Lauren Land, Sustainability Coordinator for the Louisiana Sea Grant College Program presented “Putting Together a Community Outreach Plan” to our environmental communication class on Tuesday, November 18, 2014.
Land began with an overview of the National Sea Grant College Program and the Louisiana Sea Grant. Every coastal and Great Lakes state has a sea grant program, housed at each state’s flagship university.
The Louisiana Sea Grant College program works to promote stewardship of the state’s coastal resources through a combination of research, education and outreach. The mission or focus is divided into four main areas: sustainable fishers and aquaculture, education and workforce development, healthy coastal ecosystems, resilient communities and economies. Land does a lot of her work in resilient communities and economies.
The outreach component is called extension: a two way conversation with people living in coastal environments. Agents live in coastal parishes where they serve, pictured below.
“This is valuable because at the university we can talk to people in the field to figure out main issues. Living in the coastal environment guides the cycle,” said Land. “When your talking about communication or developing an outreach plan its important to know people who are familiar with the community. They can give you tips on understanding your target audience.”
The fundamentals of extension are whatever programs or activities are involved. These are intentional and have a purpose. Most of the agents in the field have an advisory committee to help plan activities and guide direction for work.
SeaGrant is within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. To meet the growing need among NOAA education and extension professionals for more methodical evaluation of how to evaluate impact of work, the ADDIE model was developed.
Assessment consists of planning, data collection and data analysis and reporting. When planning, decide what issue you are trying to adjust and follow the ADDIE model to understand who your audience is.
Then you can move into the design phase and work on designing your project over a certain time frame.
“The logic model is a road map to help you do this,” said Land.
For the Design section of the ADDIE model, follow the Project Logic Model, pictured above. The example shown in class followed this order:
resources –> activities –> outputs –> short-term outcomes –> mid-term outcomes –> long term outcomes
Land explained the project model as most effective if you move through it backwards.
When describing the different levels of outcomes, Land said:
“Long-term outcomes can be behavior change such as local policy. Mid-term outcomes are related to actions – your target audience is behaving differently but you don’t quite see the results yet. Short-term: you’ve given people the knowledge they need to do something differently.”
Outputs are actual products you need to produce or develop to reach the short-term outcomes.
Land also encouraged writing SMART objectives.
Think: What actions will the audience be able to accomplish after the project?
In the Development Phase, tools to assist with meetings and workshops are created. These include:
- activity objective matrix: instructional techniques, training materials
- methods variety scale: active & passive learning activities
- process agendas: clarifies roles, responsibilities
Then you implement the project and evaluate effectiveness to adjust and improve in the future.
An example of how Land used the model in a real-life situation:
- First she defined the problem: There are vessels on the ground after hurricanes.
- Audiences involved include FEMA, United States Coast Guard, and contractors. Their primary mission is to clean the waterways. There is a need for publicly owned and operated waterfront property. 70 percent of the coastal zone is privately owned. This huge lack of public land leads to limited space to put stranded vessels when trying to clear waterways. Also, when vessels land on private property during storms, no one can retrieve them.
- Who are the people involved: federal and state agencies, landowners and boat owners
- Proposed: evaluate waterway capacity near Vermillion Bay to accommodate seafaring vessels during storms, created a safe harbor master plan
- To do this, she needed to understand actions of commercial fisherman. The answer: with survey questions!
- Then work to identify and contact stakeholders
- Finally: building the report
Land then emphasized these Take Home Messages:
- Communication and framing: know your audience
- Reaching out to stakeholders: make the call
- Building alliances: facilitate the conversation
- Patience and persistence
Following her presentation, we had a Question & Answer Session:
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Married & with children (laughs). That’s a really good question because I think there are a lot of advantages working at the university and I love the academic world. There is a lot of vibrance being on campus. I’d like to stay with SeaGrant and have a leadership position or go into government and get into policy.
How do you use the model?
I’ve done this in workshops where we have the logic model blown up and have post-it notes that you can move around. Starting at the end with long-term outcomes, you can write out what you think that is and put the post-it note there. As you move backwards, things might need to be moved around. A good check on the logic model is if you can read backwards then move forward with if/then statements to see if it makes sense. You’ll know if it is not logical if it doesn’t make sense and is missing something.
What kind of data do you use? Primary, secondary, generate own? Use existing?
For every project the first thing I’ll do is the secondary source research: data reports, existing data, papers, agency websites, books and then also create data by seeking out primary data to see if it existed or if needed to be created. I often realize data doesn’t exist so we hav eto figure out how to get it and put it together.
How did you find the fisherman you gave surveys to and gave them the surveys?
We knew we were targeting a specific geographic area of the coast. One of my co-workers who works in that area, she knows all of the docks where fishermen come in and sell catch. I called her and said I need to know how many surveys to put together. She would say there are five docks and dock number one has 25-30 boats, dock number two has 50 boats, etc. She and I went to each dock together for her to translate and interpret. We were able to tell dock owners what we were doing. We would say can you work with your fisherman to fill out this survey and would leave copies with pencils. The dock owners would work with the fishermen and help them fill it out. Then my colleague did a follow up with each dock to make sure the most amount of surveys were completed. It was very proactive with incentives to participate. Sometimes it can be hard to get responses.
As far as speaking with authority do you have suggestions, especially as we are undergraduate students?
I think over time the more you do it, the more comfortable you feel with it. I remember the first few times, I would resend emails because I was nervous to call. I think in today’s day and age with fast communication, people really appreciate a phone call. Always identify yourself as with the university and what you are working on. If you can keep your head together and remember why you are talking to that person, a lot of the times that person will appreciate that connection. Or I will ask in an email when is a good time I can reach you. With increased communication, people are always on their email but not necessarily by a computer or phone or in a meeting.