WLI North America Webinar
We held the first WLI Webinar on the 29th of October, aimed at all those working in or with wetland centres, delivering education and engagement, across Canada and the US. The Webinar was divided into three distinct parts, and you can description and presentations below from each session. The first session gave some introduction to WLI and Ramsar, and some excellent case studies of wetland centres that belong to the network. The second looked at some of the challenges to delivering wetland education messages, and how we evaluate our effectiveness at doing this. The third covered how we can develop our wetland WLI network over the coming years. See below for more details, or see this brief report on the outcomes of the webinar, and this attendance list of all those that registered. You can see recordings of the presentations and discussion at the ASWM website. All-in-all it was a really useful session and one that we will repeat covering different topics in North America and other WLI Regions.
Wetland centers and WLI N America
Background to wetland visitor centres and WLI, 1pm - 2.30pm
Wetland Link International North America.
Introduction to Wetland Link International (WLI), Chris Rostron. Wetland centers can be defined as any initiative where education and engagement activities are carried out at a wetland site. This could be a regular community group meeting, a school with an adjacent wetland, or a purpose built visitor center running activities at a wetland. WLI acts as a support network for those delivering this type of work, through regular updates and contact, a website with contact details and resources, and regional working groups that help to plan work. WLI also supports the Ramsar convention's delivery of its CEPA (communication, education, participation and awareness) programme, working closely with the secretariat's staff. Download the PDF of the presentation here.
Contact: Chris Rostron, head of WLI, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, UK.
The Ramsar Convention's CEPA programme
Sandra Hails, head of Ramsar's CEPA programme, has worked at Ramsar for over 10 years, and is responsible for the delivery of education and engagement activities for the convention. The Ramsar convention was signed in 1971, and covers three key areas: designation of Ramsar sites; sharing of best practice in wetland management; and promoting the principle of wise use of wetlands. The CEPA programme has a number of CEPA focal points at government and NGO's nationally, encourages countries to deliver CEPA action plans, and provides tools to support effective engagement at local level. You can find her presentation here, around 2Mb.
The International Crane Foundation, US
Cully works as the ‘Interpretive Programs Manager’ at ICF within the Communications and Education Department. He has a B.S in Outdoor Education (Natural History/Interpretation Concentration) and a minor in Environmental Education from Northland College (Ashland, WI). He currently supervises and manages the interpretive programs at ICF, including public/private tours, school field trips, outreach events/programs, exhibitions, and interpretive signage/messaging.
For over four decades, the International Crane Foundation (ICF), a non-profit conservation organization located in Baraboo, Wisconsin, has worked worldwide to conserve cranes and the ecosystems, watersheds, and flyways on which they depend. Working in over 35 countries on 4 continents, ICF is dedicated to providing experience, knowledge, and inspiration to involve people in resolving threats to these ecosystems. Cully explains the role of the centre in raising awareness of the importance of international wetland and bird conservation. ICF has actively been involved in national and international wetland conservation, watershed research, and educational programming. ICF are deeply engaged with informal science pedagogy and techniques — hosting between 4,000 and 5,000 students each year - reaching thousands more students through school visits, curriculum development, and other outreach efforts across the United States and abroad.
Oak Hammock Marsh, Manitoba, Canada
Biography: Nathalie Bays is the Manager of Operations at the award-winning Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre in Manitoba, Canada. Originally from the province of Quebec, she holds a BSC in Wildlife and an MSc in Natural Resource Sciences. She worked as the Education Coordinator for 12 years at the Interpretive Centre and has been the Manager for the past two.The Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre is an award-winning wetland education facility located north of Winnipeg. Its mission is to "Connect people with wetlands". A joint partnership of Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Province of Manitoba, it is located on a provincial Wildlife Management Area which hosts over 150,000 visitors per year. The Centre opened to the public in 1993 and is housed within the National Headquaters of Ducks Unlimited Canada.
The Interpretive Centre focuses on wetland education to both youth and public. During the winter, the Centre brings its educational programming to schools across 3 provinces with the "Wetland Ecovan" traveling educational program. Close to 50,000 environmental educational programs are delivered both on and offsite to students of all ages. This presentation will focus on how partnerships are key to the sustainability of the Centre, you can dowload it here, around 2Mb.
Environmental Concern, US
Suzanne Pittenger Slear. Environmental concern was set up in 1972 focussing on programmes ranging from wetland restoration, habitat creation and wetland plant nurseries, raising over a million wetland plants every year, and restoring over 1000 acres of wetlands and 35m of shorline since their inception. In the last 25 years they have delivered local education and engagement work, including running session with young poeple and providing training for teachers, as well as courses for adults on wetland plan ID, soil ID, habitat management and many more.
Their publication 'the Wonders of Wetlands' has been a popular tool for teachers over several years, and over 100 schoolyard projets have been delivered, giving kids in urban areas access to their own small created wetlands. The basic approach is to get people in contact with wetlands - the muddier the better! See Suzanne's presentation here.
Kris Scopinich, Massachusetts Audubon, US
Kris Scopinich is Education Director at Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary, Lincoln, MA, where she manages the educational programs both at the sanctuary and off-site in local communities. Kris teaches science education courses teachers and works to develop field science opportunities for students. She and her staff work with over 800 schools as well as overseeing multiple community environmental education projects including: Lowell Leaders in Stewardship; the Digital Environmental Education Project; and the RiverSchools Network.
Her interest is in developing learning environments that encourage people to explore their connection to the environment as well as the role they can play in its conservation. Ms. Scopinich is a member of the Secretaries’ Advisory Group on Environmental Education. She sits on the board of Grassroots Wildlife Conservation, Magic Garden Preschool, and the Ripley Playscape. You can dowload her presentation here, around 4Mb.
How we can we better engage target audiences towards taking conservation actions? 2.45pm - 4.15pm
How do we know that the activities we run are having an impact? The discussion will take place in two parts: the challenges we face in communicating with our wide and varied audiences; and how we evaluate whether our work is having a practical impact on wetland conservation.Wetland centers needs to cater for a diverse audience, ranging from pre-school groups, families, formal learning with high schools and colleges, to individuals visiting as part of a tourist experience. We want all of our visitors to go away having had a good time, but also having learnt something about conservation. Something that will change how they live their lives to have a positive impact on wetlands and their wildlife.
- How can we target our visitors to give them the right information at the right level?
- What to do visitors want or expect from our centres?
- How do we know when we are overloading them with information, or when we are missing opportunities to communicate?
- What tools do we use to assess what our visitors have learnt?
Developing the network
The role of WLI North America – Moving Forward, 4.30pm to 6.15pm
WLI is a global network of wetland centers, and we are keen to develop the 'regional' network in Canada and the US. We already have a core group of people that meet regularly, and we know that there are lot more wetland centers out there that are not yet members of the network. This session will ask how we can develop the network of wetland visitor centre in North America?
- What do wetland centers need from such a network?
- What networks / organisations already exist that have wetland centers as their members?
- What activities and projects would you like to be part of, working alongside other wetland centres in the region?
- What is the best way to communicate between wetland centers?