Through a case study from Washington, DC, participants will learn how to get feedback from historically underrepresented groups and tailor cooperative extension programs to people of different races, ages, and academic backgrounds.
Some people, such as minorities and those from under-educated and lower income backgrounds, are typically excluded from conversations surrounding the degradation and improvement of ecosystem structure, function, and services. In an effort to provide an opportunity for under-served populations to be heard, inform content creation in academic courses and in cooperative extension programs, and create experiential learning opportunities for students at our land-grant university, we developed a survey instrument to gather public perceptions and knowledge on natural resources and climate change. This survey was administered in-person by undergraduate students at the University of the District of Columbia and online in Washington, DC. We will share the lessons we learned about effectively reaching people and how demographics of stakeholders need to be considered. Understanding what people know and perceive is key to designing effective educational programs, engaging in collective conversations, and building effective partnerships that find solutions for environmental problems that benefit the community.