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OUTREACH ASSISTANCE HANDBOOK

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

Wisconsin

September 2006

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Serviceinstituted a National Outreach Policy,230 GMPart 406, amended in 2006. This policy provides guidance to agency staff to meetoutreach requirements and accountability standards. WisconsinField Offices are to conduct outreach to ensure service to a diverse clientele..

STEP 1-- Identify under-servedand non-traditional customers in each county in Wisconsin.

District Conservationists are responsible foridentifying these individuals and/or groups in their service areas. Here aresome resources to help:

  1. Ag Censusstatistics  National Ag Statistics Service - 2007 Census of Agriculture Demographics by County

  2. Employee and Partner knowledge

  3. Minority organizations

  4. County Government (Public Health, SocialServices, Recorder, Assessor)

  5. Chamber of Commerce

  6. Community non-profitorganizations

  7. Local media

STEP 2—Get to know your Potential Customer Groupsand their Needs

Once you have identified the groups in your county, gather someinformation about them to better understand their needs and the bestcommunication methods for them. Your outreach efforts will be more successfulif you know your audience.

Whatyou need to know:

  • Characteristics (social, economic, cultural),attitudes and perspectives.

  • Connections to land and agriculture

  • Natural resource or other needs, and problems asthey see it.

  • Current efforts in the community to addresstheir natural resource needs

  • What is limiting their participation? (e.g.:Lack of information/knowledge, lack of financial or technical resources,communication barriers, lack of trust in government )

  • Why should they participate? What are thebenefits to them?

Howdo you gather the information? Resources:

  • Staff knowledge
  • Partner knowledge
  • Local agencies and organizations that serve theunderserved groups
  • Local newspapers or other media that serve theunderserved groups
  • Field office records of assistance andparticipation
  • FSA and other government agency records
  • Census data
  • University or Extension Service research andreports
  • Understanding Under-served Customers

Understanding customers and potential customers byconsidering the characteristics, problems, and needs they have in common can behelpful in outreach efforts and success. The following chart may provideinformation to consider.

 

Characteristic Considerations
Education College education or not
Occupational status Full-time or part-time farmer, off-farm job
Intergenerational land transfer Children to take over farm or not
Risk orientation Risk taker or not
Farm size County average, above or below
Number of innovations adopted Average. above, or below
Use of local media for conservation information What sources are used – local, ethnic etc
Conservation planning Follows a conservation plan or not
Local organization participation Active or not
Awareness of resource problems Average, above or below
Gross farm sales County average, above or below
Ownership/rental % of rented and/or owned land
Lease arrangements 1 year, 2 year, stable or not
   

 

Step 3 – Develop anOutreach Component to include in your Field Office Business Plan for the year.

  • Set a goal
  • Identify the target audience
  • List the barriers and benefits to them
  • Write 2-3 short messages to communicate
  • Identify how and when you will communicate ( meetings, direct mail, media, posters, newsletters, etc)
  • Evaluate and report your success.

Be creative!!Action items can include, but are not limited to:

  • Hold demonstrations and tours with members ofunderserved groups
  • Conduct meetings, training sessions, andpresentations
  •  
  • Identify and contact key leaders in thecommunity
  • Develop brochures to meet specific needs
  • Use direct mail
  • Develop and distribute surveys

  • Develop advisory or mentoring networks
  • Develop partnerships with non-traditional groupsand organizations
  • Market the agency better and to non-traditionalgroups
  • Issue news releases, use media used by underservedgroups
  • Become involved in cultural groups
  • Display posters and signs where underservedgroups tend to gather
  • PERSONAL CONTACTS are often thebest, most effective communication
  • Provide church bulletin inserts
  • Maintain information at local libraries, parks

See also Wisconsin Outreach Success Stories

Step 4 – Identify and Request Any Resources forOutreach Implementation

  • Work with your supervisor
  • Contact the Public Affairs staff for assistance
  • Work in cooperation with your partners
  • Enlist a volunteer for help
  • Local or community organizations

Remember to use volunteers, local organizations, and otherpartners to help you. Some items are accomplished better and more effectivelyby non-agency individuals that have more expertise, credibility or contactswith particular groups.

What funds are needed and available? What technicalexpertise is needed and available? Consider all sources for financial andtechnical support: USDA, state, county, local and private funding and technicalpossibilities.

Step 5 –Carry out your plan! Evaluate and report yourprogress and success stories.