Ph.D.  University of Florida, Gainesville

Forest Resources and Conservation, Educational Research and Evaluation

M.Ed.  University of Minnesota, Duluth

Environmental Education

B.A.  College of St. Benedict, St. Joseph, MN

Education, Environmental Studies


Professional Experiences
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Fergus Falls Wetland Management District), Environmental Education Specialist; Instructor at the National Conservation Training Center
  • USDA Forest Service (Region 9 Office), Public Affairs Specialist
  • National Park Service (Badlands National Park, Voyageurs National Park), Education Specialist; Park Ranger
Research Areas and Interests
  • Environmental Education Program Evaluation
  • Environment-Based Education/Environment as an Integrating Context Programs/Environmental Service Learning
  • Early Childhood Environmental Education
  • Federal Agency EE/Resource Education/Conservation Education Programs
  • Connectedness to Nature, Nature Images, and Landscape Preferences as applied to Environmental Education

Refereed Publications

     *Other scholarly work  and funded projects available upon request


Ernst, J., Johnson, M. & Burcak, F.  (2018). The nature and nurture of resilience: Exploring the impact of nature preschools on young children’s protective factors.  Accepted for publication in International Journal of Early Childhood Environmental Education.

Ernst, J.  (2018). Zoos’ and aquariums’ impact and influence on connecting families to nature: An evaluation of the national Nature Play Begins at Your Zoo & Aquarium Program.  Accepted in Visitor Studies.


Wojciehowski, M. & Ernst, J.  (2018). Creative by nature: Investigating the impact of nature preschools on children’s creative thinking.  International Journal of Early Childhood Environmental Education, 6(1), 3-20.


Ernst, J, and Erickson, D.  (2018). Environmental education professional development for teachers: A study of the impact and influence of mentoring.  Journal of Environmental Education. DOI: 10.1080/00958964.2018.1451813


Ernst, J.  (2018). Exploring young children’s and parents’ preferences for outdoor play settings and affinity toward nature.  International Journal of Early Childhood Environmental Education, 5(2), 30-45.

Hughes, A., Zak, K., Ernst, J. & Meyer, R.  (2017). Exploring the intersection of beliefs toward outdoor play and cold weather among Northeast Minnesota’s formal education and non-formal EE communities.  International Journal of Early Childhood Education, 5(1), 20-38.

Hanson, E.; Ernst, J. & Washburne, J. (2017). Interpretive accommodations for National Park Service visitors who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing.  Journal of Interpretation Research, Volume 22(1) 1-32. 

Li, J. & Ernst, J.  (2015). Exploring value orientations toward the human–nature relationship: A comparison of urban youth in Minnesota, USA and Guangdong, China.  Environmental Education Research, 21(4), 556-585. 

Ernst, J., Blood, N., Beery, T.  (2015).  Environmental action and student environmental leaders: Exploring the influence of environmental attitudes, locus of control, and sense of personal responsibility.  Environmental Education Research, DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2015.1068278.

Ernst, J.  (2014).  Early childhood educators' preferences and perceptions regarding outdoor settings as learning environments.  International Journal of Early Childhood Environmental Education, 2(1), 97-125.

Ernst, J. (2014). Early childhood educators’ use of natural outdoor settings as learning environments: An exploratory study of beliefs, practices, and barriers.  Environmental Education Research, 20(6), 735-752.

Li, J. & Ernst, J.   (2014).  Exploring American and Chinese urban youth’s value-orientations toward the human-nature relationship.  Environmental Education Research. DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2014.910499.

Ernst, J. & Schwartz, J.  (2013).  Environmental service and outdoor adventure as a context for positive youth development: An evaluation of the Crow River Trail Guards program.  Journal of Youth Development, 8(2), 57-75.

Tanner, D. & Ernst, J.  (2013) Who goes there? Linking remote cameras and schoolyard science to  empower environmental action.  Journal of Experiential Education, 36(2), 106-122. 

Torquati, J. & Ernst, J.  (2013).  Beyond the walls: Expanding inquiry on environment as the “Third Educator.”  Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 34(2), 191-208.  

Theimer, S. & Ernst, J. (2012). Fostering connectedness to nature through U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service education and outreach programming: A qualitative evaluation.  Applied Environmental Education and Communication, 11(2), 79-87. 

Ernst, J.  (2012).  Early childhood nature play: A needs assessment of Minnesota licensed childcare providers.  Journal of Interpretation Research, 17(1), 7-24.


Ernst, J. & Tornabene, L.  (2012).  Preservice early childhood educators’ perceptions of outdoor settings as learning environments.  Environmental Education Research, 18(5), 643-664.

Ernst, J.  (2012).  Influences on and obstacles to K-12 administrators' support for environment-based education.  Journal of Environmental Education, 43(2), 73-92.

Ernst, J.  & Theimer, S.   (2011).  Evaluating the effects of environmental education programming on connectedness to nature.   Environmental Education Research, 17(5), 577-598. 

Ernst, J.  (2010).  Fishing: Get in the Habitat! MinnAqua Leader’s Guide: An evaluation of distribution methods, implementation, and program outcomes.  Applied Environmental Education and Communications, 9(2), 104-121.  

Ernst, J.  (2009).  Influences on U.S. middle school teachers’ use of environment-based education.  Environmental Education Research, 15(1), 71-92.

Ernst, J.  (2009, July/August) Evaluating MinnAqua’s Fishing: Get in the Habitat! Leader’s Guide: Implications for the interpretive community.  Legacy, 20(4), 28-31.

Ernst, J.  (2007).  Teacher persistence in EE: Implications for the interpretive community.  Journal of Interpretation Research, 12(1), 51-65.

Ernst, J.  (2007).  Factors influencing K-12 teachers’ use of environment-based education.  Journal of Environmental Education, 38(3), 15-32. 

Ernst, J. & Stanek, D.  (2006).  The Prairie Science Class: A model for re-visioning environmental education within the National Wildlife Refuge System.  Human Dimensions of Wildlife, 11, 255


Ernst, J.  (2006, November/December).  Against all odds: Teacher persistence in environmental education.  The Interpreter, 2(6), 10-13.

Ernst, J.  (2005).  A formative evaluation of the Prairie Science Class.  Journal of Interpretation Research, 10(1), 9-30.

Ernst, J.  (2005, September/October).  Evaluating the Prairie Science Class.  The Interpreter, 1(5),6-9.

Ernst, J. & Ellis, D.  (2005, April).  The Prairie Science Class: Pioneering a trail in interdisciplinary learning.  Science Scope, 28(7), 16-19. (60% Ernst, 40% Ellis) (Cited by 4, Google Scholar)

Ernst, J. & Monroe, M.  (2004).  The effects of environment-based education on students’ critical thinking skills and disposition toward critical thinking.  Environmental Education Research, 10(4),


          *Selected for reprinting in a special issue of Environmental Education Research, Celebrating Ten Years of  

            Environmental Education Research, 12(3/4), 429-443. (2006) (230 views,  Taylor & Francis Online; Cited by 20, Google


         *Selected for reprinting in A.D. Reid & W.A.H. Scott (Eds.), Researching education and the environment: 

           Retrospect and prospect (pp. 183-197).  London: Routledge Publishing.  Hardback ISBN 978-0-415-44567-2 (2007)

Athman (Ernst), J. & Monroe, M.  (2004).  The effects of environment-based education on students’ achievement motivation.  Journal of Interpretation Research, 9(1), 9-25.  

Athman (Ernst), J.  (2001, January/February).  Urban environmental education – Tree-house style!  Legacy, 12(1), 14-20.

 Athman (Ernst), J.  (1998, November/December).  E-mail, GIS, and eagle nests: Technology at work in environmental education.  Legacy, 9(6), 25-27. 

Athman (Ernst), J. & Bates, T.  (1998, May/June).  Technology and environmental education – Friend or foe?  Legacy, 9(3), 12-15.  (75% Ernst, 25% Bates)

Athman (Ernst), J.  (1997, July/August).  Parks as Classrooms field trips: Just another day in the park?  Legacy, 8(4), 14-36.






Last Updated: November 20, 2018