Communication Training for Forestry Professionals

Speaker Bios | Resource List

Forestry Conference

Workshop attendees apply communication tips to a forestry case study during the workshop. Photo by Metcalf Institute.

October 8 – 11, 2014
Joint National Convention of Society of American Foresters, Canadian Institute of Forestry &
International Union of Forest Research Organizations World Congress
Salt Palace Convention Center, room 255A
Salt Lake City, Utah

We all know there are no simple answers to questions about renewable natural resources management. Whether you are a scientist, land manager, educator, or policy specialist, and your work focuses on recreation, community forestry, economics, wildlife, or production forestry, the ability to convey knowledge accurately and effectively is a critical professional skill. These interactive conference workshops were designed to build outreach and communication skills.

Friday, October 10, 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
PLENARY SESSION: Data and Models and Maps, Oh My! Communicating Science in an Uncertain World

Courtesy: National Park Service

Courtesy: National Park Service

ABDEL EL-SHAARAWI, Canada Centre for Inland Waters; DAVID BRILLINGER, University of California, Berkeley;
SUNSHINE MENEZES, Metcalf Institute
As forestry decisions grow ever more complex, the translation of data, model predictions, and maps into meaningful, scientifically defensible, usable information poses an unprecedented challenge.  This plenary explored pathways towards more transparent science and strengthening the scientific foundations of the forestry profession.

It also addressed the need to communicate more clearly the complex piece of uncertainty in research, models, and interpretation of results not only among ourselves, but to policymakers and the public in such a way that doesn’t render our knowledge, science, and credibility as scientists and managers ineffective.

Here’s what some participants had to say about their Metcalf experience in an anonymous exit survey:

“There was a lot of value at the Convention, but the workshop was the most valuable organized event for me. Although I’ve had a fair amount of media training and exposure to journalists, this was still very helpful.” – Manager, State Government

“I think this type of workshop should be offered at every natural resource management related conference. Often we are overwhelmed with just the gigantic task of managing the resource that we are quick to shy away from the nuance and challenge associated with improving communication. The opportunity a workshop like this provides to explore the topic with fellow professionals in a low risk environment is invaluable.” – University Forest Manager

Click on presenter’s name, below, to view their presentation.

Friday October 10, 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Harnessing the Power of the Web for Science Communication
SUNSHINE MENEZES, Metcalf Institute; CALLY CARSWELL, Freelance Journalist
Designed for foresters confounded by Twitter and LinkedIn who want to use social media more effectively, this workshop provided the nuts & bolts of how to better engage diverse audiences through web-based science communication. Participants learned how to add useful tools to their skill set including blogging, information curation via Twitter, and LinkedIn for topic-specific dialogue with a wider audience of professional peers.

Friday October 10, 1:30 pm – 4:30 p.m.
Avoiding Over-Simplifying Science without Losing Your Audience

CALLY CARSWELL, Freelance Journalist; JAMIE BARBOUR, U.S.D.A. Forest Service; RHONDA MAZZA, U.S.D.A. Forest Service; JUDY FAHYS, KUER Utah NPR; SUNSHINE MENEZES, URI Metcalf Institute
Communities, journalists and legislators look to forestry professionals to provide answers on a wide range of resource concerns, from spruce budworm epidemics to biomass utilization, longleaf pine restoration, wildland fire prevention, and eradication of yellow star-thistle. This workshop combined presentations and interactive exercises to enable participants to learn and practice methods for communicating complex issues and scientific uncertainty without losing their audiences.

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