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Examining Motivations and Strategies for Engagement in Urban Forestry

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This presentation was given by my M.S. student Christine Moskell at the MillionTreesNYC Research Symposium, March 2010, New York, NY.

This presentation was given by my M.S. student Christine Moskell at the MillionTreesNYC Research Symposium, March 2010, New York, NY.

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  • REMEMBER to mention this is a map of Brooklyn.To better understand motivations people have to become involved in urban forestry, we interviewed volunteers at the MTNYC fall planting events at Floyd Bennett Field and Marine Park in Brooklyn. We interviewed 30 participants on what their motivations were for attending the event and also about the impacts they thought the trees they were planting that day would have in the parks, as well as the impacts they see urban trees having in their own neighborhoods.
  • This figure lists the top 5 motivations. 40% of volunteers noted community service (i.e. giving back to the community, helping MTYC, satisfaction from volunteering, etc.) as their motivation for attending. About 40% of volunteers also noted the environmental benefits of the trees as a motivating factor. Likewise, many people simply enjoy the activity of planting trees or just love trees. Almost 20% of volunteers listed the benefits to youth from planting trees in the context of planting trees as a way to address climate change, and thus to protect future generations. The “other” category included church, and being inspired by an environmental author (Bill McKibben)
  • We asked participants what impacts they perceived the trees they were planting that day would have in the parks (shown in green) as well as the impacts of the trees in their own neighborhood (shown in orange). This graph illustrates the environmental impacts mentioned by participants. Note that “general environmental improvement” encompasses those responses in which participants knew trees had an environmental impact, but they were unable to name a specific impact. This figure illustrates that participants identified trees as having environmental impacts in both the parks and in their own neighborhoods, although general environmental impacts were more associated with parks. REMEMBER to mention that because our sample included many parks department staff and others from an environmental career, the environmental impacts were recognized more so than they would have been if this sample had been more representative of the general public.
  • We are also interested in the engagement strategies that other urban forestry organizations have used and what have been the challenges of engaging the communities in which they work. In November 2009, we conducted a focus group interview and discussion of 23 urban forestry professionals representing urban forestry organizations from 15 states at the national Partners for Community Forestry conference in Portland, OR.First, each participant individually filled out a survey based on these prompts, and then participants were divided into groups in which to share and discuss their responses. Each group then filled out the same survey together based on their group discussion.EMPHASIZE that the goal of this session was to gain a basic understanding of the strategies and challenges faced by other organizations as they attempt to engage communities in urban forestry.
  • These strategies are in line with the engagement strategies suggested in academic literature. Two of the top 5 strategies were based on the educational content of their programs—education about UF benefits and tree maintenance. Also in program design, urban forestry organizations strive to provide opportunities for the public to give their input on tree planting projects or the communities’ urban forestry needs. Also, giving program participants the change to take leadership or control over aspects of the project.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Examining Motivations and Strategies for Engagement in Urban Forestry
      Shorna Broussard Allred, Ph.D
      Gretchen Ferenz
      Christine Moskell
      Véronique Lambert
      Caroline Tse
      Associate Professor
      Senior Extension Associate
      M.S. Candidate
      Extension Associate
      Extension Educator
    • 2. Project Goal
      To work with residents and community organizations to develop, implement and evaluate an urban forestry community engagement model that will be used by organizations to reach and empower people to be active stewards of their community’s trees and natural resources.
      Photo Credit: CUCE-NYC Staff
    • 3. Theoretical Framework
      Literature has emphasized outcomes of engagement
      Need to emphasize processes that lead to engagement outcomes (Kelly et al. 2000; Reed 2008)
      Community psychology in an urban forestry context (Dean and Bush 2007)
    • 4. Pilot Site Selection Criteria
      Participatory planning process
      New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, MillionTreesNYC
      Tree canopy cover
      User and community activity
      Neighborhood demographics
    • 5. Pilot Study Sites
      Jamaica, Queens
      Canarsie Park, Brooklyn
      Photo credit: www.panoramio.com/8796857
      Photo credit: CUCE-NYC staff
    • 6. Volunteer Steward Survey
      Interviewed participants (n=30) at the Fall 2009 MillionTreesNYC Volunteer Planting Day
      Methods:
      Two sites: Floyd Bennett Field (n=12) and Marine Park (n=18) in Brooklyn, NY
      Structured surveys during snack and water breaks
      Questions:
      Motivations for volunteering
      Perceived impacts of urban trees in the parks
      Perceived impacts of the trees in their own neighborhoods
      Brooklyn, New York
    • 7. Participant residence, park visitation, past and future stewardship
    • 8. Volunteer motivations
    • 9. Perceived environmental impacts of trees in park and in own neighborhood
    • 10. Perceived social impacts of trees in park and in own neighborhood
    • 11. Urban Forestry Professionals
      Focus group interviews and discussion with urban forestry professionals (n=23) at the 2009 Partners in Community Forestry national conference
      Strategies and challenges for engagement
      Program evaluation indicators
      Methods:
      Individual surveys
      Group discussion
      Group surveys
    • 12. “Provide information on benefits and services the people in the community can obtain from urban trees and urban forests.”
      “Convenient education about stewardship (pruning, tree bed gardening, etc).”
      “Create a sense of local control or decision-making ability/capacity.”
    • 13. “Lack of understanding of the public as to what “urban forestry” is.”
      “Language, cultural and economic barriers exist and I am finding that at times I just have to do outreach and recruitment in places I know where support will be there instead of spending time in these communities that are tougher for us to build meaningful connections in.”
      “Pulling them away from busy lifestyles to do a community project on a Saturday when the weather is either too bad or too nice.”
    • 14. Current Activities and Next Steps:
      Current activities:
      Conducting a literature review and analysis of current urban forestry programs
      Identifying local community organizations and resources
      Understanding neighborhood demographics
      Learning about Parks’ plans for tree planting activities
      Next steps:
      Neighborhood wide focus groups with community organizations and surveying of residents
      Implement and test an array of education strategies, activities and tools
      Evaluate and refine the model
      Disseminate the model and results to practitioners nationwide
    • 15. Acknowledgements:Funding provided by the Ittleson Foundation
    • 16. Questions?www.human-dimensions.org/engagementwww.nyc.cce.cornell.edu/UrbanEnvironment/Pages/SustComm.aspx
      Gretchen Ferenz, P.I.
      gsf4@cornell.edu
      Senior Extension Associate
      Véronique Lambert
      Extension Associate
      Caroline Tse
      Extension Educator
      Shorna Broussard Allred, Ph.D., P.I
      srb237@cornell.edu
      Associate Professor
      Christine Moskell
      csm94@cornell.edu
      M.S. Candidate
    • 17. Literature Cited:
      Dean, J.H., Bush, R.A. 2007. A community psychology view of environmental organization processes. American Journal of Community Psychology. 40: 146 – 166.
      Kelly, J.G., Ryan, A.M., Altman, B.E., Stelzner, S.P. 2000. “Understanding and changing social systems: An ecological view.” In The Handbook of Community Psychology, edited by Julian Rappaport and Edward Seidman. 133 – 159. New York: Klewer Academic/Plenum Publishers.
      Reed, M.S. 2008. Stakeholder participation for environmental management: A literature review. Biological Conservation. 141: 2417 – 2431.

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