Parks, rhetoric and environmental education: challenges and opportunities for enhancing ecoliteracy

  • Rebecca A. JohnsEmail author
  • Rachelle Pontes
Original paper


Adult environment literacy in the USA remains disturbingly low, despite the urgency of environmental problems. In the face of federal attack on many of the gains made in the last half a century to protect and sustain natural resources and human health, increasing understanding of complex ecological processes and the human role in environmental change is crucial. Non-formal environmental education in the USA for adults is less regulated and less studied that environmental education for children. Preserves are the most common place in which adults encounter nature and may be exposed to new ideas about the environment. This study conducts a rhetorical analysis of education programs at local preserves in southwest Florida to determine approaches utilized in promoting environmental literacy. Using rhetorical criticism, we identify the dominant levels of environmental literacy targeted by the sample parks through an analysis of audiences and messages. We also identify opportunities and barriers to an increased role for preserves in providing education to the public that advances environmental literacy.


Environmental education Florida Environmental literacy Nature preserves Rhetorical analysis 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors state that there are no conflicts of interest related to this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Outdoor Education Australia 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of South Florida St. PetersburgSt. PetersburgUSA

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