Nature Center Issues & Solutions: A roundtable of ideas & answers
Hosted Thursday, November 20, 2014
An informative and collaborative roundtable discussion about issues, trends, and problem solving at nature centers and visitor centers.
Issue 1 How to make higher ups see the value of your Park, Center, or Department's work? Solutions: Get public input and support and make sure they are outspoken. Get them and your concerns in front of your council members, board, or supervisor. Document everything that you do and make regular reports so your work gets seen. Have a plan to show the educational impact (possibly increased test scores) of your program. Have a long range plan that involves pre/post test scores and follow up visits to schools. Connect what you do to the economic impact it has on the area. Find data from the Trust for Public Lands. Visit the Kansas Tourism websitefor reports on theeconomic impactof programs or to see how to gather a Wildlife and Parks Consumer Profile.
Issue 2 How to make it work when you now must focus on generating revenue or must turn around an unsustainable Park model Solutions: 1. Tell them only what you are able to do with the limited money they are giving you. You can only do what you can with what you've got. 2. Make a hard choice about possibly closing a Park or Nature Center. This may get the public involved to advocate for you. 3. Show them your site is more than just a building. Show that you need the staff there to provide an experience for visitors. 4. Document everything you tell the higher ups about what you can or can't do, what plans you have, meetings you have been in...everything. 5. Get people involved to advocate for you who are not part of the government or your organization. Reach out and establish partnerships in the community.
Issue 3 How to keep your issues and needs a priority when you get a new or busier supervisor. Solutions: Have a Master plan for resources or education or interpretation. Make sure the supervisor and those above that person visit your site and know something about it. Ask them to volunteer at an event to see what you do. Establish a friends group who can advocate for you. Do some sort of public event in front of the city council, supervisor board, or mayor (ideas include bringing in volunteers, teens, or students to recognize them, getting on the board's agenda to talk about a specific program you do, bring in live animals, show pictures from an event). Make friends with the Marketing Department to help get the word out about what you do Get into the Department newsletter or weekly bulletin so your information is in people's minds.