As a member of the scientific and education community, you can be an effective resource for communicating the importance of biological resources in a credible and persuasive manner. The materials included in this packet provide you with the necessary tools to convey the connection between people's everyday lives and the ecosystem services upon which they depend. But where do you find an audience? What sections of the public should you target so that your message carries the most weight? In other words, how do you get started?

Listed below are some ideas for locating audiences and identifying key groups to focus on so that your message has the greatest impact. This is just a sample of the possible venues. Let your imagination be your guide!

Media
The media's goal of keeping the public informed and their capacity to reach significant portions of that public makes them a potentially powerful ally. Monitor your local media for news and issues pertinent to ecosystem services. Not all news stories will jump out at you as being relevant to the issue (e.g. "Cranberry Crop Suffers from Native Bee Shortage"). Look deeper into stories and think about potential long-term ramifications. A news story covering a proposed housing development, for example, may involve the filling-in of wetlands. You may also be interested to know that the 'letters-to-the-editor' page is the most read section in a newspaper.

By closely observing the media, you may be able to take advantage of opportunities to find audiences. Here are some suggestions:
Identify the key players in a relevant story. These people and the organizations that they are associated with are good audiences.
Identify the reporters who consistently write about environmental and scientific issues. Invite them to lunch and establish yourself as a reliable source of information.
Capitalize on the "letters-to-the-editor" page. Write your own letter or look for letters by others that may stimulate a response from you.
Give a presentation to your local newspaper's editorial board. You can offer to write an op-ed or encourage them to write about the issue themselves.
Use your local newspaper to keep informed of important public meetings or community gatherings where you may be able to speak about ecosystem services.
Take advantage of your University media services. They are often looking for interesting stories that relate to campus research.





Policy Makers
Whether at the local, state or federal level, the people who create legislation and make public policy decisions can have an enormous impact on many ecosystem services. Often, these people may not even be aware of the full implications of their decisions. Consequently, policy makers should be a key component of your communication efforts. Scientists, in particular, are likely to be respected in policy arenas and their voices can carry a lot of weight. You can use the policy sections of the packet to reference specific policies and legislation in your presentation. You may also need to identify local policies and legislation. Keep in mind that not all legislation that can affect ecosystem services is evident at first. Appropriation bills, for example, that block funding or include hidden riders, can also have a detrimental impact.

Here are a few ideas for focusing on policy makers:
Write a letter to your state and federal legislative representatives highlighting the importance of ecosystem services to people's everyday lives. Request a meeting with him/her or with a staff member to discuss how their decisions can affect these services.
Many different state agencies — water commissions, development agencies, environmental conservation departments — make important decisions concerning ecosystems services. Many policy decisions by these agencies are open to public debate at local hearings. Attend relevant public hearings and stress the importance of ecosystem services.
Local planning and zoning boards play a significant role in land development permitting. Contact your local planning board and request to make a presentation at a future meeting.


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General Education/Public Presentation
Public polling suggests that the loss of our world's biological resources is not a pressing issue with the informed public. Therefore, helping the public understand the importance of ecosystem services is essential. Take advantage of the many venues in your local area to communicate with the public. Here are some examples of potential audiences:
Guest lecture at college class
Local elementary or secondary school
Libraries, town halls
Religious groups
Youth clubs such as local Boy/Girl Scouts or 4-H clubs
Horticulture and Botany Clubs, community garden groups, and plant/garden shops
Your Chamber of Commerce
Local trade associations (cattle ranchers, fruit growers, or loggers)
Museums, nature and visitor centers, zoos
Outdoor recreation groups (fishing clubs, hiking clubs)
Local environmental organizations (Sierra Club, Audubon)


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For More Information
The "Communicating with (Legislative Policy Makers, Media, Public)" series included in the tool kits provide more in-depth information for effective interaction with specific audiences.

ESA staff have expertise in interacting with media, policy makers, and the general public, and may be able to provide assistance. Contact ESA Headquarters at esahq@esa.org for more information.

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