A new toolkit is available for conservation professionals to use in planning and executing conservation outreach.
Developed by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) in consultation with an advisory council of conservation professionals and farmers, this new outreach toolkit will help support on-the-ground efforts to expand the use of crucial soil health practices, to reach new audiences of farmers, ranchers, and landowners, and build communication skills of conservation professionals.
“Many staff at conservation agencies and organizations have extensive training in natural and agricultural sciences, but less in communications or social sciences,” said Adam Reimer, an outreach conservation specialist with NWF. “In my career as first a social science researcher and now with NWF, I have seen the importance of local relationships and connections between conservation agencies, producers, and landowners. We have seen a lot of value in providing these skills to outreach professionals and are working to build more resources and support to allow them to be more effective in their jobs.”
Developed with support from a $86,391 SARE Professional Development grant, the online toolkit includes multimedia tutorials of social science and behavior change concepts, video testimonials of successful outreach, planning tools that guide incorporating behavior change strategies into strategic outreach planning, communication design, event development and implementation, and ongoing program evaluation.
“We have seen a lot of interest in our toolkit among outreach professionals, including local conservation district staff, university extension educators, and local conservation organizations,” said Reimer. “We’ve seen interest, especially in examples of innovative and successful outreach approaches; while there are ideas like this out there that people can find through the internet or their professional networks, having a ‘one-stop shop’ for these types of examples and resources could be very valuable for conservation professionals. In addition, we have had a lot of interest in templates or examples of event and outreach evaluation strategies, something organizations do not always have a lot of support in conducting.”
In evaluations from workshops, Reimer received many positive comments about the toolkit’s training and behavior change outreach approach.
“Building the capacity of individuals and organizations is a key part of thinking broadly about sustainability, especially the social and human capital aspects,” said Reimer. “This toolkit project was a valuable step in moving toward a set of resources and professional network building that we hope to continue in the coming years.”
Access the online toolkit at https:// growingoutreach.nwf.org/outreach-toolkit/.
Apply for a Professional Development Grant
NCR-SARE will start accepting proposals for new Professional Development grants in February. Learn more about applying.
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