This year’s annual workshop was a true testament to how we can adapt our engagement for the collective efforts on stewardship. On March 31st, 2021, 38 people came together on Zoom and worked together, with our two presenters, to discuss the most effective ways to engage citizens in science and stewardship. The lessons learned came from all over the watershed and involved a diverse range of passionate scientists, educators, lake users and associations.

The session kicked off hearing from Meg Duhr, a Research Outreach Specialist at the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Centre. “Stop Spiny” is their recently launched comprehensive outreach campaign to stop the spread of spiny water fleas. Meg focuses on making their scientific studies easy to understand, but more importantly makes the results easy to implement for change and accessible for everyone. Stop Spiny is focused on prevention, and StopSpiny.org hosts a range of videos, resources, fact sheets, information pages and more, that communicate how and why to stop the spread. Meg shared some of the resources, highlighting a map of Minnesota that shows where recreational boaters are coming and going from Lake of the Woods.

Aimee Gourlay, CEO of Mediation Center in Minneapolis, MN, engaged the attendees in a discussion to explore what makes a presentation engaging for each of us. She demonstrated effective techniques like storytelling, knowing your audience, frameworks for planning, and how speaking involves listening too.

She shared things she has learned, and asked us what we took from her presentation. Engaging in dialogue with your audience can help you understand where they are coming from and show that you are willing to exchange knowledge and perspectives, establishing trust and credibility. Active engagement increases knowledge retention, enthusiasm and cognitive capacity.

The participants left equipped with tips for online engagement sessions, how to incorporate public input, and how to best engage the public in science. If you’d like to see a summary of the workshop, it can be found at: file (lowwsf.com)