Information/Education Component

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Watershed Management Process
Build Partnerships
Characterize the Watershed
Set Goals and Identify Solutions
Design an Implementation Program
Implement the Watershed Plan
Measure Progress and Make Adjustments

Every watershed plan should include an information/education (I/E) component that is used to help achieve the overall goals of the watershed protection or restoration effort. Because many water quality problems result from individual actions and the solutions are often voluntary practices, effective public involvement and participation promote the adoption of management practices, help to ensure the sustainability of the watershed management plan, and perhaps most important, encourage changes in behavior that will help achieve your overall watershed goals. This section of the watershed management process should result in element e of the nine elements for section 319 watershed plans. Element e is “an information and education component used to enhance public understanding of the project and encourage their early and continued participation in selecting, designing, and implementing the nonpoint source management measures that will be implemented.”

The objectives of the public outreach program should directly support your watershed management goals and implementation of the watershed management plan. The I/E components identified should also include measurable objectives and indicators for measuring progress. There are six basic steps to developing an effective I/E program. These steps are described in detail in the Watershed Handbook in Chapter 12, section 2 of EPA's Handbook for Developing Watershed Plans to Restore and Protect Our Waters (p 12-2)

Step 1: Define I/E Goals and Objectives

Identify I/E goals for the watershed plan implementation program. It's very important to make your objectives as specific as possible and to include a time element as well as a result.

Step 2: Identify and Analyze the Target Audience

Identify the audiences you need to reach to meet your objectives. The target audience is the group of people you want to reach with your message. </p>

Step 3: Create the Message

After gathering information on members of the target audience, craft a message that will engage them and help achieve your watershed planning objectives. </p>

Step 4: Package the Message

Determine the best way to communicate your message to the target audience such as working with the media, using effective print materials, holding events and activities, and leveraging your resources. </p>

Step 5: Distribute the Message

Once the message has been packaged in the desired format, distribute the materials, which can include direct mail, door-to-door, by phone, through targeted businesses, during presentations, as hand-outs at events, through media outlets, and by posting your message in public places. </p>

Step 6: Evaluate the I/E Program

Develop an evaluation component to serve as a feedback mechanism for ongoing improvement of your outreach effort. Building an evaluation component into the plan from the beginning will ensure that at least some accurate feedback on outreach program impact is generated.

Useful Tools

Category:Tools for Developing the Information/Education Component is an abbreviated list of tools that might be used to help develop the information/education component of the watershed management plan. Each tool has a watershed central collaborative content area (where the tools can be discussed and rated) as well as links to the actual tool.