Nature Center Issues & Solutions: A roundtable of ideas & answers
Hosted November 2015
An informative and collaborative roundtable discussion about issues, trends, and problem solving at nature centers and visitor centers.
Issue 1 How can you make the community aware of what your site offers? OR Answering the statement: "We didn't know you were here." Solutions: If you have a campground or other visitor gathering spot, go rove in that area. Use color on your signs to advertise your site and programs. Think of other things to do to create a focal point that brings people to your door. Do a series of open house events for free and invite all the close community and businesses. Think of simple ideas, such as setting up an easel highlighting programs, how to use digital media, get with the local paper to write articles, create or get on a local calendar. Partner with schools to put signs at their locations.
Issue 2 How can you motivate your staff, both the low-paid seasonal and the veteran staff? Solutions: Meet with staff to discuss where they would be in 5 years to understand where they want to be. Say No and teach your staff to say No also. Meet with staff to ask for everyone's opinion of the needs of the site. From this create an operating plan using staff's help and input to create buy-in from them. This can help you also identify what you are not going to do and your markets. Think of creative rewards. Have staff meetings in unique places and make sure to have a system for repeat meetings.
Issue 3 How can you educate the community about the importance of natural resource management at your site? Solutions: Work with local groups to send information to their members and generate ideas on how to get the word out. Volunteers can come from these groups to stand near work areas to explain to users what is happening. Members of these groups can spread the management information by word of mouth too. Use hard data that shows who supports you. For example, 60% of your neighbors support our efforts. Indicate what scientists say about the need for and benefit of your resource management efforts.