Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Health and Consumer Sciences

First Advisor

Hungling (Stella) Liu


benefits, outdoor recreation, parental influence, parks, promotion, youth


A family’s participation in outdoor recreation activities can provide numerous benefits to each individual. Children’s participation is influenced from various factors, but parents have one of the greatest influences on their child’s outdoor recreation behavior. The purpose of this study is to assess the outcomes of a statewide outdoor recreation program in relation to using state parks as outdoor wellness centers, as well as investigate the relationship between parents’ outdoor recreation participation and perception and their children’s outdoor recreation involvement. A total of 104 parents or guardians recalled their family’s participation in the Go Forth program. Those responses were analyzed and used for this study. The survey was split into five sections (program participation, state park use and outdoor recreation, physical activity, outdoor activity and benefits, and demographics) to better understand the outdoor recreation participation of families. Descriptive analysis showed participants were already frequent state park users and preferred non-consumptive outdoor recreation activities. Popular activities included hiking, picnicking/outdoor cooking, and swimming. Chi-square analysis results showed parents who prefer consumptive outdoor recreation activities place a higher importance for their children to participate in shooting sports, fishing, and hunting. Pearson correlation indicated a substantial positive relationship between parents’ physical activity level with their children’s physical activity level (r = .60). Although parents, in general, reported a high support of their children observing various benefits by using state parks, the results of paired t-tests showed parents had a significantly higher expectation in quality service of state parks provided than they perceived. Due to most of the participants already being frequent outdoor recreation users, providers should find increasingly engaging ways to reach non-frequent users. Importance of educational programs such as, visiting nature centers, was revealed and suggests the possibility of increased programming in this area as well as the potential for collaboration and partnerships with other agencies like schools or libraries.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Outdoor recreation for children.
Family recreation.
Parks -- South Dakota.

Number of Pages



South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright