About Me

This blog is primarily geared toward staff at the zoos, aquariums, museums (ZAMs), and other conservation education organizations that are part of our growing global network. We aim to provide you with cutting edge, challenging, and creative information, ideas, and tools to become as effective as possible at communicating about and for conservation with your visitors and the public.

See our ongoing communications research, or join our growing network, at The Ocean Project's website.

March 29, 2011

What can we learn from the latest Six Americas reports?

The recently released “Knowledge of Climate Change Among Visitors to Science and Technology Museums” report is reinvigorating the conversation about communicating climate change to the public. It corroborates The Ocean Project’s market research finding that ZAM (Zoo, Aquarium, and Museum) visitors are more likely to be concerned about climate change and express a willingness to act on behalf of conservation. ZAMs, if not already convinced by an earlier collaboration “Why Zoos and Aquariums Matter” that TOP was involved with, should now realize that the public trusts them (more than any other organization), and look to them for guidance on what to do to aid conservation efforts. 

Both Six Americas and The Ocean Project findings reveal that guidance is critical given the significant misconceptions among the public. For example, the Six Americas report found that a third of the nation thinks that “stopping rockets from punching holes in the ozone layer (has a lot/some impact on reducing) global warming." Despite low scientific/ocean/climate literacy, however, we should not despair. 

Six Americas also found that while information may “often (be) a necessary precursor of effective action”, action has been shown to be just as effective in advancing knowledgeAnd 68% of the US population considers themselves at the very least as “Cautious” (“believe global warming is a problem, but not urgent, and are unsure whether it is human caused”) if not “Concerned” or “Alarmed”. Within this, TOP research has revealed that teens and tweens, as well as ESL households are more likely to take action on behalf of the environment.

March 8, 2011

Reaching Millennials: Youth and the Internet

Mom and Dad might set the curfew, but who has the most influence when it comes to environmental information in most homes? Research by The Ocean Project and others has shown that parents consider their teens and tweens to be the most knowledgeable and environmentally conscious members of the family.

Young people wield a great deal of control over environmental actions taken in most households, but their influence doesn’t stop there. Studies show that young people know and care more about ocean, climate change and other related issues and are more willing to take action on these issues than adults. They have the free time, passion, and information to make lasting change.

The two-year theme for World Oceans Day 2011 and 2012 focuses on Youth: the Next Wave for Change. Connecting with youth across a generational divide, however, can be difficult for some organizations. Below, we’ve gathered some of the best online resources for reaching out to and mobilizing this promising and action-ready group of people. To see a full list of our strategies for reaching youth, click here.

Reaching Youth over the Internet
Young people are using the internet more than ever, particularly for connecting with their peers through sites like Facebook. 73% of teens online have profiles on a social networking site.

An ongoing study by Youth & Participatory Politics indicates that even “extracurricular” (not explicitly academic or action-oriented) internet fosters later civic and political engagement in youth. Here are some great toolkits and whitepapers we’ve collected to help you utilize this exciting avenue of communication with young people.
·  The Center for Communication & Civic Engagement Inventory of Online Youth Civic Engagement Resources
A guide for the wide range of online projects dedicated to youth engagement for civic practitioners and scholars.
·  Civic Life Online: Learning How Digital Media Can Engage Youth — A MacArthur Study

This study investigates the participatory aspects of online digital media through case studies, discusses the connection between individual expression and public opinion, and outlines exercises for developing a public voice through online mediums. 
·  Hershey|Cause online guide outreach tools

A basic but informative toolkit summarizing the pros and cons of different internet outreach tools and how they may assist your organization. 

If your organization wants to make lasting change through action, young people are a group you won’t regret reaching out to. The effort it takes to get young people involved will be more than repaid by the drive and energy they bring with them to climate and ocean conservation.