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Projects with Promise

Vol. 25 No. 2

Testing Impacts of Goal-Oriented Outreach With the Girl Scouts: Can a Single Activity Change Attitudes Toward Insects?

December 7, 2019


Most people meet insects with fear and disgust, even though few insects pose health risks; in fact, many are beneficial and their absence would adversely affect human life. Such misunderstandings lead to insect conservation being important but unpopular. We addressed these concerns as part of a broader effort to establish an ongoing outreach partnership between graduate students at the University of Kansas and the Girl Scouts of Northeast Kansas/Northwest Missouri. To explore ways to advocate for insect conservation, we held an insect-collecting activity at a Girl Scout summer camp and surveyed changes in attitudes toward insects. This activity positively changed reactions to insect encounters and increased confidence in identifying harmful insects but did not strongly reduce fears or increase curiosity toward insects. Beyond these proximate results, this project highlights the potential of Girl Scout troops as targets for informal science education that can benefit both academics and the broader community.