Choosing Effective Outreach Techniques
What types of action can citizens take?
Researchers, outreach professionals and educators work to improve environmental management by transferring information to relevant audiences, by providing tools and techniques, and by facilitating the decision process. Environmental management and its related decision processes are dynamic and multifaceted. Personal qualities, group dynamics, politics, economics, and social structure all play a role. What kind of decision-support system must educators design to address this level of complexity? How do educators objectively facilitate citizen decision processes with the protection of the natural resource in mind?
To begin, the educator and their advisory group need to figure out what you hope a selected group of people will do in order to address the environmental concern or opportunity.
Do people need to:
- Increase understanding?
- Change their behavior?
- Develop a new plan or policy?
- Use a familiar practice or technology?
- Adopt a new practice or technology?
- Get additional information or help to solve a problem?
- Increase support for agency or community goals?
- Increase community ability to identify and carry out solutions?
- Integrate natural resource considerations into community planning activities?
- Access or interpret natural resource information to guide decision-making?
- Work with a natural resource or engineering professional to guide decision-making?
- Participate in decision-making about public concerns?
- Provide opportunities for effective citizen involvement?
- Improve strategic planning skills?
- Improve conflict management skills?
The answer is critical to developing an effective outreach or education strategy. If you are unsure about your answer to this question, consider using the BEP Decision Tree. The Decision Tree walks you through a series of questions for the following potential outreach or education goals:
I need to develop an education program or outreach strategy…
- Tree 1 – To tackle a specific water use or management problem.
- Tree 2 – To increase public awareness or help the community meet a water goal.
- Tree 3 – To build community capacity to manage water use and environmental impacts