One of the goals of FMR is to reach out to watershed residents and share important knowledge about water quality issues that can not only protect people's health, but also protect the health of the Mad River. Outreach about complicated issues is arguably the most challenging aspect of our work, and it is even more difficult to affect meaningful change in the community.
The goal of the strategic communications project is to gather information, identify ways to reach a wider range and greater number of people and ultimately define strategies to engage them more fully in watershed conservation activities. We need to get a better understanding of why people do or donít care about river conservation.
One way of doing this is to examine what kind of language they use in association with the river and FMR. To explore this, we plan to hold a series of focus groups in which participants share their perceptions and attitudes about the Mad River and about Friends of the Mad River. In this way we hope to gain a better understanding of our audience: what values, questions and concerns they have about the Mad River. Consultant Scott Sainsbury of Beacon associates has volunteered to lead the focus groups with FMR, and also to help us analyze and make sense of the results. Once the results have been analyzed, we plan to use the information to design more effective outreach materials and to guide us in our daily work.
The first round of focus groups will be held in late May. If you are interested in participating, please e-mail us.