Having completed much of their foundational work and research, the Conserving the Future implementation teams this summer are beginning to put some of their products out for public input. Those products, the teams work plans and more are available at AmericasWildlife.org.
Working with Spectrum Communications, a marketing/public relations consultant, the Communications implementation team soon will post its draft strategic communications plan. The final plan is due in April 2013. To comment on the draft,
people can join the social network at AmericasWildlife.org and go to the Communications team group to take part in a virtual conversationmuch like the backandforth that helped develop the Conserving the Future vision.
The draft communications plan proposes that the National Wildlife Refuge System expand its reach first by meeting Americans on their own turfwhether thats a shopping mall, sports arena, community center or local libraryand then fostering a tsunami of support by creating buzz online and distinctive programs at wildlife refuges. Corporate and nonprofit partnerships are key elements.
Among the Communications teams goals is doubling the number of people who encounter refugeson the ground and virtually. Today, more than 45 million people visit refuges annually, and the Refuge System Web site draws about 200,000 visitors a month. The plan partially grew out of stakeholder interviews and online listening that identified the Refuge Systems reach and barriers to attracting diverse audiences.
The Urban Wildlife Refuge Initiative implementation team held three days of meetings in late June to discuss urban initiatives and potential collaborative opportunities with key conservation partners. The team, which already has superimposed a map of the Refuge System on a map of U.S. population centers, now is identifying elements of excellence that make existing urban refuges successful. The team hopes to convene an urban refuge summit in 2013, inviting about 100 refuge staff and partners.
About 80 percent of Americans live in urban areas, but relatively few of the nations 556 wildlife refuges are located there.
The Refuge System now spans the continent and reaches across oceans, providing safe homes for our nations fish, wildlife and plants, says the Conserving the Future document. But despite our broad geographic reach, we face challenges in connecting with all Americans. We struggle to remain relevant to urban citizens who have competing priorities and few outside experiences; we strain to find ways to connect with young Americans who are technologically fluent but deficient in nature experiences …
In other realms, the Interpretation and Environmental Education implementation team has made creation of an ambassadors program a priority, the Planning team is surveying refuge staff about how to improve and best implement comprehensive conservation plans (CCPs), and the Community Partnerships implementation team is surveying nearly 100 refuge managers to identify best practices for attracting and managing volunteers, Friends and partners. The Community Partnerships team plans to develop an online tool to help management, and it seeks to improve the Web presence for volunteers, Friends and partners.
To comment on proposed products and approaches, join the social network at AmericasWildlife.org and watch the conservation conversation flow. In addition to team work plans and Facebook/Twitter feeds, the Web site now features the Refuge System on Pinterestone of the newest popular social networkstoo.