Research Supporting Outreach Programs





We provide formative and evaluation research to Pickering Creek Audubon Center on behalf of their saltmarsh community outreach programs at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. The salt marshes of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge serve as a sanctuary for birds migrating along the Atlantic Flyway, habitat for threatened and endangered species, and a buffer for communities against the effects of rising sea levels.





Engaging Eastern Shore Communities in Protection of the Salt Marshes of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge [Stakeholder Interviews]

In Spring 2015, George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication conducted a set of stakeholder interviews with individuals representing four areas of interest for Pickering Creek Audubon Center’s salt marsh outreach program: business and faith communities, higher education, and regional Audubon chapters. Respondents said they believed that effects of changes on the water—flooding and sea‐level rise—were more likely to be discussed than climate change or the marshes. But wetlands still have a public relations problem noted interviewees, perceived as “mucky, mosquito‐infected” areas. People pointed out that the natural aspects of Maryland's Eastern Shore have changed over time. Respondents pointed to tensions in the communities that further complicated these changes: between generations; between farmers and watermen; between environmental groups and industry, especially poultry; between new residents and longtime inhabitants; and between racial groups. Download the Report Here.




Promoting Community Involvement and Opinion Leadership in Protection of the Salt Marshes of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge [Audience and Participant Surveys]

The 2015 and 2016 survey research conducted for this report was intended to benefit the development of Pickering Creek Audubon Center’s outdoor experiential “Salt Marsh Stories” program at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. All four focal audiences—Audubon, higher education, and faith and business communities—have individuals who rank highly on conservation communication and civic leadership. Place attachment to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is one of the strongest factors related to issue involvement and opinion leadership. It significantly predicts combined civic and conservation communication leadership, conservation
communication leadership, and salt marsh issue involvement. Download the Report Here.