Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Forest Resources


Jessica E. Leahy

Second Committee Member

Elizabeth J. Allan

Third Committee Member

Stephen D. Reiling


This research is composed of two essays employing interpretive research to study ATV riding through the perspective of ATV clubs in Maine. Manuscript I is a study of meanings and the connections ATV riders expressed for this particular recreational activity, and Manuscript II is a study of social capital from the perspective of ATV riders as members of particular ATV clubs. Manuscript I is titled, "Connections: Integrated Meanings of ATV Riding among Club Members in Maine." This interpretive research has been identified as an appropriate way to understand and examine the meanings people construct to make sense of their experiences within a leisure or recreation phenomenon. Members (n=19) of three different all-terrain vehicle (ATV) clubs in Maine were interviewed to discover the integrated meanings of ATV riding. Common themes emerged from the analysis including participants' feelings toward nature, social interaction, and an introspective connection with self. The findings have implications for individual rider's commitment and responsibility to their outdoor recreation activity, local club members, communities, and outdoor recreation planners and managers. Manuscript II is titled, "Adapting Social Capital Theory to a Recreation-based Voluntary Association Context." Interaction in voluntary associations contributes to the formation of social capital based on investments in social relations. This study is a search for the social capital operational in a recreation-based voluntary association. Lin's (2001) model of social capital has been modified through in-depth personal interviews of 19 club members with the goal of representing the structure and network resources operational within three ATVclubs. Qualitative, interpretive research methodologies were employed to uncover how clubs develop social capital in the natural setting and focused on the thick, descriptive quality of participants' words, allowing the emergent nature of inquiry to flow from all aspects of research using the constant comparative method. This study identified hindrances to social capital within the ATV club context including the counter-norm of "bad apples" and deviation from norms by club members. Instrumental and expressive outcomes are examined which may be useful for marketing efforts promoting ATV riding to landowners, managers and communities resistant to embracing this recreational activity. The state agencies who partially fund clubs through trail grants, may find this study useful in determining the return on investment being generated by clubs.