21st Century Wildlife Outreach: Breaking the Mold to Broaden the Mission

ROOM: HCCC, Room 21
As our traditional audience ages and shrinks, wildlife professionals are being challenged to explore new avenues to engage the public in conservation and wildlife recreation. Gone are the days when a full color brochure or social media presence could be seen as new and innovative. And the public that we face today is more diverse than ever before. Remaining relevant in this changing landscape requires new techniques, skills, and technologies. This session will introduce projects exploring ways to navigate this landscape, use traditional media in innovative ways, and explore emerging media and how it can be used to support conservation. Fifteen speakers will discuss projects ranging from television and film to games and contests. Coming from the public sector and private sector and including educators, classically trained wildlife biologists, and one very creative family, these speakers share a passion for ensuring the future of our wildlife and are breaking the mold of traditional wildlife outreach to bring our conservation mission to a broader audience.

8:10AM Thinking Out-Of-The-Box When Building Your Outreach Team
  Kelly Siciliano Carter
When working in the wildlife management arena, we often hear that “the DNR needs to communicate more!” or “the DNR are terrible communicators!” Well⋯ we are working to change that! At the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Division, we heard those comments loud and clear and decided to start investing substantially in communications. A team of 16 staff are part of the Public Outreach and Engagement Section. From an education coordinator, to field-based communication coordinators, to graphic designers, to a social media specialist, to a videographer, to many assistants, and more. We have built a wildlife outreach team like no other state. Just nine years ago, we had one employee (ME) focusing on communications; now, a huge team is devoted to talking about our outcomes, getting customers engaged, and finding new ways to deliver our messages and understand what our customers really want! Come hear how this team is being successful and changing the way we communicate with our customers while doing some crazy out-of-the-box stuff!
8:30AM Field Guides for Everyone
  Kendra Wecker
Being the “Go-To” entity for wildlife information is important to wildlife agencies. But how do we stay vital in this electronic age? Personal contact has tremendous value. We provide colorful, informative field guides on common species to inquisitive folks. Producing both printed and electronic versions have been extremely popular and useful for the public as well as staff. We gather information and photographs from noted experts, assemble them in attractive formats and distribute them for free. Agency branding is consistent and these products yield donations, a more informed public and awareness of the agency. Learn how you too can do this for your agency.
8:50AM Mixing Media and Messages in Wildlife Outreach Is a Bear!
  Katie Keen
Mixing Media and Messages in Wildlife Outreach is a Bear! Presenter: Katie Keen Michigan DNRNew year, same message? Often times, the messages we share may change with the season, new year same old message. What if you could freshen up your strategic message while also reaching out further? Different message! Larger audience! New media! Explore different ways to look at the same old message, find the hook and of course rethink the delivery – the press release isn’t your only option! Learn ways to engage a broader audiences on multiple levels, for your communication strategy to be successful.
9:10AM Ohio’s Wildlife Diversity Conference: 1,000 Strong and Growing!
  Kendra Wecker
Assigned a conference on wildlife diversity that was limping along at 100 people annually, we analyzed our customers needs, wants, available time and compared it to our resources. Developing interesting conference themes, seeking out great speakers and presenting science in a fun and entertaining format has been a recipe for success in Ohio. We annually present a one-day conference that attracts naturalists, teachers, wildlife enthusiasts, environmental engineers, sportsmen and non-traditional educators surpassing our 1,000-person goal in 2017. So how have we managed this? Learn from our strategies and guidelines for setting up your agency for similar success.
9:30AM Mi Birds: Bridging Divides between Consumptive and Nonconsumptive Users
  Holly Vaughn
“MI Birds: Bridging Divides Between Consumptive and Nonconsumptive Users” The DNR now shares an employee with Audubon Great Lakes: the Michigan Bird Conservation Coordinator. This individual oversees a communications program called MI Birds, which is focused on bridging gaps between the hunting and birding communities and increasing understanding of the value of public lands and the need for strong funding of conservation in Michigan. MI Birds began in 2016, with the formation of a steering committee consisting of twelve partner organizations: Ducks Unlimited, Ruffed Grouse Society, Pheasants Forever, National Wild Turkey Federation, The Nature Conservancy, Michigan Audubon, Detroit Audubon, Kalamazoo Nature Center, Michigan State University Extension, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The group helps to develop the messaging communicated by MI Birds. MI Birds’ biggest presence is online: on a Facebook page with over 7,000 followers. The page features real-time information about Michigan’s birds and their migrations, in a fun and engaging way for the public. MI Birds is also publicizing the DNR’s important habitat work statewide by leading tours to key state game areas and other public lands and engaging the public in a conversation with the biologists about what work is being done, what species it benefits, and how conservation is funded. In this presentation, you’ll learn about the successes that this partnership has reached together and the goals that we wish to reach in the future.
09:50AM Break
12:50PM Environmental Visual Communication: the Art and Science of Storytelling
  Josh Feltham
Art and science are not distinctly different. At their core, both art and science are driven by curiosity, observation, and creativity. Environmental visual communication recognizes that we cannot change perspectives and behaviour by simply presenting data. Information is only one of three key elements needed to initiate change. The other two elements are emotion and a clear path. Science works to remove emotion from the equation as it results in bias and subjectivity; however, when the work is done and the message needs to resonate with a broader audience, emotion is the most important factor. Science and research provides the information that can guide us along a specific path but emotion is the stimulus that motivates action and change. Environmental visual communication elicits emotional responses by combining art and science with effective narrative. Join the discussion and contribute to our understanding of the art and science of storytelling.
1:10PM Our Youtube Celebrities Have Scales
  Hannah Schauer
Our wild celebrities know how to grab attention! They have over half a million views on YouTube and are featured in six of the top 15 Michigan Department of Natural Resources videos. In fact, one of them holds the distinction of being the top viewed DNR video. We’ll discuss why these critters warranted their own video series and how these videos directly stemmed from a need expressed by Michiganders. Find out about our experiences trying to go viral on YouTube and some considerations to keep in mind if you’d like to do the same. Who are these scaled celebrities? You’ll just have to join us to find out!
1:30PM Nature-based Preschools – Nurturing the Next Generation of Conservationists
  Bev Walborn
The Nature Preschool movement has recently surged to 250 programs around the country. Cleveland Metroparks Nature Preschool is one of the latest, having opened this fall, providing children the opportunity to learn using nature as the third teacher. These outdoor experiences are giving families even more reasons to get out and explore their local parks as well as nature preserves and wildlife areas. Join us as we explore what nature preschools are, why they are important, and discuss ways you and your parks can connect with this growing population of families searching for ways to further develop their environmental ethic.
1:50PM The City Nature Challenge: Engaging the Public Through Citizen Science
  Ashley Hall; Erica Prange
The City Nature Challenge is an event anyone can take part in. It is a fun and easy way to promote urban nature awareness while simultaneously adding to a global biodiversity database. Started in 2016 by the California Academy of Science and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County for the first-ever National Citizen Science Day, the City Nature Challenge was a bioblitz-style competition between Los Angeles and San Francisco, engaging residents and visitors in documenting nature to better understand our urban biodiversity. Now, it has gone international with over 60 cities represented worldwide. Learn how you can take part!
2:10PM What Happens When Game Management Meets Game Design?
  Karen T. Cleveland
Have a complex ecological concept you need to convey and you’re having a hard time fitting all of the supporting graphs and tables into a brochure? Maybe it’s time to have a little fun with it. Find out how we’re creating and using custom games to help new audiences learn about wildlife, ecology, and conservation from the comfort of their homes. Whether it’s digital games, tabletop games, or schoolyard games, you’ll learn the basic about how to approach a game design project, what you can accomplish with games that other outreach tools can’t do, and how you can create your own custom games for wildlife outreach.
2:30PM Refreshment Break
3:20PM Wildlife Outreach Is Too Important to Be Left to Adults
  Athia, Maia, Jason and Janine Strohm
For the last few years, Two Sisters in the Wild, LLC. has been making educational card games about wildlife. Their games have appeared in National Parks, schools and libraries across the nation. In this presentation they share a part of their story, and offer a few suggestions that may help steer your wildlife education efforts. If you are interested in connecting with today’s youth, this presentation poses a few questions that may help. Two Sisters in the Wild believes the key to connecting with today’s youth is to turn off your projectors, put down the chalk and build awareness by investing time in the things today’s youth voluntarily have in front of them every day.
3:40PM Birds as a Connection to Nearby Nature
  John Cawood
Acquainting young people to nature prepares them to be stewards throughout their lives. The fact that 80% of the United States population lives in urban settings seems to pose a challenge to creating such introductions. Birds, however, can be found everywhere. Birds in my Neighborhood, a volunteer-driven education program in Chicago, seeks to capitalize on the prevalence of birds in all areas, using them as an entré to nature for young people and their families. By sparking an interest in birds, this program invites its participants to see that nature is around all of us – regardless of where we live – and it is our responsibility to steward and protect it.
4:00PM Bringing Wildlife to School: Engaging Students and Teachers on STEAM through Wildlife Programs
  David Wheeler
Bringing Wildlife to School: Engaging Students and Teachers on STEAM through Wildlife Programs As students grow more adept with technology each year, their connection to the natural world around them weakens. Yet it doesn’t have to be one or the other. By using wildlife webcams as a primary learning tool, Conserve Wildlife Foundation (CWF) delivers STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) to students in a unique and compelling way. Watching real-life “reality shows” about families of peregrine falcons, bald eagles, ospreys, and bats empowers students to use STEAM concepts to explore fascinating adaptations like the falcon’s ability to pursue its prey at over 200 mph, making it the fastest animal on earth! Guest speakers like wildlife biologists model careers in STEAM. And hands-on lessons in art, videos and music spark the students’ creativity with sights and sounds of their own inspiration. Captivated by the webcams, wide-eyed students then thrill to encounter the live wildlife brought into the classroom by CWF biologists and rehabilitators, such as birds of prey or reptiles. Yet the pinnacle of the program is the field trip to a state park. In this trip, fifth-graders seine a waterway and encounter creatures and natural systems they could only have imagined. Their senses are fully engaged. Their awakened minds, sharpened by learning about STEAM all year long through the program, are ready to analyze, explore, and celebrate all that they experience. Just as importantly, their teachers and administrators celebrate the value of this interactive standards-based curriculum, as all of it is designed to not only engage the students – but to help teachers meet their own grade-level standards and requirements for teaching.
4:20PM Biologists Meet the Benchmarks: How the Academy of Natural Resources Puts Resource Management in the Classroom.
  Kevin Frailey
The Michigan DNR strives to make the science of wildlife management relevant to our citizenry. In 2008 we created the Academy of Natural Resources (ANR), a one week immersion into resource management and connections to both formal and non-formal education. After ten years, ANR has attracted hundreds of educators from Michigan and surrounding states and created such demand, that in 2017 we added ANR North in the Upper Peninsula. ANR is where biologists make their work relevant and work with educators to find connections to trends in education like NGSS and STEM. Why not start an ANR in your state?
4:40PM Deer, Grouse, Turkey⋯Oh My! A Unique Approach to Investing in Teens as Conservation Leaders
  Michele Kittell
As a biologist, wildlife manager, professor and conservationist – are you concerned about who will be the next in line to carry on your legacy of research, education, field work, advocacy? The Wildlife Leadership Academy, in its 12th year, will give you hope. The Academy experience begins with Conservation Ambassador training for high school students, which includes attending rigorous summer field schools taught by leading natural resource professionals that focus on wildlife/fisheries conservation, as well as leadership skills development. Equipped with knowledge and skills, through the next year, students serve as Conservation Ambassadors in their communities, giving back through education, service, media engagement, the creative arts and outdoor mentorship. As students grow with the Academy, they explore educational and career possibilities via professional conferences and college visit days, gain work experience via our summer field schools, and engage in professional development through our Academy Alumni Network. The Wildlife Leadership Academy is invested in creating a lifelong experience for this next generation of conservation leaders – this commitment impacts not only the students served by providing personal and professional development but the communities they engage with as they take action on behalf of our natural resources.

Organizers: Karen Cleveland, Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division, Lansing, MI
Supported by: Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division

Location: Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland Date: October 9, 2018 Time: 8:10 am - 5:00 pm