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FS-Russell-spotlightMore than 30 million people participate in hunting and/or fishing in the United States annually, contributing billions of dollars each year to wildlife conservation. These statistics only include participants age 16 or older, but a large number of children and teenagers under the age of 16 are either directly participating in these activities or are present with parents, siblings, etc. who engage in wildlife recreation. These experiences can be formative events in children’s learning about non-human animals, nature and human-wildlife relationships.

FS-Russell extra pictureJoshua Russell, PhD, assistant professor of animal behavior, ecology, and conservation and his undergraduate research team are currently investigating children’s direct experiences of such activities through various phenomenological and ethnographic methods. In particular, they are interested in how children describe and make meaning out of these experiences that involve capturing and/or killing non-human animals, often in very particular social and ecological contexts.

The Culture and Animals Foundation recently awarded Dr. Russell a grant that will support his team’s ongoing data collection and analysis. The team conducts and analyzes interviews with children and teenagers, ages eight-16. This summer, they will also engage in participant observation of fishing at local events and locations throughout Western New York. In addition, the researchers look at social media, literature, children’s writing and educational materials in their qualitative analyses to understand the various locations where children encounter ideas about hunting or fishing.

If you know someone who is interested in participating in this research, which includes a $25 gift card, please contact Dr. Russell at

Submitted by: Sara Morris, PhD, associate vice president, academic affairs