Document Type



Doctor of Education


Educational Practice

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Theresa Coble, PhD


Carl Hoagland, EdD

Keith Miller, PhD

Phyllis Balcerzak, PhD

Dean Coble, PhD


This mixed methods study contributes to the pro-environmental behavior literature by introducing the concept of environmental science capital to explore the factors influencing pro-environmental behavior in rural youth. This study’s proposed theory of change attempts to build upon the Kollmus and Agyeman model of pro-environmental behavior by theorizing that environmental science capital is the “missing middle” needed to overcome the barriers to pro-environmental behavior. We hypothesized that meaningful nature experiences, role models, connectedness to nature, STEM interest and environmental identity would help rural youth increase their environmental science capital in order to “bridge the gap” and overcome barriers to pro-environmental behavior. We found that environmental identity, STEM interest, environmental science capital, and political identity are significant contributors to pro-environmental behavior. Qualitative findings revealed that participants use different language when describing different identities and that there is a tension between participants’ environmental identity and other self-described identities.