Outreach and Education Committee

Wednesday, 9:00 a.m., November 6, 2002

Commission Hearing Room
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
Item
No.
Subject Public Hearing
Agenda Item No.
  Approval of the Committee Minutes from the previous meeting held May 28, 2003.  
  Summary of Minutes  
1. Chairman's Charges (Oral Presentation) Committee Only
2. Outreach and Education Plan
Staff: Scott Boruff
Committee Only
3. Other Business  

Summary of Minutes
Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Outreach and Education Committee

May 29, 2002

BE IT REMEMBERED that heretofore on the 29th day of May 2002, there came on to be heard matters under the regulatory authority of the Parks and Wildlife Commission of Texas, in the commission hearing room of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Headquarters complex, Austin, Travis County, Texas, beginning at 2:12 p.m. to wit:

I. COMMISSION ATTENDANCE:
Donato Ramos, Committee Chairman
Katharine Armstrong Idsal,
Ernest Angelo, Jr.
Al Henry, (ABSENT)
John Avila, Jr.
Joseph Fitzsimons
Phil Montgomery, III
Kelly Rising
Mark Watson, Jr.

II. APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES: Minutes approved.
Ramos entertained motion
Motion: Commissioner Angelo
Second: Commissioner Idsal

III. THE FOLLOWING ITEMS WERE PRESENTED TO THE COMMITTEE FOR CONSIDERATION:

1. BRIEFING – Chairman’s Charges
Executive Director Cook introduced Item 2, update on the status of outreach and education review, which will comply with the chairman’s charges.

2. BRIEFING – SUNSET RECOMMENDATION ON EDUCATION AND OUTREACH
Presenter: Steve Hall, Education and Outreach Director

Hall introduced himself, Nancy Herron, education services coordinator, who assisted him in the education review, and Leah Huth, who chaired and presented on behalf of the Natural Leaders Team that looked, in-depth, at the issue.

He reviewed the recommendations of Issue 6, Sunset Bill, stating that departmental education and outreach programs are:

1) Consistent with mission
2) Non-duplicative by nature
3) Cost effective
4) Effectively measured

Road map to success would have to go through this committee and the newly established education and outreach advisory committee to be appointed sometime before September. Internally, an education and outreach team has been meeting since the mid 90’s to communicate what the different divisions are doing relative to education outreach. During this process the team would be taking on a project leadership role.

Major efforts occurring throughout the department include four major components:

1. Education
2. Interpretation
3. Outreach
4. Communications (including marketing)

The components have overlapping and independent functions. Where they overlap, they serve our mission to the highest degree possible.

Definitions used in the process include:

1. Communications – media flow of information
2. Education – Program based information and education; statewide/formal
3. Interpretation – Site-based programs; field/informal
4. Outreach – Breaking down barriers for participation (in the outdoors)

Outreach efforts focus on women, youth, minorities and people with disabilities – demographics that need to be more involved with Parks and Wildlife mission, programs and activities. The department has launched many activities that either target or invite participation by these groups (e.g. Wildlife Expo).

Management Actions and Considerations:

1. Program Assessment – we are midway through the process; we’ve identified 99 programs and events and are asking program managers things like why their program exists (need), who is there target audience, what are the costs, methodologies, is it a formal or informal effort, and what are the relative costs? As we evaluate programs we are determining what are the outputs an outcomes – if there is quantitative and/or qualitative data.

Key strategies involve completing the assessment by end of July, and handling communications and interpretation components as separate assessments given that they are massive undertakings (requiring different plans) and given that the intent of the sunset recommendations deal with programs and activities outside of these arenas. (However, they will be tied into the narrative of the education and outreach plan.)

2. Internal Oversight - This is taking a look at us, our organization. Leah Huth and her Natural Leaders Team looked at roles and responsibilities at all levels within the organization. The goal is to take a look at entities dealing with education and outreach and assigning authorities to those entities. Also, we are taking a look at performance goals and at a project code dealing with time spent on education and outreach.

Key Strategies include: a) creating an outreach coordination and the statewide and regional levels, b) giving authority to an agency entity to carry on these charges, c) providing a model performance goal, and d) reviewing and consolidating project codes.

3. Evaluation – this is the crux of the plan – What is our effectiveness? This has always been and will always be the key question – probably the hardest to answer, especially when dealing with qualitative types of outcomes. (e.g. when a youngster is 10 years old, what is the impact on him or her when he or she is 20 years of age?) Evaluation involves both short-term and long-term tools. We are excited about helping program managers with tools to actually track that kind of data over time.

Key strategies include: a) encouraging use of evaluation tools such as the balanced scorecard for program management, b) creation of a data base that is consistent across the agency, c) assigning an individual (Nancy Herron) or team to consult with program managers on evaluation processes -- an important role for education and outreach branch to play.

4. Partnerships – We have existing partnerships, both in the non-profit realm and in the realm of in-kind contributions such as our volunteer partners – some of the most successful programs we have going (e.g. COOP program grantees instantly become partners (in conservation).

Key Strategies include: a) working at the regional/local level (e.g. outreach specialist, Johnny Jones, in Houston are identifying and working with regional/local partners such as boys/girls clubs – a key success of this recommendation), b) working with the Texas Education Agency (e.g. TAKS – Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) and making sure our curricula fit in with their standards, c) identifying parks (other sites) closest to schools (e.g. Sheldon Lake area – how Sheldon Lake meets the objectives here in the classroom), d) continuing our partnerships with major universities (e.g. cooperative extension service at Texas A&M – key relationships over the past eight to ten years.

We will finish the plan in August and will have a final draft for Commission inspection/adoption at that time. Timeline includes implementation beginning in September (new fiscal year).

Steve Hall expressed his excitement in tying efforts together at the agency and again recognized Nancy Herron and Leah Huth for their efforts. He entertained questions from the commissioners.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS asked for comments.

COMMISSIONER AVILA asked a fundamental question. Are the committee’s objective, its audience, our total constituency or an age group? Hall asked if the question was relative to the committee or the advisory group’s efforts.COMMISSIONER IDSAL clarified it as the advisory group.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY and AVILA asked what the goal of the program was. Hall answered the outreach goal and the education goal by defining each and giving examples.

COMMISSIONER AVILA concluded that based on all the programs – the answer was our entire constituency and Hall answered, “Exactly.” Avila reconfirmed the definition of outreach as another generation of users of our services. Hall agreed.

COMMISSIONER IDSAL confirmed that the themes and the message remain the same for all constituents. Hall agreed and stated that that was where the circles of communications, education, outreach and interpretation overlap – our mission.

COMMISSIONER AVILA asked if it was possible to eliminates some programs and if Hall would be doing that, or was it beyond our scope (in this process)? Hall stated that it would be a handholding process with the program manager. Avila said that he thought that some consolidation of programs (should be possible). Huth stated that through evaluation and inventory, we would identify best practices and might see some consolidation – or not. We may learn that we need to replicate exemplary programs. We should learn plenty from the new process. Hall hoped that program managers would come to conclusions (of terminating their programs) rather than (the department) using the boot or “…cutting programs…” He stated that he would rather have the tools tell us the answers rather than being placed in the position of being the hammer. However, if so designated by the commission, he wasn’t afraid of playing the role, either.

COMMISSIONER IDSAL asked about the 99 programs that Hall mentioned. Hall clarified that these are programs, events or activities brought to the public by the department vs. public requests handled by department staff.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY reiterated that commissioners would like an advance of an education and outreach (broad) plan if that were what they would be approving.

COMMISSIONER IDSAL stated, on behalf of the commission, how important education and outreach has become (e.g. made it a full committee; she has appointed an advisory group, Sunset had charged us with going through this…). She stated that Mr. Henry has been ill and was a key member of this committee. Although this has slowed us down, it doesn’t take away from the importance, interest or energy and focus in this area. She thinks the time constraint is a concern to her. She intends to focus keenly on this issue over the next week and over the next month regarding the advisory group. She asked that we looked at the programs, our new mission and that we base our actions on good science and sound reason. She thinks that if these guide us, we can come up with a good plan.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY agreed and asked Hall to be a little more specific when it comes to describing the children served by the programs and to be specific with numbers in the plan because otherwise people will run through the report without sensing the real impacts. He also wished to read specific recommendations on how to measure long-term impacts because the big challenge is creating behavior patterns that cause people to do things in the outdoors that are more of our mission. Hall said that long-term projects may be costly but worth the effort and that we shouldn’t put all of our eggs into one basket (e.g. all in awareness programs…). Montgomery concluded that the finer the grade the better our judgments and that he was excited about the project.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS asked for any more questions.

COMMISSIONER AVILA agreed with Idsal, reaffirmed our outreach goal and expressed gratitude to Hall.

3. BRIEFING – WATER COMMUNICATIONS INITIATIVE

Presenter: Lydia Saldaña, Communications Division Director

Saldaña introduced herself and Dr. Larry McKinney, Senior Aquatics Director, and asked that McKinney begin the presentation. McKinney pointed out that the focus of the Water Communications Initiative is water – the single most important source management issue faced by TPWD. The next session of the Legislature will be taking up the issue of how to include environmental needs into water permitting and management. He stressed that water must be secured for fish and wildlife during this critical decision-making period. McKinney explained that informing decision-makers, constituents and the public of these issues is very important for TPWD and all Texans. When polled, 48% of our constituents say that water-related issues are their biggest concern; they are aware of the importance of water, but also may not clearly understand what water does, why it is important, and the connection to fish and wildlife in Texas. McKinney then yielded the floor to Saldaña.

Lydia Saldaña related the planned strategy to help Texans understand the value of water. The initiative, called “Texas - The State of Water”, will utilize every one of the communication tools at TPWD’s disposal and will enable the Department to raise Texans’ awareness and understanding of these very complex water issues.

Brazos Mutual Fund and its’ creator, John McStay of John McStay Investments, donated $100,000 to assist in this effort. Additional funding from Larry McKinney and the Brazos River Authority has made possible the July issue of the magazine – its’ size alone greatly increased the cost of producing it.

Saldaña then briefed the Commission on the communications tools being utilized in the initiative. In addition to print, broadcast programs and the World Wide Web, TPWD will also be depending on our media colleagues, the outdoor and environment writers of the state to help deliver this message on a continuing basis.

Launching the communications initiative will be the July issue of Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine, “The State of Water”. Saldaña noted that this issue is the most ambitious ever published by the magazine, as well as being the longest at 116 pages. Taking a National Geographic approach to the subject, our goal was to get at the heart and soul of our rivers, springs, and bays. The top writing and photographic talent working in Texas today was enlisted for this issue. Following on the heels of the July issue will be the publication of the Texas Rivers book, a collaboration by author John Graves and photographer Wyman Meinzer, both nationally renowned in their fields. Brazos Mutual Fund is funding a reception on July 31st in Dallas and is also sponsoring a traveling exhibit. The exhibit will feature images and essays from this book; a reception for this exhibit will be held in September. The exhibit will be traveling to several high profile events, including the Texas Book Festival in November.

In addition to press efforts, TPWD Media Productions, with the support of Brazos Mutual Fund, will partner with KERA in Dallas to produce a one-hour television documentary. The documentary will air in February during prime time and is being produced in a way that allows the segments to be pulled out and run in TPWD’s PBS series. Our “Passport to Texas” radio program, which reaches an audience of 350,000 people a week, will feature various stories about water issues in the next six months. Additional sponsorship dollars will determine how robust a future web site will be.

Saldaña explained that media relations efforts would be key in reaching all Texans. Press kits will be going out soon announcing the initiative with the July issue of the magazine. This will be followed by strategic news releases on this issue over the next nine months to one year.

In closing, Saldaña stressed that the entire water communications initiative was a team effort whose work and brainstorming resulted in “our best work ever”. McKinney added that as a result of special effort by the Chairman, Governor Perry had named June “Texas Rivers Month”, which will help to bring the issue to the fore.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS congratulated Saldaña and her staff on their efforts and thanked Dr. McKinney for his work on the initiative and asked for further comments or questions.

CHAIRMAN IDSAL: Very exciting.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS noting there was no further business adjourned the committee.

CHAIRMAN IDSAL adjourned the Commission meeting.

IV. ADJOURNMENT: 2:55 p.m.


Committee Agenda Item No. 1

Outreach and Education Committee
Chairman's Charges
November 2002

(This item will be an oral presentation.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 2
Presenter: Scott Boruff

Outreach and Education Committee
Outreach & Education – Sunset (S.B. 305) Recommendations
Status Report
November 2002

I. DISCUSSION: This briefing is a status of the agency’s response to Sunset recommendations regarding Outreach and Education. It includes: 1) specific response to Sunset issues, 2) plans for ongoing Outreach and Education planning and implementation and 3) update of organizational status of the Education and Outreach Branch, directed by Steve Hall.

The Sunset Report (S.B. 305, Section 16 and 54) mandated that Texas Parks and Wildlife conduct a study of outreach and education and provide a report on recommendations for improving the management and implementation of related programs and activities. Specifically, they asked the department to report on: 1) Program Assessment, 2) Internal Oversight, 3) Evaluation and 4) Partnerships. An education and outreach task force, convened at my request, is responsible for taking what a Natural Leaders team and the education branch reported to you this past fiscal year and integrate their reports into our standardized project planning process.

The Education and Outreach Task Force is preparing an Education and Outreach Project Plan including a revised program assessment (Exhibit A) of existing agency outreach and education programs.

As the first step in the planning process, we have reorganized the education and outreach branch, formerly a separate unit under the direction of Larry McKinney, and placed it within Drew Thigpen’s administrative divisions so that agency education and outreach personnel can better support all program divisions. Specifically, they were placed within the communications division under the leadership of Lydia Saldaña. We feel the education and outreach branch will be better positioned to achieve the strategies recommended by the Sunset Commission and be able to consult with or assist any agency staff member conducting education and outreach programs and activities.

Attachment - 1

1. Exhibit A – Texas Parks and Wildlife Education and Outreach Assessment of Existing Programs and Activities


Committee Agenda Item No. 2
Exhibit A

TPWD Program Assessment


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