Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Outreach and Education Committee

May 24, 2006

Commission Hearing Room
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744

BE IT REMEMBERED, that heretofore on the 24th day of May, 2006, there came to be heard matters under the regulatory authority of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission in the Commission Hearing Room of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex, to wit:

APPEARANCES:

THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION:

THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT:

P R O C E E D I N G S

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Okay at this time I'll convene the Outreach and Education Committee meeting, and the first order of business is the approval of the minutes from the last meeting. Do I have a motion?

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: So move.

COMMISSIONER BROWN: Second.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Moved by Commissioner Friedkin and seconded by Commissioner Brown. All in favor say, aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Opposed.

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Motion passes. The first Committee item is the update by Mr. Cook on the Land and Water Plan update.

MR. COOK: Mr. Chairman. Our Life's Better Outside communication effort will be very visible this spring and summer, thanks to our continued partnership with GSD&M ad agency. And we'll be briefing the Commission on that in just a few minutes.

The Angler Education staff in the Communications Division have provided funding, training, equipment and administrative support for eight contract workers at eight state parks to organize and put on family fishing celebration events this summer.

At this time the contract workers and Parks staff have planned 35 different events for the months of May to August, many of which will include basic and advanced fishing classes. The program promotes angling and brings new visitors to our state parks.

Take Me Fishing Houston is a pilot project to introduce kids and families to fishing and aquatic research stewardship in the Houston area through partnerships with 14 community groups. About 1,500 kids and their families will learn how to fish and take care of aquatic resources this year.

The focus of the pilot is to learn how to better target Hispanic families and will be extensively evaluated for effectiveness. The program is a combined effort of communications in Inland Fisheries, Coastal Fisheries, Law Enforcement and State Parks Divisions and the Recreational Boating Fishing Foundation who is funding the research in hopes of a national model for reaching this audience.

The Angler Education staff signed an MOA with the Texas Bass Federation Nation that will provide incentives for club members across the state to become certified as Angler Education instructors, teach youth to fish and promote various youth-oriented activities, such as youth clubs, the Junior Bass Masters Tournament Trail and Casting Kids.

The agreement opens up a statewide relationship that will result in a significant number of youth and children who will be introduced to angling for the first time. Thank you, sir.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Thank you, Mr. Cook.

The second item on the agenda is the great motto, "Life's Better Outside." Ms. Darcy Bontempo, and I'm sorry ‑‑ okay, thank you.

MS. SIMMONS: That's okay, Laurel Simmons.

MS. BONTEMPO: Good afternoon, Chairman and Commissioners. I'm here today, name is Darcy Bontempo. I'm the Marketing Director of Parks and Wildlife. I'm here today with Laurel Simmons, who's the account supervisor at GSD&M.

We're here today to update you on the "Life's Better Outside" campaign. To start off I'd like to just take you through a little bit of background of how we got there.

First off as we enter the 21st century Texas Parks and Wildlife realizes there are a variety of trends taking place in Texas: the tremendous urbanization in the state, the growth of the Hispanic population which will soon be in our lifetimes the majority population; and also the fact that parks and outdoor recreation are not keeping pace with the growth and population that we're seeing in the state.

So in order to address these challenges Chairman Fitzsimons actually created an Outreach and Education Advisory Committee in 2002. That Committee provided input to this Department's Outreach, Education and Interpretation Strategic Plan. That was approved in 2004.

One of the key components of that plan was the development of strategic messages, which were intended to encourage Texans to become more involved in outdoors as well as in conservation. One of the first steps really was trying to attract what we called the unengaged urban families.

Those are families who are not active users of parks or the outdoors. They're not frequent users. We wanted to get them involved first of all in the outdoors. And we saw that really, as I said, as a first step and them caring about conservation.

GSD&M, who's been a member of the Committee since its inception, provided pro bono research and creative work towards this effort. With that I'm going to turn the presentation over to Laurel Simmons. And I just want to say, some of you may not be familiar with GSD&M as an ad agency.

I just wanted to just quickly mention. We're very thrilled that they are our partner. They created the "Don't Mess with Texas" anti-litter, public education campaign most of you are familiar with. Their clients include Southwest Airlines, MasterCard, Chili's, Wal-Mart, AT&T and many others.

So they're a topnotch advertising agency that have lent their support for this effort. And Laurel has actually been with us for 18 months. So she's been working on this campaign from the very beginning as well.

So with that I'll turn it over to Laurel to take you through the research and the creative.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Thank you, Darcy.

MS. SIMMONS: Okay. Please jump in if you have questions. I'll show the creative in just a second. But I did want to touch on what we did in the first part of this, probably over two years ago now. We really wanted to make sure that whatever creative came out of it, was grounded in very strategic learning and research within this target audience.

So we telephoned unengaged parents. We met with them in focus groups. We gave parents and families journals to go actually out into the parks and write about their experience. And then we used a lot of secondary just national trend data for coming up with these strategic messaging, and then on into the creative.

So, some of the key points that came out of this is probably no surprise at all. Home life equals busy life. It's no longer the sanctuary of rest and relaxation. It's actually this hub more than anything of everything else.

Free time is fading away. There's no free time. Everything's scheduled. So if you as a parent aren't completely scheduled with work and kids, then your kids are completely scheduled, and you're shuffling them back and forth.

The third point, I think, is probably the best part for all of us is that outside time really does equal quality time. There are no distractions. There's a way to make connections just by being with each other.

Cell phones often don't work when you're in certain parts of the area. So it's a good time to really connect. The other things that we learned ‑‑ okay, so you're an unengaged parent. What would it take to get you outside?

What's stopping you from spending more time outdoors? Some of them really just needed, frankly, information. They needed information on where to go. They needed to know it was safe for their children. If they had a two-year-old and a 12-year-old, was it as safe for my two-year-old as it for my 12-year-old?

Also because time is such an important factor in their life, they needed to know that it was close by. Could we go for a day and not have to worry about spending the night or anything like that. And then finally ‑‑ which we all know ‑‑ that kids can be a nagging motivator.

So they are a good source for us to kind of get that guilt going and have them move outside. So that's from some of the national data that we took a look at. The parks-specific learning came from these journals.

And that was some of the most interesting and just rich insight, because there were pictures drawn and words written directly from these parents. What we asked were kind of three different parts. One is, what are your expectations before you go? What do you expect?

And some of them really ‑‑ they were all positive, like get away from everyday distractions, create new adventures of some sort. It will enable some more family connections that we really can't achieve at home. And then we'll be able to create memories.

Now, this is what I think is really critical, I guess, when we went to develop the work is what else? What learnings do we need in order to move forward. Really there's no top-of-mind awareness of state parks, especially in Dallas and Houston where these journals were done.

They don't understand that parks are so close to them. They think that they are very far away. They don't know what to pack. They don't know if it's a day trip or if it's camping. If it's camping what do I bring?

If it's just a day trip do I still need to bring a variety of materials and resources. So they're completely unsure. And then the cost and fees. Is it affordable? If I have a family of six, can I still afford to do this was another big learning.

So the good news is that when they did visit and they wrote these journals, was that the parks were closer than they expected, which was good. They didn't need a lot of equipment or knowledge. Everything was right there for them, and they just got to go and enjoy.

And everything was pretty much positive. They really enjoyed their time there. So it was all good learning. So with that we developed several different creative concepts and several different tag lines actually and tested them against our audience, to see what really resonated.

And the tag line absolutely that rose to the top was "Life's Better Outside." And I think it's been very well received, whoever hears it. I think it's a strong line for you all. The actual concepts were presented to you at this time last year for everyone, for those of you who were here.

And we actually debuted the tag line at Expo in October with signage, program materials and event merchandise. And then the ads have been running in Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine as well as in Texas Monthly.

And this was our launch ad. This is the first one. It says, "Do whatever it takes to get your kids outside. Keep score by counting time spent together. Visit Pedernales Falls or any one of the more than 115 state parks. Texas Parks and Wildlife. Life's Better Outside."

COMMISSIONER BROWN: Are we doing anything in Spanish, are we advertising with some of the Latino venues?

MS. SIMMONS: Right now nothing is in Spanish. That's what we were actually just meeting about ‑‑ how to take that next step and what can we do in Spanish and what makes the most sense. I was saying that we really need to be careful. We don't want to do some in Spanish and some not. It needs to be very genuine and authentic and not kind of half in the middle of doing it. So that's just something we need to kind of be mindful of, I guess, in moving forward.

COMMISSIONER BROWN: So we are working on that.

MS. SIMMONS: Yes. I mean it's definitely an important piece of this. Absolutely. The line, I think is already translated within your glossary of terms and thing like that.

MS. BONTEMPO: We'll talk a little bit more about that or touch on it when we get into looking ahead.

MS. SIMMONS: I can pass this around. And then this year we've actually had quite a bit of momentum. So it kind of started soft in the fall. We've received quite a bit of free, donated space and such. So that's good news.

But we did do another print ad. And it says, "Do whatever it takes to get your kids outside." So the same concept with the remote control. "Keep score by counting time spent together." And this is "Visit McKinney Falls State Park or any one of the more than 115 state parks. Life's Better Outside." Pass that around.

Then this spring, as I mentioned, there have been a few other things that we've received out of the goodness of people's hearts more than anything. But we have an in-school marketing effort through Classmates Marketing.

And we were able to get into over 500 elementary schools. Part of that we were able to do a poster that was put up in like teachers' lounges and things like that. So it's a really nice, huge size of that print ad that was put out in different places.

And then as well as ‑‑ and this was probably the best part of it ‑‑ is they were willing to give teachers a letter from Texas Parks and Wildlife with a map and a coupon on the back, so to generate some trial basically with people who maybe have never tried a park for the summertime during their vacation.

So here's the letter and then the back side. We really felt like out of those learnings that I shared with you, felt like it was very, very important to show how many parks were close by to your elementary school.

So we tried to put the dots where different parks are, and then of course a discount coupon. Pass these around.

MS. BONTEMPO: And all that drives people to the website of course.

MS. SIMMONS: Yes. And then we have, and if I can also cue the billboard footage we've also received billboard placements in about 14 markets around the state. And this one's here in Austin. Then last but not least we've been getting great, great coverage with our radio spots.

We just produced a 60 and a 30. Radio stations, they do have a required amount of time they have to give away for free. And everyone has been just very receptive to these. We are possibly exploring even sending bumper stickers or passes or something for when they do radio remotes.

That's something we're interested in doing. And we're kind of exploring that possibility right now to even generate more trial this summer. So with that we can do the radio.

(Radio ad plays.)

COMMISSIONER BROWN: That's good. What's the length on that?

MS. SIMMONS: That's the 60, and there's a 30 coming.

(Radio ad plays.)

MR. COOK: I have to inject something here. Before we had those finished your Communications Division director brought this idea into the Division Directors one morning and sang those two verses. We loved the campaign, but we immediately also campaigned for some new singers.

MS. SIMMONS: With that I'll hand it over to Darcy if there are questions and she will start talking about ‑‑

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: First of all we want to obviously thank you for your efforts. This is very innovative and very challenging. It's invigorating because it's an arena that really needs help. But I'll have some other comments.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I want to thank you and all your colleagues at GSD&M for making this contribution, because I know normally you do this for a very nice fee. You do an excellent job for the clients you represent. And you did no less for us. I appreciate it.

MS. SIMMONS: Thank you. It's our pleasure.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Any other comments?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Well, a couple of additional points. One is I really am excited over the in-school marketing effort. I've always wished that we could get our great magazine to every library in the state.

Perhaps that's too ambitious, and we obviously don't have the funds to do that. But you know there are groups out there, like the 4-H groups, the FFA groups, Boy Scouts and other similar groups, that are dealing with the youth.

And I think if we cannot get the youth engaged and committed to the outdoors, it's going to be harder with time to all of a sudden wake up and say, By God. It's kind of like going to a wrestling match. If you go when you're young you kind of get addicted to it.

I think the key to the future of hunting and fishing is getting the addiction and experiencing the fishing or the hunting at a very young age. And it's a very challenging arena. This is a great starting point. And I'm not addicted, by the way, to wrestling matches.

But anyway, Thank you. This is really invigorating. I wish we could somehow get this message like you're doing to the schools. And if we can't get the magazine to every high school or junior high school library, maybe we can get it to the main library of each municipality, because we have a great magazine.

I've always said that. And we need to get it to other arenas.

MS. BONTEMPO: Here's the ad in this month's Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Donato, each month when the magazines come in, the supply, about 15 of them, I put a little sticker on them. It says that this publication is placed here courtesy of Governor Rick Perry and myself. I take all of them.

I have to drive past the school administration office every day on my way to the office. I drop them off in there, and they distribute them to the school libraries.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: That's great. I've done it in a little different fashion. But I think that's what we're all striving for. We realize the high cost of postage and issues of that type.

Darcy, thank you and staff. I'm excited. In fact if you look at my vehicle I already have a "Life's Better Outside." I've heard it said that that's perfect for our inmates at the penitentiary.

MS. BONTEMPO: We've also heard that comment. I apologize. Actually I was going to show a few more slides just to give you an idea of where we're headed.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Absolutely. Go on.

MS. BONTEMPO: If there's time for that. Just looking ahead really to 2007, we're very excited about being able to increase awareness for this campaign. As Laurel said, it's just now beginning to really gather some steam and a lot of support.

We've had such a positive response to the campaign, which is encouraging. We definitely want to continue the PSA effort. Probably again in spring of the following year in '07, continue to look for radio and billboard and free donations.

We aren't going to be able to get more donations for the Classmates Marketing. But we want to budget some dollars to be able to get back in the schools again for spring. We're also going to look at expanding our current print media buy with some parenting magazines such as Dallas Child, Austin Family and possibly some other community local publications.

So we'll be looking at that in '07. We're also going to be working closely with GSD&M to explore non-traditional media venues, whether they be malls or other things. We don't know yet what those will be. But we are definitely wanting to explore those.

Again as the headline there says, we want to reach them, then engage where they go, where they shop, where they eat, and get the message to them. Then of course we think it'll be a great idea to distribute materials at the urban YMCAs and community centers.

So it's an opportunity with the posters and with brochures and other things to get them to the parks in their area. And overall in all of our efforts we're going to really be working on placing emphasis on those local places where the families can go to enjoy the outdoors.

In addition, as mentioned a little bit earlier with the Spanish language, one of the first things we're going to be looking at is the Spanish radio spot. We want to find something that's culturally relevant.

We can't just translate that spot. But we've had some initial conversations with the radio station here in Austin. And they're going to, I think, work with us closely kind of on a consulting basis, along with GSD&M to develop some relevant spots that will appeal to that market.

Then we'll be producing spots to get out to stations, again in the urban areas as well as in the medium size cities to reach these unengaged urban audiences. So we're very much looking forward to doing that.

We're also looking at developing strategies to reach kids ‑‑ again that nag factor that Laurel talked about earlier. This is something GSD&M actually pointed out in one of the very first presentations they did when they were looking at our programs.

The in-school archery program would be a really good opportunity. Other youth-type programs that reach kids, we want to definitely do that. So we'll be looking at that. And finally we will be soliciting sponsors as a way to help fund these strategies.

Toyota is our first corporate sponsor. We're thrilled about that. It's going to help us get the message out to these audiences. We're just very grateful about that. And we're very excited, as I said, as we have some dollars to look ahead into '07 to start doing some things.

So, it's been a great campaign so far. We appreciate the opportunity to share it with you. At this time if you have any questions or thoughts or ideas we'd love to hear them.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: The only thing that I would add is that I'm glad that you're looking at minorities as part of this program, because I think statistics indicate that minorities are even not accessing the outdoors at accelerating rates.

So, we need to slow it down or reverse it or flatten it to some extent. And there's many areas of the state that in particular need that type of attention.

Then again, Toyota, thank you again for your support.

Any other comments?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Well, thank you all. This is not an action item.

Laurel, thank you very much for you and your firm and your staff.

And Darcy, you and your staff.

MS. BONTEMPO: Thanks, thank you so much.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Okay. The next item is item number three, Coastal Expo Program briefing. Mr. Dave Buzan and Ms. Kris Shipman.

It's a different gentleman.

DR. MCKINNEY: Mr. Chairman, I'm Larry McKinney, Director of Coastal Fisheries. I'm filling in for Dave this morning just to kind of introduce this presentation. Dave didn't know if he'd get back, although he did ‑‑ just barely snuck back in from the field.

But I thought it would be a good opportunity, because I wanted to recognize Dave. This concept of these Coastal Expos came out of our concern some years ago over how do we get across this message about how important freshwater inflows were to estuaries and those type of things.

And Dave came up with this concept. And for a number of years Dave borrowed and stole. I just said, don't tell me. I don't want to know what you're doing to get it going, but you did. And Janet Nelson went with him.

So they've been a big part of this. I think it's been a very successful program as Kris will tell you. So I just wanted to give that introduction and recognize Dave for that.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Thank you, Dave.

MS. SHIPMAN: Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. I'm Kris Shipman. I'm the Coastal Expo coordinator. Recognizing that most of Texas forms the watershed for the Texas coast and that Texans all over the state, not just those living along the coast, play a critical role in protecting coastal ecosystems.

The Coastal Fisheries Division piloted an educational outreachment in 1999 called Coastal Expo. Coastal Expo's mission is to increase the public's awareness of Texas coastal ecosystems, why there are important and how people can protect them.

These events primarily target minority and urban populations ‑‑ traditionally those who might not have the opportunity to visit the Texas coast. Coastal Expo is based upon an established conservation program modeled for stewardship. It has been adopted by TPWD. As you see, Coastal Expo raises awareness and builds appreciation, which is the first step in becoming a responsible steward.

Since our first Coastal Expo in 1999 we have conducted 44 Coastal Expos reaching over 100,000 people with over 75 percent of those participants being minorities. And while it is hard to determine the long-term impact of an outreachment such as Coastal Expo, we constantly receive positive feedback from our partners, teachers, parents, children and volunteers.

And here are just a few of the comments that I've received. One is from a member of the U.S. Coast Guard, and the others are from students that I received thank you letters from. Coastal Expo also promotes TPWD programs by inviting the local state parks, Wildlife Management Areas, the game wardens, inland fisheries and coastal fisheries staff to participate in the event with exhibits and activities.

We also traditionally have the educational programs like boater safety, hunter education and junior angler, these events Coastal Expo relies upon our local partners.

Over the past two years we've partnered with over 20 difference agencies, ranging from community and civic groups such as the Bay City's Lions Club, to organizations like the Lower Colorado River Authority and other state agencies, such as the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

And Coastal Expos also rely upon our donations and volunteers that we receive to be successful. For the past two years we have received donations of monetary and in-kind donations that equal $20,000.

And over those past two years we've utilized 900 volunteers that have volunteered 7,200 hours of service. This equals a cost savings of $126,216 based upon the independent sector's dollar value of a volunteer at $17.53 an hour.

Due to an increase in demand for Coastal Expos, an increase in the workload and a staff reduction, the Coastal Fisheries Division sought and received a Coastal Management Program grant in 2004 from the Texas General Land Office to hire a Coastal Expo coordinator.

As a result of this one-year grant, a protocol was developed for local communities to host Coastal Expos. Four Coastal Expo kits were also created so that communities could host their own Coastal Expo events.

These kits are in Sea Center of Texas, the CCACPO Marine Development Center, Estero Llano Grande State Park, and we have one here in Austin. We also conducted 16 Coastal Expos during those two years, reaching over 55,000 people with over 85 percent of those being minorities, and partnered with 18 different agencies, ranging from community and civic organizations to state and federal local agencies.

So what's next with Coastal Expo? We have just received an EPA Gulf of Mexico program grant for 2007 to continue to utilize Coastal Expo coordinator and to develop and implement educational materials and lesson plans and activities for young children and additional components to the Coastal Expo kits.

These new activities will focus on coastal hazards such as hurricanes and tropical storms, subsidence and erosion, coastal wetlands and freshwater inflows. These materials will then be correlated to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills ‑‑ or TEKS ‑‑ so that they can be utilized by teachers.

And also we plan on translating them into Spanish. Then these components will be made available to teachers and environmental educators to utilize with their classes or their youth groups prior to attending a Coastal Expo.

In the process with this grant we will also have 15 Coastal Expos that we will be conducting primarily in the Lower Laguna Madre, the Texas coastal bends and bays and the Galveston Bay area. And additionally three new Coastal Expo kits will also be created to be put in those locations.

Just to summarize, in the last seven years we have conducted the 44 Coastal Expos, reaching over 100,000 people with 75 percent of them being minorities, and also created those kits. That's it. Thank you. Do you have any questions?

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I hope you're taking the opportunity to tell a story of environmental flows so ‑‑

MS. SHIPMAN: We do talk about the freshwater inflows.

DR. MCKINNEY: That was the start of this whole program.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Good, because when I go to Corpus, I still hear people calling in on talk shows, mad that they see water going over the dam into the bay. So I wonder ‑‑

DR. MCKINNEY: We're working on their kit.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: — they get the message that that's what's keeping those bays and estuaries alive.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Let me ask a dumb question. What is a Coastal Expo loaner kit? Something we put together that you lend to groups or municipalities?

MS. SHIPMAN: Yes. I've put together a kit with basically a lot of the materials and activities that we do for Coastal Expo events. For example I have a lot of ‑‑ we call beach goodies; it's one of the activities.

And it's full of seashells and all sorts of stuff. And I send out the kit with the protocol so that people can use it either at one of their own events ‑‑ for example, I've had a lot of summer camps calling and using the kits over the period of the youth camp, or if they're having another event that they can use it.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: But that would be something that would be available like for a little county fair or anyone.

MS. SHIPMAN: Absolutely yes.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Any other comments from any of the Commissioners?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Okay. Kris, thank you very much.

Dave, we appreciate your being here and your efforts in that regard. This is a great program. Again, it's the essence to outreach. Thank you very much.

Is there any other business to be brought before this Committee, Mr. Cook?

Then at this time this Committee has completed its business and we will move on to the Regulations Committee.

(Whereupon, at 1:45 p.m., the meeting was adjourned.)

C E R T I F I C A T E

MEETING OF: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, Outreach and Education Committee

LOCATION: Austin, Texas

DATE: May 24, 2006

I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 28, inclusive, are the true, accurate, and complete transcript prepared from the verbal recording made by electronic recording by Penny Bynum before the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.

6/02/2006

(Transcriber) (Date)


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