging and educating youth in the conservation of sea turtle species. In 2015 and 2016, the SKSTMN performed an assessment of this education program. The outcome assessment included 1) evaluation of pre- and postparticipation tests for the 2015 and 2016 participants, 2) comparison with a control group of nonparticipants who took the posttest, and 3) a survey of former participants and their parents or guardians. The pre/post exercise was performed to determine if students were gaining and retaining information during the Sea Turtle Camp Program and if participants had a stronger knowledge base than nonparticipants. The survey of former participants was performed to determine if this program had positively affected participants and their perceptions regarding sea turtles, the marine environment, and conservation; to ascertain strengths and weaknesses of the Sea Turtle Camp Program; and to identify conservation education areas that could be further developed. The results obtained for participants in the Sea Turtle Camp Program between the pre- and posttests indicated that the educational modalities used are successfully relaying the desired information and that the majority of the participants are retaining this information throughout the Sea Turtle Camp Program. Additionally, the results on the pre- and posttests for the Sea Turtle Camp Program participant group vs. the control group of nonparticipants indicate that the Program had a significant impact on participants' knowledge regarding sea turtle natural history, biology, and St. Kitts–specific sea turtle issues. Findings indicated that there were positive changes in behavior toward the marine environment and sea turtles in Sea Turtle Camp participants following participation and that there was a need for additional curriculum to be developed to accommodate former participants who were interested in continuing their participation in the program.

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