Communications-and-Education

Group Facilitators: Rachel Rommel and Candace Hansen-Hendrikx

ASG Secretariat Lead Contact: Marcileida Dos Santos (ldossantos[at]amphibians.org)

Vision

Secure the world’s endangered amphibians and their habitats through empowered communities that are motivated to act on behalf of biodiversity conservation.

Goals

Communication and education, along with other strategies for public engagement*, are key to catalyzing and sustaining action for biodiversity conservation. These social strategies should be informed by the best available science and practice, just like the biological aspects of conservation management. We must identify threats to amphibian diversity at local, regional, and global scales, bringing about the learning and collaboration needed to facilitate change and address these challenges. Critical to our success, this work will require renewed and expanded dedication to the cooperation and exchange of information across academic and professional disciplines, as well as with diverse stakeholders and partners. Lastly, we must harness the expertise and passion of our global community to facilitate nature based experiences and active participation in amphibian and habitat conservation.

Our working goals:

1) Increase collaboration across disciplines, professions, and stakeholder groups to find sustainable solutions to amphibian declines.

2) Build capacity and provide resources to plan, implement, and evaluate effective public engagement* programs.

3) Identify, engage, and empower target audiences to take action to monitor and protect amphibians and habitats.

4) Using amphibians as ambassadors, increase experiential learning opportunities in communities across the globe to inspire deeper connections with nature.

5) Continue to raise awareness and knowledge of the ecological, cultural, and intrinsic value of amphibians and their habitats.

*We define public engagement throughout this plan as a broad term to encompass social strategies such as social marketing, communications, environmental education, capacity building, citizen science, advocacy, and community outreach.

Current Priority Actions

The following are immediate priorities identified by the Communications and Education Working Group. These actions are expected to change as progress is made in addressing the issues.

Major Constraints To Effective ConservationMid-term Priorities Short-term Targets
1. SCIENTISTS & PRACTITIONERS
1.1 Need for more interdisciplinary communication & collaboration to inform research & conservationi. Continued involvement of interdisciplinary experts via working group, task force, or consultation on special projects.

ii. Develop communication plan to engage with scientific community (social & biological sciences).

iii. Engage social scientists/other professional experts in research/practice (e.g. human dimensions, conservation psychologists, anthropologists, policy/governance, social marketing, environmental educators, community engagement experts, etc.)

iv. Develop partnerships with NGOs & businesses that can add to interdisciplinary breadth & expand public impact (e.g. watershed conservation, water security/health, other biodiversity groups, sustainable product certification, etc.).

v. Share community & citizen-science based conservation program examples that include interdisciplinary research teams & diverse stakeholders (e.g. NGOs, agencies, businesses, landowners, indigenous groups, policy makers, etc.) through social media, publications, and conference sessions.
i. Identify areas where scientists/ practitioners would benefit from interdisciplinary expertise to help inform conservation planning & programs.

ii. Reach out to specialists/advisors to see if there is interdisciplinary interest or overlap in issues which directly or indirectly affect amphibians & humans (e.g. social science working groups, etc.).
1.2 A need for training and capacity building opportunities for:

a) developing effective public engagement* programs,

b) evaluation strategies to monitor impact.
i. Identify and include related presentations and workshops at global, regional, and local amphibian conference(s).

ii. Continued identification of opportunities to communicate need & transfer skills for public engagement.

iii. Acquire and/or partner for funding to provide opportunities to hold capacity building workshops on relevant & underrepresented topics related to public engagement & evaluation.

iv. Develop training webinars on diverse topics related to planning, implementing and evaluating public engagement programs.

v. Include public engagement discussion panels/working group meeting at amphibian related conferences or symposia.

vi. Continue to use diversity of media for sharing knowledge within our community (e.g. amphibians.org website, social media (FB, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), video, photography, and publications).
i. Conduct a pilot survey for practitioners on current practices and needs related to public engagement & program evaluation.

ii. Add an “Action Planning” section to the ASG/ASA websites and add links to existing resources & papers.

iii. Raise awareness for free online courses & webinars which focus on relevant training content through social media and popular amphibian publications (e.g. Froglog).

iv. Share literature and best practices related to public engagement & program evaluation with scientists/practitioners through social media & popular publications.
1.3 Lack of support & forum for scientists and practitioners to:
a) acquire & retain innovative scientists & practitioners,

b) share knowledge, successes, and challenges.
i. Identify other areas for building capacity (e.g. navigating & understanding global/regional policy/legislation which impacts amphibians). Communicate with other working groups to identify these.

ii. Develop existing communication tools (FrogLog, blog, newsletter and social media) in multiple languages to overcome existing language barriers.

iii. Practitioners should partner with organizations that provide comprehensive leadership training and support to established and emerging conservation leaders.

iv. Dedicate Froglog article(s) to raise awareness in subject areas where we need to build capacity & share resources that are available.

v. FB admins should monitor thematic pages to make sure that posted content stays relevant & retains engaged followers.
a) Monitor engagement & topics
b) Ask members for topics they would like to see
i. Increase availability and accessibility of seed grants to help with general capacity building initiatives.

ii. Develop a list of organizations working towards general capacity building for the amphibian community to promote within our network.

iii. Expand and develop amphibians.org blog to share experiences, successes & challenges.

iv. Increase the number of and diversity of the background of amphibians.org bloggers to stay relevant to target subject areas.

v. Create online Facebook communities for sharing and discussing ideas and research based on predetermined thematic areas.
2. PRIORITY TARGET AUDIENCES
2.1 Identify & communicate with priority target audiences* more strategically at global, regional, and local levels.

(*audiences who have an impact on the success/failure of desired conservation outcomes)
Global/Regional/Local:

i. Strategically link desired conservation outcomes and engagement with target audiences, continue to evaluate & reassess programs.

ii. Conduct focus groups, surveys, literature reviews to identify topics & messaging that resonate with different target audiences.

iii. Work with zoos/aquaria/museums to develop surveys to collect public information to help better inform action based messages for urban/suburban conservation-minded audiences.

iv. Develop media (e.g. short film) etc. that targets audiences for action/behavior change.

v. To better inform programs, work with local stakeholders & target audiences to understand:
- Root conflicts, drivers of decline
- Social norms
- Values, attitudes, beliefs
- Knowledge, skill, resource needs
- Motivators and/or incentives
- Barriers
i. Identify resources and training opportunities for strategically targeting & engaging audiences (e.g. community-based social marketing).

ii. Identify audiences that we should engage more (e.g. product consumers, landowners, businesses, captive breeding community, resource users, etc.).

iii. Convene discussions to identify target audiences for a pilot behavior change/action campaign which links to a driver of amphibian declines.

iv. Identify target audiences for resource development/capacity building (landowners, natural resource managers, etc.).
2.2 Lack of focus on actions/changes in behavior needed to help address root causes of amphibian declines. (i.e. awareness -> action)i. Pilot coordinated programs for targeted audiences to adopt a specific behavior/action. Evaluate, adapt, and repeat.

ii. Continue to highlight ecological, cultural and intrinsic values of amphibians and/or habitats and link to specific actions needed. Make sure we know our target audiences and what incentives/messages motivate them.

iii. Work with zoos/aquaria/museums to develop action-based infographs/media kits that can help inform public interpretation & exhibits.

iv. Identify conservation commerce projects (e.g. cultural crafts, recycled items) which benefit people & wildlife in amphibian hot spot areas that we can promote. Target zoos & museums who may sell these products in their gift shops.

v. Develop amphibian friendly “take action” graphics/resources to be shared through partner networks.

vi. Highlight amphibian friendly communities and programs.

vii. Storytelling through captivating media (photography, video) that demonstrates collective action which benefits amphibians/habitat.
i. Develop lists of specific actions & behavior change needed that links to priority conservation outcomes (see related “identify target audiences”).

ii. Build more diverse partnerships with organizations who focus on other biodiversity or human wellness issues (e.g. sustainable certification programs, other taxonomic groups (birds, inverts), watershed conservation/water security, eco-agriculture, etc.) but which also impact amphibians & habitat.
3. SOCIETAL LEVEL CHANGE “SEED PLANTING”
3.1 More “experiential learning” needed, especially through:
- participation in citizen science
- environmental education
- field experiences with amphibian enthusiasts
i. Coordinated efforts needed to synthesize and communicate findings from citizen science data back to the amphibian community & with those who participate.

ii. Highlight/celebrate volunteers who participate in model citizen science programs.

iii. Develop relationships with national environmental education associations to incorporate amphibian related topics into wetland/water quality or other curricula.

iv. Continue to highlight ecological, cultural and intrinsic value of amphibians and their habitats.

v. Tie environmental education programs to local habitats, watersheds, & bioregions which are more connectable to individuals & communities.

vi. Continue to seek opportunities to share knowledge and passion in local nature based experiences. Partner with new and diverse organizations (e.g. general outdoor recreationists, health organizations, local businesses, church groups, etc.)

vii. Partner with other taxonomic conservation groups (e.g. birds, bats, invertebrates) to include amphibian expertise in local public engagement programs & biological inventories.

viii. Identify and promote opportunities for ecotourism which includes experiences with local herpetofauna.
i. Continue to identify & promote amphibian related citizen science initiatives to families & wildlife enthusiasts.

ii. Share “best practices” for citizen science and other public participation programs.

iii. Coordinate a global day(s) whereby amphibian enthusiasts commit to offer field/nature based experiences for the public. Share activities & reach.

iv. Share examples of how biologists have involved innovative hands-on public participation in their research or conservation activities via peer-review, grey literature, social media, and conference symposia.

v. Develop/implement methods to measure attitudinal/behavourial change
3.2 Lack of engagement with youth who are increasingly disconnected from nature.i. Use amphibians as ambassadors for hands-on nature based experiences & learning.

ii. Identify and develop partnerships with local & global organizations that focus on youth recreation programs, nature engagement, service learning & citizen science.

iii. Long-term collaboration needed between local NGOs and education institutions for accurate & effective lessons about amphibian declines.

iv. Build educator capacity through:
a) workshops/professional development opportunities
b) developed curricula linked to national or local standards
c) service learning projects (e.g. habitat restoration, research, citizen science)
d) provide comprehensive online amphibian resources for educators
e) partnership with zoos, aquaria, parks & museums education & interpretation programs

v. Use Media/technology to engage youth in amphibian conservation, partnering with other biodiversity groups to highlight “uncharismatic” animals & expand our reach.
i. Publish an annual edition of Froglog Jr. to engage with families and youth.

ii. Develop Science Zone on amphibians.org with amphibian education resources. Make sure this is widely communicated to scientists/practitioners to make resources available.

iii. Highlight global amphibian programs & research that engage youth via social media & amphibian publications.

iv. Develop graphics highlighting tangible ways urban youth can take action for amphibians. Distribute through partnership networks.

v. Develop/share experiential learning method best practices.

vi. Develop “teach the teacher”/educator training courses.

vii. Share best practices in regards to educator engagement.

 

Bibliography:

Clayton, S. Litchfield, and E. S. Geller. 2013 Psychological science, conservation, and environmental sustainability. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 11(7) 377-382.

Hesselink, F.J. e.a., Communication, Education and Public Awareness, a toolkit for the Convention on Biological Convention, Montreal 2007.

McKenzie-Mohr, D. 2011. Fostering Sustainable Behavior: An Introduction to Community-Based Social Marketing. 3rd ed. New Society Publishers, Canada.

Miller, J.R. 2005. Biodiversity Conservation and the extinction of experience. Trends in Ecology and Evolution. 20:431-434.

Novacek, M.J. 2008. Engaging the Public in Biodiversity Issues. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 105: 11571-11578.

Shultz, P.W. 2011. Conservation Means Behavior. Conservation Biology 25:1080-1083.

Tools of Engagement: A Toolkit for Engaging People in Conservation:  web4.adudubon.org/educate/toolkit/pdf/the-toolkit.pdf

Wyner, Y., and R. DeSalle. 2010. Taking the conservation biology perspective to secondary school classrooms. Conservation Biology 24:649-654.