Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department or School

Health Sciences

Committee Member

Elizabeth Francis, PhD, OTR, Chair

Committee Member

Judy Olson, PhD, OTR

Committee Member

Kathy Siler, MS, OTR


Poets and writers have long lauded the beauty and necessity of nature. More recent literature and research has provided support for the healthful benefits of the natural environment. This literature spans the breadth of many disciplines. Yet, very little occupational therapy literature focuses on the natural environment. This is somewhat surprising given occupational therapy’s focus on space and place.

This thesis explores the experience of participation in natural environment occupations by adult members of the Sierra Club. Five Sierra Club members were interviewed and two local Sierra Club outings were observed. Qualitative data analysis revealed two major themes: childhood beginnings and adult values, and positive health benefits. This research adds to the paucity of occupational therapy literature on the natural environment and sheds light on the various benefits of natural environment occupations.