Read the report on workshops with urban community representatives to understand barriers, motivations, and strategies for connecting urban audiences with refuges, wildlife, and the outdoors: Barriers and Strategies to Connecting Urban Audiences to Wildlife and Nature

Workshops with community leaders near seven urban refuges revealed how outdoor recreation opportunities benefit urban residents; the barriers to participate in the outdoors; and strategies for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to better connect and engage urban residents. Common themes heard include:

Here’s some of what we’ve heard from conversations with residents in urban areas across the country…

What barriers prevent greater access or enjoyment of outdoor recreation opportunities by urban communities?

  • Feelings of otherness for minorities: uncomfortable being the only minority in the outdoors and not being represented in the cultural and historical dialogue about America’s natural landscapes and conservation
  • Fear for safety, health, and discomfort in the outdoors
  • Negative cultural stigmas about working outdoors

     

“I told my grandmother I was going to be a wildlife biologist and work outdoors. She said, ‘No, no, we worked too hard for you to be outdoors.’ People equate working in an office with upper-level positions. There is still thinking like that among Latinos. It’s a very real barrier... My husband’s dad didn’t think he had a real career because he was outside teaching kids to fish.” (statement from a community workshop participant)

What can be done to promote greater participation in outdoor recreation and use of refuges by urban communities?

  • We can’t just say “come visit the refuge.” Residents that fear the outdoors need more support when being introduced to nature and partnering with trusted community organizations is a good way to provide that support.
  • Urban protected areas are themselves a great strategy for introducing people to nature because they are less removed from the city and therefore less intimidating for some people – we should promote them and make them more accessible!
  • Enhance youth volunteer recruitment so youth can learn about career opportunities in natural resources management and gain valuable work experience. By focusing on career opportunities, refuges can play a role in developing “conservation leaders” for the next generation.

Library

Understanding Urban Audiences; Community workshop results for Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge

Results from a community workshop that help the Service understand how to engage urban audiences.

Understanding Urban Audiences; Community workshop results for Don Edwards San Fancisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Report from a community workshop to help the Service understand how to connect with residents around Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Understanding Urban Audiences; Community workshop results for Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge

A report from a community listening session at Rocky Mountain Arsenal NWR to help the Service understand how to better engage the local community.

Understanding Urban Audiences; Community workshop results for Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge

A report from a community workshop with residents around Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge to help the Service understand how to better engage local communities.

Understanding Urban Audiences; Community workshop results for Arthur R Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge

A report from a community workshop with residents around ARM Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge to help the Service understand how to better engage the community.

Programs

A bison grazing in the foreground with mountains and a city and electrical infrastructure in the background
The Urban Wildlife Conservation Program improves lives by expanding access to green space, education and outdoor recreation for Americans living in and around cities. Program members work to clear social and historical barriers and foster new connections that advance conservation and strengthen...
A bright blue sky obstructed by fluffy white clouds reflected off of a stream shot from inside a kayak
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages an unparalleled network of public lands and waters called the National Wildlife Refuge System. With more than 570 refuges spanning the country, this system protects iconic species and provides some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities on Earth.

Facilities

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