Strategy: Create Communities of Action
Education and Outreach has always been a core component of our mission and the service we provide to the community, and as such, this strategy is the backbone of achieving the goals and outcomes of every other strategy in this plan. Individuals with the knowledge, tools, confidence, and motivation to create a balanced relationship with nature are more likely to support strategic efforts related to ecological stewardship. By boosting efforts to create ecoliterate communities in Pierce County, we not only amplify the effectiveness of our programs, but also model promising strategies for our peers. While education is an end in and of itself, our goal with this strategy is for our education efforts, both with children and adults, to have a deeper impact by giving people the support they need to turn that education into action.
We reach thousands of people each year via workshops, farm tours, virtual trainings, educational tables at public events and social media. In the past, simply reaching these people with our message was the goal, and we tallied up the numbers of people we reached, then celebrated the growth in our audience year after year. The work to build our audience and reach more people will continue, but to deepen our impact, we’re creating tools and methods to follow up with the people we reach to “revolutionize engagement opportunities (volunteering, hosting workshops, event participation, etc.) to build personal ecological stewardship capacity.” If for example, we reach 1,000 people with educational programming, but only 10 people implement the conservation practice we’re promoting, our conversion rate is only 1% and our impact on cultivating stewardship capacity is minimal. By focusing energy on increasing our conversion rates and creating more follow up with those same 1,000 people, our efforts will lead to more on-the-ground work getting done, improving the community for all of us.
To achieve this, it’s not simply a matter of following up with people more, we also need to evolve how we deliver our educational programming. This is why our education and outreach staff will work to “revolutionize educational opportunities (workshops, trainings, events, etc.) to incite meaningful environmental action.” Giving someone the knowledge of how to implement a practice isn’t the same as fostering a commitment in that person to actually implement the practice. We can’t achieve the big goals that we’ve set for our organization and the community simply through the projects we manage, we need to mobilize as much of the community as we can to work towards those same goals.
Since 2016, we have been working to embed equity initiatives throughout our organization and in this new strategic plan, we will be focusing our equity efforts on program delivery. As we “apply an equity analysis to current educational programming and refine our educational model to reflect equity-promoting best practices,” we will be looking at where, what, how and to whom we deliver our educational programming to help ensure we’re delivering equitable programming to those most in need. Our youth programming, which focuses on in-class and field trip lessons for K-12 students, will be targeted to those with the least access to the outdoors and experiential learning, to provide opportunity to connect personally to nature and to the lessons. We will also create feedback loops with people of color led groups to continue to evolve and improve our programming.
Reaching people where they’re at with our message is an ever-changing challenge. The materials, technologies, and messages must continue to evolve to help inspire people to act to improve our natural resources and community. To continue this evolution, we will “develop a Strategic Communications Plan” to include new outreach materials for each of our core programs, new talking points for our staff, new reporting mechanism to inform the community and partners of the impact of our work and new stories to inspire positive action. These materials will also meaningfully include Traditional Ecological Knowledge to connect our messages back to the tribal land we’re on and the cultural importance of our efforts.
At the time of this writing, the COVID-19 pandemic is still devastating our community, and it has made it painfully obvious that we must adapt our programming, no matter what the circumstances. The impacts of climate change, pollution, development and other pressures on our ecosystems don’t stop when a new threat emerges, so we can’t stop our efforts either. To this end, we will “adapt our educational programming to advances in technology and community need”, and make sure that our programming can reach as many people as possible, no matter what’s going on in the world around us.
We are focused on Building Communities of Action because we believe it will take all of us to achieve the future this plan envisions. Together, and through these efforts, we believe that by 2040, everyone in Pierce County will have equitable access to environmental education and opportunities to rebalance our communities’ relationship with nature. People will know how to positively affect change by effectively navigating and taking leadership in ecological, social and civic systems.
- Program participant, volunteer and workshop attendee feedback on quality, accessibility, and contribution to building personal ecological stewardship capacity
- Quality of partnership with Black, Indigenous, and People of Color-led organizations/community groups
- Ability of the District’s outreach, communication, and educational materials to engage new/diverse stakeholders in District programming
| ||Key Action||Five-Year Target(s)||Timeline|
|1||Revolutionize engagement opportunities (volunteering, hosting workshops, event participation, etc.) to build personal ecological stewardship capacity||Q1 2021 - Q1 2023|
|2||Revolutionize educational opportunities (workshops, trainings, events, etc.) to incite meaningful environmental action||Q1 2021 - Q4 2025|
|a||Develop a participatory model for our educational programs that incorporates the three elements of teaching/showing/questioning. Ongoing education throughout event.||Q1 2023 - Q1 2024|
|b||Integrate pre and post survey process into workshop, training, or education series to assess knowledge gain and behavior change.||Q2 2021 - Q4 2021|
|c||Create high school leadership program that bridges school learning and PCD volunteer opportunities, career pathways, and higher education.||Q3 2022 - Q4 2025|
|d||Make connections between soil science, food systems, climate change, etc. explicit in our curriculum||Q1 2021 - Q4 2025|
|3||Apply equity analysis to current educational programming and refine educational model to reflect equity-promoting best practices||Q1 2022 - Q4 2022|
|a||Conduct prioritization process to focus EE Program delivery on students of color, low income students and youth most likely to not have access to experiential learning||Q1 2022 - Q4 2022|
|b||Identify gaps in who and where we serve, and reach out to more diverse groups for classes/workshops. Obtain feedback from POC groups on how to hold classes/workshops and create welcoming spaces both online and in person.||Q1 2022 - Q4 2022|
|4||Develop a Strategic Communications Plan||Q1 2021 - Q4 2022|
|a||Develop new outreach materials for each program that incite action||Q1 2021 - Q4 2022|
|b||Develop standard talking points for each program to introduce the audience to PCD at workshops, trainings, and educational series. Make these talking points meaningfully include Traditional Ecological Knowledge, and acknowledge that we’re on tribal land, and relevant climate change language.||Q1 2021 - Q4 2021|
|c||Develop Jurisdictional Report templates and begin delivering reports to partners||Q1 2021 - Q4 2022|
|d||Highlight examples of successful conservation efforts in order to inspire other positive action||One major project per year|
|e||Work with PCD Board of Supervisors to develop outreach packets to support their efforts as ambassadors for the organization|| ||Q3 2021 - Q2 2022|
|5||Adapt educational programming to advances in technology and community need||Q1 2021 - Q1 2025|
|a||Increase District capacity to provide all in-person education via distance learning programs (virtual and offline).||Q1 2021 - Q1 2023|
|b||Identify and fill gaps in our Educational Series (For example – creating a native plant education series that leads up to the native plant sale.)||Q1 2022 - Q4 2025|