Development of a survey to measure effects of informal wildlife education programs on visitor attitudes and behaviors concerning snakes and citizen science
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Though snakes are the most highly reported fear among adults in the US and are often subjects of persecution, nature centers attempt to promote positive attitudes and behaviors concerning snakes through educational programs. Two wildlife education programs were examined to understand how effective current methods are toward influencing attitudes and behaviors regarding snakes. A nature center's ‘Snake Day’ provided the full interpretive treatment: information, exposure, direct contact, and modeling. The nature center's permanent exhibit of snakes provided only information and exposure. A survey was developed to measure visitors’ attitudes and behaviors toward snakes. Data from post-test intercept surveys revealed six snake attitude and behavior dimensions through an exploratory factor analysis. A pre and post-test survey analysis revealed no significant differences between those entering and leaving Snake Day, but the exhibit produced a significant increase in four attitude components. Results indicated the exhibit had a greater capacity to change attitudes during a visit and the major difference between the events outcomes were with the Moralistic-Ecologistic dimension.