The extensive research of our project focuses on the general demographics of the Federation of Western Outdoors Clubs. After meeting with the former president of FWOC, we found that one of the biggest points of interest for FWOC is finding a younger membership population that might be interested in taking on leadership roles in the future. We are interested in how various environmental ideas have changed over time, as well as how different demographics respond to these changing ideas. From there, we decided to administer an online survey for each of FWOC’s twelve partner clubs in Oregon to collect data on their demographics. We created an email survey that asked for age, gender, race/ethnicity, number of members, and length of membership, and then followed up with phone calls to the organizations that didn’t respond. Some of the organizations, such as the Indian Creek Botanical Mission, didn’t have an email address or phone number to contact them with, so we were unable to include them in our Oregon survey. Several other organizations failed to provide us with their demographic data, so this data might not be representative of FWOC’s membership population. It is interesting to consider who did and didn’t respond though, as networking and communication may be two aspects of successful organizations that attract younger members.
From the data we received, we found that the majority of the members of FWOC organizations are females over 50 who have been members for over six years. This matches up with FWOC’s concerns regarding leadership recruitment, as the majority of the people who are familiar with the organization are of the demographic that FWOC is not interested in recruiting their leadership from. We hope to use this demographic information to come up with the predominant environmental ideals of each group to advise FWOC on what certain age groups are interested in. We were hoping that one of the organizations would have a dramatically different demographic so we could look at what that organization did differently, but all of the organizations had very similar demographic information.
In addition to surveying the organizations under FWOC, we conducted a Fulcrum survey at the Lewis & Clark Poster Celebration in order to obtain information about how people perceive wilderness and their preferred conservation methods. We hoped to establish some sort of connection between age and how one perceives wilderness and conservation, specifically targeting the young demographic that FWOC is hoping to acquire. After asking age, education, type of community in youth/majority of life, and how often one engages in recreation or conservation activities outdoors, we asked several questions about wilderness and conservation. They are as follows:
Which definition of wilderness most appeals to you?
- A land inhabited only by wild animals
- An uncultivated, uninhabited, and inhospitable region
- A sacred place
- A tract of land officially designated as such and protected by the U.S. government
- Untapped potential for cultivation
- A legally designated area for low-impact recreation
Given the choice between the following options, in what capacity would you be most interested in contributing to the field of conservation?
- Hands-on Work (trail maintenance, reforestation, invasive species removal, etc.)
- Social and Legal Action (creating/drafting resolutions, acts, policy, etc.)
We found that the younger age correlated with an interest in hands-on work. A legally designated area for low-impact recreation and a land inhabited only by wild animals were the two wilderness categories that appealed most to this younger target demographic. While we did not find much correlation in our data, we did find that the type of conservation and wilderness appealing to the young demographic is not consistent with FWOC’s current emphasis on resolutions and conservation.