320C Kottman Hall, 2021 Coffey Rd., Columbus, OH 43210
My research focuses on experiences of place in community and natural environments with a special emphasis on children and youth from early childhood through young adulthood. I study individuals’ experiences in natural settings, geographical communities, and school- and community-based educational and recreational programs.
My current research addresses two primary areas. The first is to examine childhood experiences in nature and to further the understanding of the processes by which free play, outdoor recreation, and organizational activities relate to environmental attitudes, perceptions of nature, and concern for the natural environmental in adulthood. Additionally, I am interested in studying the opportunity structures that provide access to and engage young people in natural environments, such as community gardens and adventure based outdoor recreation programs for urban youth. I also am interested in innovative outdoor settings for young children that exist in other cultural contexts, such as forest preschools in Germany and Sweden.
The second area examines community and place attachment in adolescence and young adulthood. I focus on the processes by which individuals become engaged in or attached to geographical places, especially through civic engagement, outdoor activities, and connection to landscapes. My interests also include hometown attachment of university students and others leaving home for the first time.
- Understanding the Connection between Childhood Experiences in Nature and Environmental Attitudes and Behaviors in Young Adulthood
- Hometown Community Sentiment: Exploring the Role of Youth Civic Engagement and Childhood Place Experiences
- Youth Involvement in Ohio Community Gardening Programs
- Connecting Young Children with Nature: An Assessment of Current Childcare Practices
- Urban Youth’s Perceptions of Nature
- Environment and Natural Resources 2000 -- Natural Resources Data Analysis
- Rural Sociology 1500 -- Introduction to Rural Sociology
- A graduate level course on Environmental Evaluation is currently under development for Spring 2014
In addition to responsibilities in research and teaching, I am a State Extension Specialist with Ohio State University Extension in Leadership Development and Program Evaluation. My current efforts focus on youth leadership development. Since 2009, I have produced the weekly program, Youth Beat Radio, which airs on Columbus Community Radio Station WCRS. The show promotes youth leadership, community service, community action, and youth perspectives, and it provides an opportunity for high school and university students to engage in key production responsibilities. Topics include environmental issues, recreation, health, culture, arts, music, and current events.
Ph.D., Human Development and Family Studies, Iowa State University, 1998
M.S., Home Economics/Child and Family Services, University of Wisconsin-Stout, 1993
B.A., Social Work, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1986
Wells, N. W. and Lekies, K.S. (2012). Children and nature: Following the trail to environmental attitudes and behaviors. In, J. Dickinson and R. Bonney (Eds.), Citizen science: Public collaboration in environmental research Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Lekies, K.S. (2011). Connection to place: Exploring community satisfaction and attachment among rural youth. Children, Youth, and Environments 21, 77-99.
Lekies, K.S. and Whitworth, B. (2011). Constructing the nature experience: A semiotic examination of signs on the trail. The American Sociologist 42, 249-260.
Lekies, K.S. and Bennett, A. (2011). The evaluation attitudes and practices of Ohio 4-H educators. Journal of Extension 49(1). http://www.joe.org/joe/2011february/rb2.php
Ferrari, T.M., Lekies, K.S. and Arnett, N. (2009). Opportunities matter: Exploring youth’s perspectives on their long-term participation in an urban 4-H youth development program. Journal of Youth Development 4(3).
Lekies, K.S., Baker, B. and Baldini, J. (2009). Assessing participation in Youth Community Action projects: Opportunities and barriers. Community Development: Journal of the Community Development Society 40, 346-358.
Lekies, K. S. (2009). Youth engagement in the community: The ethics of inclusion and exclusion. Les Atheliers de L’ethique, 4(1), 156-164. http://www.creum.umontreal.ca/IMG/pdf_16_Lekies.pdf
Lekies, K.S., Eames-Sheavly, M., MacDonald, L.and Wong, K.J. (2007). Greener Voices: Strategies to increase the participation of children and youth in gardening activities. Children, Youth, and Environments 17, 517-526.
Lekies, K.S. and Eames-Sheavly, M. (2007). Fostering children’s interests in gardening. Applied Environmental Education and Communication 6, 67-75.
Wells, N.M. and Lekies, K.S. (2006). Nature and the life course: Pathways from childhood experiences with nature to adult environmentalism. Children, Youth, and Environments 16 (1-24).