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Sustainability education in a botanical garden promotes environmental knowledge, attitudes and willingness to act

Creating behavior change to mobilize transitions toward sustainability is a significant challenge of our time. Inspired by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s Farmer Field School, we developed a novel community-based education program to engage people in local
sustainability topics. In the Sustainable Communities Field School (Field School) program, advertised as team building tours, participants from local organizations are guided by instructors through University of British Columbia Botanical Garden, while receiving verbal and experiential
education on topics of food systems and choices, biodiversity conservation, water conservation, and waste reduction. We found that after the Field School program, participants were significantly more knowledgeable about environmental issues, more connected to nature, showed greater intentions and willingness to engage in sustainability actions compared to garden visitors from the general public who did not go through the program. The results suggest that interactive sustainability education in a botanical garden setting can be a useful education model to mobilize public engagement on sustainability.