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.

Key Measures:

  • 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)
Revolutionize engagement opportunities (volunteering, hosting workshops, event participation, etc.) to build personal ecological stewardship capacity
  • Increase conversion rate of people engaged to participate in our programming to 0.5 % of participants from targeted program events/workshops (i.e. Plant Sale). First year start with select tracked events/workshops and then assess in second year for added events/workshops to track.
  • 50% of workshop attendees begin implementing conservation practice within 6 months
Q1 2021 - Q1 2023
Revolutionize educational opportunities (workshops, trainings, events, etc.) to incite meaningful environmental action
  • 90% of all education programming participants display knowledge gain
  • 50% of workshop attendees begin implementing conservation practice within a year. Phase in pilot surveys for first year for all programs (use Tree Sale as an example). *Surveys will go out 1-2 times a year.
Q1 2021 - Q4 2025
Develop a participatory model for our educational programs that incorporates the three elements of teaching/showing/questioning. Ongoing education throughout event.
  • Facilitated discussion amongst staff who lead education programs to identify how increase in knowledge can be achieved.
  • Create District model for participatory workshops.
  • Assessment of current education programming and where teaching/showing/questioning is involved or to be added.
  • Providing follow up literature or other educational materials for review after program has ended for select or targeted workshops/events.
Q1 2023 - Q1 2024
Integrate pre and post survey process into workshop, training, or education series to assess knowledge gain and behavior change.
  • Standardized surveys for program workshops, trainings or education series.
  • All programs assess and review surveys. Separate survey templates for AmeriCorps (Forms) and program staff (Surveys).
  • 90% of all education programming participants display knowledge gain
  • 50% of workshop attendees begin implementing conservation practice within a year. *Note surveys will be sent 1-2 times a year.
Q2 2021 - Q4 2021
Create high school leadership program that bridges school learning and PCD volunteer opportunities, career pathways, and higher education.
  • PCD/Student co-design process completed to create leadership program that bridges school learning and PCD volunteer opportunities, career pathways, and higher education.
  • School counselors, high school educators, and partner organizational leaders from prioritized EE areas equipped with information they need to refer students to future opportunities in ecological stewardship.
Q3 2022 - Q4 2025
Make connections between soil science, food systems, climate change, etc. explicit in our curriculum
  • Climate education is incorporated within all other education lessons and units
  • Expand number of school garden programs to 10
  • Increase the proportion of school programs that focus on soil/food to 60% of programming and 35% of contact hours
Q1 2021 - Q4 2025
Apply equity analysis to current educational programming and refine educational model to reflect equity-promoting best practices
  • Equity assessment conducted on existing PCD educational programming using equity indicators/dashboard; increase in workshop, training, etc. participant satisfaction
Q1 2022 - Q4 2022
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
  • Develop prioritization of EE program delivery with guidance from GIS consultant.
  • Begin program development to implement within 2 years (2023-2024)
Q1 2022 - Q4 2022
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.
  • Identify potential people of color led organization(s) partners with help of Equity Team.
  • Begin process of partnering for workshops.
  • Each program team identifies and works with a POC partner for a workshop within 2 years (2023-2024).
  • Educational program delivery is representative of Pierce County demographics
Q1 2022 - Q4 2022
Develop a Strategic Communications Plan
  • Plan is finished by 2022 and integrates social media, video, print, and outreach strategies to maximize impact with our messaging.
  • Increase conversion rate of people engaged to people that participate in our programming by .5%
Q1 2021 - Q4 2022
Develop new outreach materials for each program that incite action
  • New outreach materials for:
    • PCD (Standardized PowerPoint Template for PCD, new brochure)
    • Green Stormwater Infrastructure Program
    • Habitat Stewards
    • Stream Team
    • Farm Team
    • Climate Change
    • Prioritizations
    • Equity Journey storytelling
Q1 2021 - Q4 2022
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.
  • Standard PCD script created and implemented within all program workshops, trainings, and series.
Q1 2021 - Q4 2021
Develop Jurisdictional Report templates and begin delivering reports to partners
  • Create template for Jurisdictional Reports within first year
  • Deliver reports to jurisdictional partners in second year
Q1 2021 - Q4 2022
Highlight examples of successful conservation efforts in order to inspire other positive action
  • Create 5-7 promotional productions (e.g. videos) on high priority projects with one production per year after establishment in Q4 2023.
  • Utilize outreach tools such as media development; story maps; video production; Tahoma View; and Conservation Celebrations
One major project per year
Work with PCD Board of Supervisors to develop outreach packets to support their efforts as ambassadors for the organization
Q3 2021 - Q2 2022
Adapt educational programming to advances in technology and community need
  • 90% of program staff are proficient in applying use of digital platforms
  • 80% of participants report the digital platforms as effective
  • Develop and deliver 2 needed Educational Series
Q1 2021 - Q1 2025
Increase District capacity to provide all in-person education via distance learning programs (virtual and offline).
  • All programs provide distance education programming in addition to in-person programming
  • 70% of all education programming participants display knowledge gain
  • 25% of distance learning program participants begin implementing conservation practice within a year. *Note surveys will be sent 1-2 times/year.
Q1 2021 - Q1 2023
Identify and fill gaps in our Educational Series (For example – creating a native plant education series that leads up to the native plant sale.)
  • 100% of gaps identified through stakeholder feedback loops are filled within 12 months
Q1 2022 - Q4 2025