A few years ago, the EMU (common building) at the UO was a complete mess. The halls were impossible to navigate and the space was making it harder for student life to flourish, so our government liaison decided to ask for government funding to build a new one. In addition to writing the proposal and going through all of the necessary steps, she held a meeting with the representatives in the EMU. She gave them only the room number, and every one of them turned up late to the meeting after frantically searching halls that more closely resembled mazes. When they finally made it to the meeting, they were greeted by our liaison and a presentation explaining the benefits of upgrading the EMU, which the officials had just experienced first-hand. Her plan worked, and today myself and thousands of other students happily attend events, lectures, and career fairs in a beautiful building that fosters student participation and interaction.
I’ll never forget when I heard that story, because it completely redefined the words “effective communication” for me. Effective communication isn’t just breaking down complicated terms and concepts so that people can understand them, but actually bringing people to the problem and getting them to connect with it. Knowing they would have meetings there in the future, and seeing what campus members were going through, those representatives had a personal stake in the improvement and maintenance of that building, and I hope to have that same impact at the South Slough National Estuarine Reserve (SSNERR) over the next ten weeks.
By connecting people with the SSNERR and the wonderful ecosystem that it protects, I hope to make people see that we all have a personal stake in protecting the environment. Summer camps, seminars, demonstrations, guided tours, research, and monitoring are just a short list of the many ways in which the staff, interns, and volunteers at SSNERR dedicate their time to showing people the magic of the outdoors and the importance of environmental research and protection.
On my most recent hike with one of my mentors, we reached this beautiful clearing and took a moment to take in the view. She told me, “you can kind of think of it like you’re trying to market the South Slough, and really, it’s such an easy sell.”