Community Wildlife Care Education by Wildlife Carers

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Heck, Deborah

Brown, Ray

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Jones, Darryl

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It has been suggested that the most important role of volunteer wildlife carers in not the rehabilitation and release of native animals, but the incidental public education they provide. The problem for me, a wildlife carer and educator, was the lack of any information about the public or community education role of wildlife carers. The aim of this thesis, therefore, is to describe the community education role of wildlife carers. At a later time, the ultimate goal is to provide adequate carer training in this area. In order to examine community education by wildlife carers I asked carers what they do that they believe to be environmental community education. Using interpretive inquiry as my guiding methodology, and interview and questionnaire as data collection tools, I invited wildlife carers to share with me their stories of community or environmental education. Twenty-two wildlife carers from across Queensland, Australia told me about their experiences educating the general public about wildlife. The resulting research narrative was cumulative, with various versions of the emerging narrative being offered back to participants and the wider wildlife caring community to ensure I was telling their story truthfully. I used the stories from my wildlife carer participants and related literature to describe a new construct: community wildlife care education. The emergence of this new construct provides the basis for the distinctive contribution that this thesis makes to community, wildlife and care education. Community wildlife care education has social, temporal and spatial dimensions but it is the social dimension that is dominant. Informal learning encounters between wildlife carers and members of the public are social. Our first experiences of care as humans are social. Care is expanded through the temporal and spatial dimensions, including the development of care for wildlife.

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Thesis (PhD Doctorate)

Degree Program

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Education and Professional Studies

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The author owns the copyright in this thesis, unless stated otherwise.

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Wildlife carers

Volunteer wildlife carers

Community education

Environmental education

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