This is part II in our series of posts about World Oceans Day events at zoos, aquariums, museums, and other visitor-serving organizations. Thanks to Lindzy Bivings of California Academy of Sciences for her insight and time editing this post.
One of our partners provides a great example of a daring – but informed – charge into making “asks.” California Academy of Sciences’ Institute on Conservation Education & Sustainability (ICES) program, led by Lindzy Bivings, has taken an exciting approach to experimenting with developing and deploying conservation asks.
ICES recently completed a 12-week pilot of their professional learning program, which is exploratory and collaborative. Educators at the facility focused on learning what they could from the literature on best practices in the field, then worked together to develop conservation education goals, and entered a rapid prototyping process where they quickly evaluated and altered on-the-ground tactics in response to interactions with guests. By working together, and being undeterred by the lack of a concrete framework, the participants made some great discoveries about what contributes to an effective ask.
Here are some tips shared by Lindzy Bivings which may assist you in making your own asks:
1. Do separate formative assessments to get a sense of visitors’ current knowledge and engagement. This will help identify what the visitors already know about an issue, and what they perceive as barriers and benefits to an action.
2. One-on-one or small group asks work best. A one-size-fits-all approach often doesn’t work, so have a few ways for people to quickly take action few asks up your sleeves so you can customize the solution as much as possible.
3.) Focus special events and asks on specific populations. Lindzy says: “For example, if we’re working with residents from San Francisco, we very rarely talk about plastic bag issues, because we have a plastic bag ban in the city. Likewise, if its folks from our Bayview District, we don’t spend too much time on how to use the city’s composting system because the housing projects in that area don’t get composting bins.”
4.) Allow visitors to participate in developing the ask, and making the commitment that’s right for their level of engagement/ability. When visitors partially persuade themselves, they are more likely to follow through. The ICES program was fairly large, about 20 educators participated in their pilot program, but the lessons they’ve learned are also applicable on a smaller scale. By treating making asks as an experimental learning process, institutions can begin a low-investment exploration into making high-impact asks in the future.
5.) Use cardboard and duct tape. Don’t be a perfectionist at first. There’s nothing more disappointing than spending hours upon hours on something only to discover that it doesn’t work. Exhibit developers know this, and so should educators. For help, check out Office Supply Ninja.
This is the first in our series of posts about World Oceans Day events at zoos, aquariums, museums, and other visitor-serving organizations.
There has been a trend in amongst zoos, aquariums, museums and other visitor-serving organizations with more institutions than ever making conservation asks of their guests. Aquariums in particular are leading the charge, but these “asks” can be tough to make.
“We always wrestle with an “action” taken by a visitor. Even though someone says they will do something does not mean they actually will. There hasn’t really been an effective method yet created for evaluating guest action without conducting pre and post surveys over several years.”
-Melody Wood, San Antonio Zoo
A “conservation ask” or “action recommendation” is something that a person can do in their everyday life to contribute to environmental protection or conservation. As organizations that focus on animals, zoos and aquariums, in particular, can engage their visitors in environmental protection or conservation. This focus on motivating visitors to take personal action is increasingly a core goal at zoos and aquariums. But how can we encourage more zoos and aquariums to make personal action recommendations?
The opportunity is there: visitor desire to take action to support conservation is activated by close contact with wildlife in an exciting zoo or aquarium setting. Research by The Ocean Project shows that visitors want recommendations for how they personally can take environmentally-friendly action to protect animals. In fact, visitors view getting this information as an integral part of a good visit!
Special events such as Earth Day and World Oceans Day provide perfect occasions to provide visitors with ways to help make a difference. Some zoos and aquariums, as well as other visitor serving organizations find this daunting. In my discussions with AZA educators, I hear often that many do not make a “conservation ask” of their visitors due to barriers such as lack of staff time – but another big deterrent is the lack of existing framework for ask development and evaluation.
So how do we navigate this space: where visitors want recommendations for how they can act to help the animals and the environment, but we don’t necessarily have a framework in place to develop and evaluate these “asks”? One option we encourage you to take is just dive in! In the next two installments of this series, we’ll take a look at how some partners in The Ocean Project network are making “asks” right now, and give you some concrete tips for making similar asks at your own institution.
A key aim of this series is to share knowledge with the community and to hear back from you about your own experiences, and how we can best help you. This is the beginning of a conversation – not the end! I encourage you to reply to this post, either by leaving a comment or sending me an email.
Stay tuned for Part II of this series next week.
Every Earth Day, people around the world make an effort to raise awareness for the environmental issues facing our planet. The vast majority of these events and actions are held on the ground – dry land covers just 30% of the planet, but many of us spend almost 100% of our time living on it. This Earth Day we ask you to consider the ocean, our planet’s unsung hero.
The ocean is the origin of life and its greatest champion. It covers 71% of our blue planet’s surface, and contains 99% of the habitat for all living creatures on Earth. One mouthful of ocean water can contain millions of bacterial cells, hundreds of thousands of phytoplankton and tens of thousands of zooplankton. Its inhabitants are world record holders: its Great Barrier Reef is the largest living structure on Earth; its blue whale is bigger than any dinosaur that ever walked on land.
Humans have explored less than 10% of the ocean; yet we use it to conduct 90% of our international trade and 50% of our communications. Unfortunately, 80% of marine pollution comes from human terrestrial activities. Research by The Ocean Project has found that almost half of Americans (~45%) believe ”what I do in my life doesn’t impact ocean health much at all.” Isn’t it time we give ocean conservation the recognition it deserves, and take responsibility for how our actions affect its health for future generations?
The ocean has always had a special place in our hearts, since the days of the first sailors it has been loved for its beauty and feared for its mystery and power. For many it seems so vast and eternal—how could humans possibly affect it? Unfortunately, this has resulted in an ocean which has been mistreated and public which doesn’t know it needs to be protected.
Increasingly, scientists and others are recognizing that our world’s ocean faces dire threats: from climate change and ocean acidification, to massive overfishing and habitat destruction from poor fishing practices, to pollution, including plastics, nutrients, and much more. One chilling report predicts the possible collapse of the global ocean food web by 2050 if present unsustainable impacts continue.
It is clear that the ocean’s future depends on a community which takes action for its protection. Take your ocean action beyond Earth Day and join us in highlighting the ocean in all its glory – celebrate World Oceans Day on June 8th.
For nine years we’ve been working to grow a movement dedicated to making a commitment to the ocean widespread through World Oceans Day; and the celebration is bigger than ever! This day of celebration and action is driven by people like you, who helped us convince the United Nations to officially recognize World Oceans Day as June 8th each year in 2008.
World Oceans Day is an awesome opportunity to not only raise awareness of the threats facing the ocean, but to take action to address those threats. You can learn more about how to plan your own event at http://WorldOceansDay.org/ideas.
Our partner One World One Ocean is again holding a great video contest for young filmmakers!
Invite your student groups, members or fans between the ages of 12-18 to enter the World Oceans Day Video Contest and tell us in a 60-second or less video what the ocean means to them.
This is a chance for teens to channel their creativity. We welcome humorous videos, music videos, and videos with a conservation message.
Awards will be given in the following categories:
How to Submit a Video
To our website to receive information and to submit a video: http://www.oneworldoneocean.com/get-involved/wod_vc_signup
Good news: we’ve posted the new 2013 Activity Kit! There’s a lot in the kit this year:
If you want to download the entire kit, including the Dr. Seuss materials, you should send us an email and we’ll give you the password. Note that your organization must be a partner of The Ocean Project. Not a partner? Sign up now – free and easy! Click here to join. Sorry, we can’t distribute the Dr. Seuss materials to individuals.
Not sure if you’re a partner? Click here to search on our Partner Map.
Don’t want to become a partner? That’s fine too, you can download these other activities!
Deadline to order: April 15th
Check out cool Dr. Seuss and World Oceans Day merch you can sell at your institutions and events. Note that different items may have separate contacts, minimum purchase orders, etc. The deadline to order and receive your merch is April 15th.
Click here to download the Catalog
This zip file has all of the AZA educator activities, enjoy!
PLUS: We’re partnering with Rubio’s this year to raise money for World Oceans Day and add excitement to your event!
Would you like a Rubio’s tasting at your institution, or vouchers for your visitors to get a free reusable bag? Check to see if there’s a Rubio’s near you (CA, UT, CO, AZ) and contact us for more info.
Thanks for being a part of World Oceans Day, and feel free to contact us with any comments or questions.
We are pleased to announce we will again be providing FREE downloads of Dr. Seuss materials for World Oceans Day, thanks to the partnership between The Ocean Project, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and Random House Children’s Books.
The Dr. Seuss World Oceans Day Kit includes:
If you’d like to download a copy of the new 2013 Dr. Seuss World Oceans Day Kit, please sign up here. By filling out this form you are acknowledging that you are a partner of The Ocean Project. Not a partner? Sign up now – free and easy! Click here to join.
Not sure if you’re a partner? Click here to search on our Partner Map.
In a few weeks, we will be sending everyone who signed up a password so they can download the kit. Please make sure you can receive emails from @theoceanproject.org email addresses, or check your spam folder! We will also make an announcement on the website.
We’ve also posted some new images and posters based on Chris Hsu’s great designs in the Promotional Materials section.
Here we have some button and smaller banner sizes of Hsu’s poster.
Enjoy, and let us know if there’s anything we can do to help support you as you organize your event.
We’ve posted some updated art from Chris Hsu, check it out on the Promotional Materials page! We’ll be posting some additional forms of his awesome posters soon. We’re thinking buttons, banners, Facebook images – would that be helpful to you as your advertise your event?
Please give us feedback so we can make sure we’re giving you want to need! You can leave a comment here, tweet at us @CelebrateOceans, or shoot us an email. Until then, keep your eyes peeled for more good stuff.
Thanks to the hundreds of World Oceans Day event organizers who answer our survey! Your responses were incredibly helpful. We want to address your concerns and make your World Oceans Day experience the best it can possibly be.
One major point came through loud and clear: event organizers need a way to connect, share experiences, and use knowledge sharing to make their events better than ever.
We hear you! We’re launching two new ways for event organizers to connect. Both of these are brand new and need some enthusiastic event organizers to help jump start the conversation, so go check them out:
1. Event organizer discussion forum – it takes seconds to join this forum and we won’t send you any weird spam. You can use this forum to share your experiences, vote on polls, and more.
2. World Oceans Day Listserv – a listserv is an email discussion list. Any email you send to the group email address, your email will go to everyone on the list. This list will be closely monitored to prevent spam, and you can sign up to receive a digest of emails if you don’t want to get every one individually. Click here and enter your email address to join, you don’t need to sign up with Wiggio.
Our aim with these discussion forums is to get some good discussions happening, so we can then create a truly useful FAQ page with REAL questions and REAL answers from event organizers, which will help others plan their events (with the organizers and their institutions credited of course!).
Please do join these new forums and post your thoughts or questions. You can also contact me directly if you’re interested in asking a question, answering a question, posting a few tips, or even doing a brief interview with me about your experiences.
Thanks and we’d love to hear your feedback!