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Horticulture and Natural Resources


Our research focus and efforts revolve around solving environmental problems and to understand the human dimensions of natural resource management.

  • How does interpretation influence the visitor/tourist experience?
  • How do we effectively evaluate the long-term outcomes of ecotourism?
  • How do we accommodate the increasing use of parks and protected areas world-wide while at the same time providing for a high quality visitor experience and the conservation of natural resources?
  • How do we gain greater public support for wildlife conservation at a global scale?
  • How do we develop effective techniques for managing outdoor recreation?
  • How can research integrate public perceptions, policy, and institutional constraints to inform the defensible management of natural resources?

Questions such as these that pertain to societal grand challenges surrounding natural resources are the primary focus of PMC researchers. Our program of research, education, and training is designed to provide graduate students a comprehensive toolbox to effectively address issues concerning parks and protected area management and increasing public understanding of the natural, cultural and recreational value of these resources world-wide.

The Park Management and Conservation Lab conducts a program of global research in national parks, forests, and wildlife refuges, state parks, zoos and aquariums.

Latest Publications

  • Skibins, J. C., Powell, R. B., & Hallo, J. C. (2013). Charisma and conservation: Charismatic megafauna’s influence on safari and zoo tourists’ pro-conservation behaviors. Biodiversity and Conservation, 22(4), 959 - 982.
  • Skibins, J. C., Powell, R. B., & Stern, M. J. (2012). Exploring empirical support for interpretation’s best practices. Journal of Interpretation Research 17(1), 25 - 44.
  • Lakes, R.M.* & Sharp, R.L. (2015).  Visitor perceptions of black bear management options in Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, U.S.A.  Human Dimensions of Wildlife, 20(2).
  • Sharp, R.L., Lemieux, C. J., Thompson, J.L. & Dawson, J. (2014).  Enhancing parks and protected area management in North America in an era of rapid climate change through integrated social science.  Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, 32(4), 1-18.
  • Cadden, L. and T. Cable. 2013. Traveling Through Illinois: Stories of Landmarks and Landscapes between St. Louis and Chicago. The History Press. 192p.
  • Beck, L. and T. Cable. 2011. Interpretive Perspectives. InterpPress. Ft. Collins, CO. 65p.

Check out the research focus of our faculty members listed to the right.

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Ted Cable
Natural resource management and interpretation

Ryan Sharp
Park Management & Conservation

Jeff Skibins
Park Management & Conservation