GW Activist Training Tips
Audubon views global warming as one of the greatest threats to birds and habitat today, and Chapters are becoming increasingly interested in educating their members and the general public on the issue. A stellar example comes from Colorado, where a team composed of staff and members from the Audubon Colorado state office, Audubon’s national Policy Office, Colorado Chapters and other environmental organizations are collaboratively presenting a series of Global Warming Activist Trainings throughout the state. Four trainings in four different regions have been offered to date. The goal of the trainings is to engage Audubon members and other interested citizens in learning about the impacts of climate change on the environment and to empower activists to take effective political action to enact state and federal climate change legislation. Laurel Mattrey, Development Manager with Audubon Colorado, shares the following tips for planning a Global Warming Activist Training.
Work with partners. Your Chapter or another entity may initiate and coordinate a training session, but bringing in partners helps share the labor and costs involved, and brings in a wider range of information and perspectives. Each organization can also help promote the event within their own network of members and supporters. Along with environmental groups, consider including faith-based, agricultural, educational, renewable energy, health, and local government organizations and agencies.
Know your audience. It is important to consider your target audience to understand what will interest them and to ensure appropriate messaging from the marketing stage through the presentation stage. For example, in order to attract groups with different perspectives, you might give a different title to a global warming activist training in a progressive college town versus one in a rural oil and gas development area; e.g., callingl the former “Global Warming Activist training” and the latter, “Colorado Wildlife and Resource Advocacy Workshop: Climate Change and Conservation.” For the biggest impact, determine which region or demographic is most important for you to reach. Be sure to invite your local officials to attend the training, including County Commissioners, local Land Use Boards, mayors, city council people, staffers for your federal Senators and Representatives and State legislators.
Promote your training. In addition to asking your partners to help with outreach, connect with local and state environmental groups and encourage them to invite their boards and their members and to post your invitation in their newsletter, websites, or Facebook pages. Post fliers that will have good visibility, and include an RSVP phone number and email address so you can get a good sense of who will be attending and so that people can contact you with questions. Submit an overview of the event to post in newspaper calendars.
Schedule appropriately. Consider when your participants will be most likely be available, and check local community calendars for conflicting events that may be of interest to your target audience. Audubon Colorado ran its workshops in the evenings for 2 to 3 hours, and dinner was provided. The itinerary typically followed this format:
- Present background information about the impacts of climate change on wildlife and habitats/natural resources
- Discuss different types of legislation (federal and state if appropriate) and what they encompass
- Give a 45 minute training on using advocacy tools (e.g., how to write letters to the editor, how to schedule a meeting with a legislator, how to work with the media, etc). PowerPoint presentations* were used to illustrate each tool, and an open dialogue was maintained with program participants, depending on the size of the group.
Present authenticated information. Audubon Colorado does its best to present information about climate change and legislation that is straightforward and scientifically authenticated. Audubon’s Policy Office offers a variety of useful supporting materials* and can also help update you on the latest climate change legislation.
* Audubon’s Policy Office provides Global Warming fact sheets and PowerPoint presentations for download at no cost at http://www.audubon.org/globalWarming/factsheets.php.
FOR MORE INFO:
Contact Laurel Mattrey (Audubon CO) with questions about these tips or the Colorado trainings. Audubon's Policy Office offers a wealth of information at http://www.audubon.org/globalWarming/, and feel free to contact Sean Saville for any of the following:
- How to be an effective advocate in less than 5 minutes
- Chapter Project ideas related to climate and energy
- How to get work with the media
- Sample Letters-to-the-editor on climate change
- How to build effective coalitions
- How to recruit volunteers
- How to plan a campaign