Effectiveness of a marine conservation education program in Okayama, Japan
Sustainable management of coastal areas including their natural resources cannot be effectively implemented without the continued involvement of residents who are knowledgeable about the value of conservation. Carrying out long‐term conservation education programs and monitoring the impacts of such program in terms of changing people's awareness and behaviors are critical for conservation to be meaningful and sustainable. This research focused on a marine conservation education program (MCEP) offered at a junior high school in Japan that included collaboration with local fishermen. We aimed to reveal how such continuous and collaborative education program including field experience may change students' awareness and behaviors after several years. We conducted interviews with student participants, comparing their perceptions of when they were first‐graders and third‐graders, and with recent program graduates to understand their perception of the program and knowledge about the local environment. We also conducted surveys with parents and teachers at the junior high school to understand the impacts of the program. A series of studies revealed that the MCEP not only changed students' awareness and behaviors but also affected their parents and teachers.