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Keywords:

  • conservation education;
  • evaluation;
  • Uganda

Abstract

Although the importance of evaluating the effectiveness of conservation education programs cannot be underestimated, few evaluations of these programs and their resulting impact on the environment have been conducted. A partnership between scientists, educators, and local administrators on an evaluation program has been developed to evaluate a model of education program evaluation that includes short- and long-term evaluation of (1) knowledge and attitude change, (2) behavior change, and (3) positive biological impact. Previous work has shown short-term knowledge retention from this education program. In the current study follow-up evaluations were collected from students at 14 schools outside the Kalinzu Forest Reserve, Uganda. By comparing performance 30 days, 1 year and 2 years after the initial program we demonstrate that knowledge gain from this program is not transient. However, although knowledge is a prerequisite for appropriate conservation actions it does not guarantee appropriate behaviors will be performed. Anecdotal evidence of behavior change and positive biological impact is discussed within the context of the challenges with changing behavior and evaluating the true biological impacts of those behaviors. Ultimately, conservation professionals will need to partner with educators and social scientists to effectively measure the impact of conservation education and human-based conservation programs on primate populations and their habitat. Am. J. Primatol. 72:407–413, 2010. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.