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Lincoln Larson

Assoc Professor

Biltmore Hall (Robertson Wing) 4008L

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  • B.S., Biology, Duke University
  • M.S., Forest Resources, University of Georgia
  • Ph.D., Natural Resources Recreation and Tourism, University of Georgia

Courses Taught at NC State:

IPGE/PRT 295 – Nature, Health & Wellness
PRT 230 – Foundations of Outdoor Recreation Management
PRT 452/552 – Field Experience in Nature-based Recreation & Tourism Management
PRT 500 – Conceptual Foundations of Recreation
PRT 550 – Human Behavior & the Environment

For more information about the courses Dr. Larson teaches, please visit:

Research Interests:

Dr. Larson uses a variety of social science methods to understand human-environment interactions and address natural resource management and conservation issues. His human dimensions research questions and projects focus on three broad themes (natural resource management and conservation, outdoor recreation and health, and environmental education and stewardship) that are designed to help scientists, land managers, and the general public understand, communicate, and collaboratively respond to emerging challenges facing parks and protected areas. Dr. Larson’s recent work has focused on many different topics including:

  • Parks and protected area management
  • Nature-based recreation, health, and well-being
  • Community-based conservation and sustainable development
  • Human-wildlife interactions and conflict
  • Environmental education and interpretation

For more information about Dr. Larson’s work, please visit:

Grants & Research Projects:

Dr. Larson has served as a principal investigator or co-investigator on many different research projects funded by a variety of agencies and organizations, including:

  • National Science Foundation
  • U.S.D.A. Forest Service
  • U.S.D.A. National Institute of Food and Agriculture
  • U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
  • Institute of Museum and Library Services
  • North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
  • North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission
  • South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
  • New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
  • Georgia Department of Natural Resources
  • Boy Scouts of American National Foundation
  • National Audubon Society

He has also conducted unfunded research focused on improving teaching and learning at multiple levels ranging from non-formal youth camps to college classrooms.


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Date: 07/01/17 - 6/30/26
Amount: $5,538,530.00
Funding Agencies: NC Dept. of Natural & Cultural Resources formerly NC Dept of Env. & Natural Resources (DENR)

The Recreation Resources Service (RRS) is established for the specific purpose of providing assistance to public and private segments of the leisure service industry within North Carolina. Clientele of the program include: municipal and county park and recreation departments, nonprofit agencies, private recreation agencies, recreation consumer groups, and recreation and park board and commission members. RRS provides timely,cutting edge technical assistance to improve community park and recreation opportunities, sponsors a variety of continuing education opportunities addressing current issues facing park and recreation professionals, conducts applied research studies, and assist communities with state and federal park and recreation grants.

Date: 06/02/23 - 6/30/25
Amount: $196,865.00
Funding Agencies: NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

Research team will work with RRS and NC State Parks to collect visitor use and count data for the State Parks Vehicle Study that occurs every five years. We will augment this data with intercept surveys in selected state parks to paint a more holistic picture of state park-based visitation and recreation outcomes.

Date: 09/30/22 - 8/31/24
Amount: $115,997.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA)

The objectives of the project are to: a) conduct focus groups and ethnographic interviews to ascertain the specific challenges faced by underserved landowners; b) use complementary qualitative and quantitative methodologies to identify themes across states and stakeholder groups; c) discuss research results with partner organizations to formulate concrete suggestions for increasing CRP enrollment; and d) develop a web-based application for streamlining the CRP application process for landowners, including an innovative experimental procedure based on the inputs obtained during the initial phases of the project.

Date: 10/01/19 - 9/29/23
Amount: $356,750.00
Funding Agencies: Institute of Museum & Library Services

Through a collaboration between the NC Museum of Natural Sciences (NCMNS) and NC State University (NCSU), the goal of this proposed Building Capacity, research-in-service-of-practice project is to develop and foster a Community of Practice (CoP) for collective evaluation among a set of 54 non-formal science museums across the state of North Carolina. Programs at science museums have the capacity to contribute to a variety of informal learning outcomes across diverse populations, increasing knowledge and understanding of science as well as broader science literacy. Evaluation provides concrete evidence regarding the degree to which an educational program is working to achieve these goals, thus informing important decisions regarding further design, development, and implementation. However, despite these benefits, evaluation is not widely utilized across the field of informal science education. Many non-formal science education entities conduct programs without knowing if they are working and, perhaps more importantly, without identifying what they are trying to achieve. Over three years, a series of regional professional development workshops and subsequent program evaluations will: 1) create a shared sense of purpose for programming and evaluation, 2) build capacity among science museum educators to conduct evaluation for their programs, and 3) establish a set of common metrics and methodologies for collective evaluation across the state and beyond. In addition, as the concept of collective evaluation is relatively new in museum programming and informal learning, evaluation efforts from this project will contribute to the scholarship of informal learning research and evaluation. In addition to evaluation of the project using the IMLS’s Building Capacity Performance Measure Statements, project success will be evaluated through mixed methods measurement of the achievement of defined project outcomes: 1) Increased perception of a common agenda among informal science education museums across the state of NC, 2) Increased use of common metrics across informal science education museums across the state of NC, 3) Increased capacity to conduct program evaluation within NC science museums, and 4) Increased levels of collaboration among informal science education museums across the state of NC.

Date: 09/01/17 - 8/31/23
Amount: $868,885.00
Funding Agencies: National Science Foundation (NSF)

The goal of this proposed Research in Service to Practice proposal is to develop evidence-based principles to guide citizen science project owners in the coordinated management of project participants within the SciStarter landscape. SciStarter is a repository of over 1,500 citizen science projects. Through an AISL-Pathways award, the researchers developed SciStarter 2.0 tools which can be used to study and coordinate recruitment and retention strategies across projects. Coordinated management has the potential to deepen volunteer learning and growth and benefit project goals because it can address across-project skew, evolving motivations, seasonal gaps, untapped synergies across projects, and other unanticipated factors that cannot be addressed via management within project silos. The researchers designed SciStarter for embedded tracking of participation dynamics in a landscape of projects. They propose to expand embedded assessment to measure scientific, learning, and conservation outcomes and their links to participation dynamics within and across projects. Through social network analysis, they will describe patterns of bridges, ties, and distances among projects based on the cross-over of participants. They also propose qualitative research to understand project managers? perceptions of SciStarter and the costs and benefits of coordinated management of citizen scientists. Ultimately, the proposed study will lead to guidance to create synergies and mutually beneficial outcomes among projects by broader adoption of the newly developed SciStarter 2.0 tools.

Date: 08/01/21 - 8/01/23
Amount: $130,582.00
Funding Agencies: US Fish & Wildlife Service

We propose a project to measure support for chronic wasting disease (CWD) management among North Carolina (NC) deer hunters and determine how that support may change if/when CWD emerges in NC. This information is critical to ensure the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC) can most effectively enact CWD prevention measures and carry out an effective response in the future if CWD emerges in the state. This project will address the following research objectives: 1. Measure CWD knowledge levels among deer hunters 2. Measure CWD risk perception among deer hunters 3. Determine intended behaviors related to CWD management among deer hunters 4. Measure willingness to pay for CWD management, and preferred mechanisms for payment, among deer hunters 5. Develop and test a synthesizing theoretical model for relationships among key drivers of deer hunters’ CWD relevant behaviors

Date: 12/31/21 - 7/01/23
Amount: $56,046.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Interior (DOI)

Achieving the Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy (SECAS) goal of a 10% improvement in health, function, and connectivity in southeastern ecosystems by 2060 requires regional conservation efforts. Regional science based conservation partnerships are critical for AFWA goals (e.g., President’s task force report), national responses to SWAP revisions (Mawdsley et al., 2020), tackling the 30x30 initiative (Stein et al., 2021), and responding to climate change (Lackstrom et al., 2018). We propose addressing the primary gap in knowledge around viability of regional responses to wildlife conservation initiatives by surveying state agency leadership (at the division chief level) and field biologists from across the SEAFWA states. We will address several questions. First, we will measure which elements of wildlife conservation respondents are willing to engage in at a regional level and how much they are willing to push for a regional response to each element (Objective 1). The ten elements to be assessed include the eight required elements of the 2025 SWAPs as well as the 30x30 initiative and climate change adaptation. The SWAP elements, however, may be collapsed into a smaller set based on feedback from the project advisory board (e.g., planning for adaptive management and coordinating among stakeholders could be merged). Second, we will ask respondents what assistance is most valuable for developing regional responses (Objective 2). Third, we will ask participants to list perceived costs (e.g., interfering with long term data collection for indices) and benefits (e.g., leveraging resources across state borders) associated with regional planning for each element (Objective 3).

Date: 07/01/20 - 6/30/23
Amount: $199,371.00
Funding Agencies: US Forest Service

Despite many benefits of urban greening, tree-planting programs in diverse communities nationwide often face strong local resistance, especially on private lands. This resistance impacts the success of initiatives such as Green Heart, an urban greening effort in Louisville, KY, designed to create healthier neighborhoods by encouraging tree planting to mitigate air pollution. Working with leaders of Green Heart, our project will investigate various factors (social and/or environmental) that influence the success of greening interventions and identify environmentally just practices to promote healthy urban communities across the US. Using Louisville as a case study, with lessons learned from other cities, we aim to: (1) Synthesize current state of knowledge regarding public support for urban greening across diverse communities; (2) Identify factors associated with tree-planting program success; (3) Examine public perceptions of relationships between urban trees, health, and neighborhood change; and (4) Define and share best practices to promote a national community of practice focused on equitable and inclusive urban greening. Our efforts will culminate in a “best practice” guide and toolkit, shared with a growing national community of practice promoting social equity in urban forestry. Ultimately, the project will identify strategies to promote urban greening with communities, not just within communities. 

Date: 01/01/22 - 5/31/23
Amount: $39,694.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Interior (DOI)

Recent R3 projects focused on college students, such as Academics Afield, have demonstrated success and revealed unique opportunities for recruiting new hunters from non-traditional backgrounds (e.g., women, young adults from urban areas). However, more can be done to diversify the population of young adults who participate in these programs. In September 2021, the Georgia Wildlife Federation, working in conjunction with our NCSU team, was awarded a grant from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) Multistate Conservation Grant Program (MSCGP) to extend and expand the effective Academics Afield program model to focus on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) across the Southeastern United States. Our team at NC State University will be helping to implement and evaluate this project. We will leverage our existing experience, infrastructure, and partnerships to identify and address the unique constraints faced by African Americans and create opportunities to make hunting and shooting sports more relevant and inclusive for students of color. In addition to increasing participation in hunting and shooting sports, this project will also help underrepresented and historically marginalized populations forge a stronger positive relationship with the outdoors, hunting, and wildlife management agencies.

Date: 07/01/19 - 6/30/21
Amount: $107,621.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Interior (DOI)

Declining hunting participation negatively impacts state and federal agencies’ ability to achieve wildlife management objectives and generate revenue for conservation activities. The decline is driven, in large part, by decreasing numbers of young adult hunters. Our study will focus on one particularly promising audience - college students – in an attempt to reverse these declines. We will addressing NCN #9 by identifying opportunities for recruiting new hunters as well as retaining or reactivating individuals with previous hunting experience. To accomplish this, we will work with multiple state agencies and public universities in two-phased project. First, we will survey diverse undergraduate students at participating universities to assess their hunting-related perceptions and behaviors and highlight potential R3 programming and outreach opportunities targeting specific subgroups. Second, we will utilize this information to develop, implement, and evaluate R3 workshops for college students without (or with very little) previous hunting experience. Our goal is to reveal best practices for cultivating and sustaining positive perceptions of and participation in hunting across different geographical and cultural contexts. Results shared via a Practitioner’s Guide (with suggested R3 Program Outline), academic publications/presentation, and workshops will help agency professionals, educators, and researchers understand and connect with young adult audiences.  

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