This ethnographic account examines the perceptions of a group of outdoor educators or naturalists in a mid-western state park in regards to memory construction and how early memories impact their practice of interpretation. Findings show that early personal memories are not only fundamental to their eventual life as a naturalist but further; these memories motivate their work within the park. Of primary focus is highlighting the intersubjective continuity between the memories of naturalists and what they hope for others and the eventual goal of meaning making by way of affective memories. By describing and interpreting their perceptions of experience and memory we can examine how these processes are invested with significance and what role this plays in their subsequent practice. Since there is little ethnographic research concerning naturalists, this form of cultural analysis provides an important lens that permits an intimate account of naturalists’ own awareness as a way to understand their unique contributions as educators.


Memory, Experience, Meaning Making, Intersubjectivity, Naturalists, Ethnography

Author Bio(s)

Joshua Hunter is an assistant professor at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. He earned his doctorate from Indiana University in International Comparative Education. Beyond academia he has worked in multiple settings in environmental, outdoor, and adventure education programs for state parks, camps, and schools. He sits on the board of directors for Ground Up Adventures, a local non-profit that offers opportunities for adventure education and experiences. He is presently researching early childhood outdoor learning environments in a pre-K setting. Concurrently, he is beginning ethnographic work on wilderness education programs and sense of place while traversing wilderness landscapes. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: Joshua Hunter at, joshua.hunter@und.edu.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
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