A dissertation in Rural Sociology and Human Dimensions of Natural Resources and the Environment: Although Latinos are the fastest growing population in the United States, environmental organizations and natural resource managers have relatively little information on their attitudes and behaviors toward the natural environment. The U.S. Latino population originates from over twenty nationalities, including the U.S., and represents a broad diversity of demographic backgrounds, cultural traits, and immigration experiences which have been understudied in the environmental concerns literature. As a result of this diversity, perspectives and concerns are likely to be highly variable among Latinos, making it even more critical to center attention on the needs and concerns of this population regarding the environment.
Focusing on eleven counties of eastern Pennsylvania, this study aimed to investigate how Latino groups use and perceive natural areas such as parks, forests, and neighborhood open space. For each analysis, I examined if and how Latino perceptions and uses varied by sociodemographic background, ethnicity, and community social interactions. Then I explored associations between outdoor recreation, environmental values, and environmental behaviors. Community field theory guided the research.