Zuleica Gerardo


Education: Bachelor of Science in parks management and conservation (May 2016)

Currently pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in sociology at the University of Kansas

McNair Project: Imagining Nature: How People of Color Experience the Great Outdoors (2015)

Mentor: Spencer Wood, Ph.D.

How do minorities use their interactions with nature and green spaces to create their own identity? This pilot study involves the incorporation of race into environmental sociology, an understudied aspect of the field.The researcher interviewed three women and two men at parks in Manhattan, KS and Kansas City, KS to explore counter narratives of the minority experience in the outdoors. Using NVivo, the five interviews were transcribed and analyzed. Preliminary findings show that 4 out of 5 respondents acknowledged a spiritual tie to nature. All respondents spoke of nature being a teaching medium, whether teaching about appreciation or stewardship or learning life lessons from being in nature. All the respondents also believe their respective social circles are active and enjoy the outdoors, mostly more than themselves. The full study will consist of a revised interview instrument and a more diverse pool of respondents.