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Guide Resource Index

Guide Resource Index

Scope Your Project

Get to Know Intended User Needs
GUIDE TOOL: This tool will guide you through a process of identifying and considering the needs of potential intended users to inform how you frame and focus a project.
Define Your Project’s Purpose
GUIDE RESOURCE: This resource contains several examples of summary problem statements that convey a spectrum of different types of management needs, beg different types of collaborative science projects, and involve different types of users in different ways.

Design Your Project

Decide Who Needs to Be Involved and How
GUIDE CASE STUDY: Involving younger stakeholders in collaborative projects can provide information about how they perceive, value, and understand the environment and help connect them with environmental stewardship and their community.
GUIDE TOOL: This tool will help you characterize the interests of project users and other potential participants to help you deepen your relationships and develop appropriate roles in the project.
Build Your Team
GUIDE CASE STUDY: To be effective, collaborative project teams must include the right skill sets, but it’s also important to include team members who have established relationships with or access to your project’s intended users.
GUIDE TOOL: This tool will help you think carefully about your team roster, allocate enough time and resources to key tasks, and prepare for the unique challenges of collaborative science.
Design Your Collaborative Process
GUIDE CASE STUDY: A team from the South Slough reserve modified their collaborative approach as a result of end user preferences in their project, Bringing the “Oly” Oyster Back to Oregon’s Coast.
GUIDE CASE STUDY: To help elevate the cultural significance of plants and preserve their knowledge, Indigenous knowledge holders agreed to advise a project team as they developed a planting guide for the Gichi-gami basin. As discussions began, the team quickly discovered differing expectations about what and how Indigenous knowledge would inform the final guide.

Enhance Your Collaboration

Plan Timelines and Team Roles
GUIDE TOOL: This document outlines a set of questions to consider early in the project to clarify roles and responsibilities for a project advisory group.
GUIDE TOOL: This document explains the policies and process for completing your project’s data management activities and ensuring compliance with federal data sharing and archiving standards.
The Connect to Protect project team created this project sustainability plan so that team members could evaluate which science transfer activities should continue, prioritize next steps, and consider ways the work can continue with and without additional funding.
Track and Respond to Feedback
GUIDE CASE STUDY: Interactive workshops engaging stakeholders require time and effort to plan and implement. This project team at the Hudson River NERR held a day-long workshop to share project results and products with approximately 50 stakeholders including engineers, landscape architects, state permitting officials, and researchers.
Anticipate Challenges, Manage Proactively
GUIDE CASE STUDY: Collaborative science projects are designed to inform and catalyze action, but often those impacts do not develop until after a grant ends. Two project teams working with New England reserves found different ways to support the work of their partners after their grants ended.

GUIDE CASE STUDY: During the second year of their project, a team based at the Wells Research Reserve suffered the tragic loss of the lead science investigator. This individual had served as the Reserve's research coordinator for many years and possessed a deep reservoir of scientific knowledge about the local ecosystems on which the project was focused. In addition to the intense emotional impact, the loss of a respected researcher and team member posed a significant challenge to the project.

GUIDE CASE STUDY: Collaboration with diverse team members and stakeholders can sometimes result in disagreements or contention, as was the experience of the New England Climate Adaptation Project, a regional initiative involving the four New England reserves.
GUIDE RESOURCE: This action plan, which emerged through user engagement around the Great Bay Estuary, provides an example of how planning early for end-of-project transitions can successfully fuel future projects with partners.

Fine-Tune the Products

Plan Communication Efforts
GUIDE CASE STUDY: Understanding beliefs, perceptions, and values of end users increases the potential for reserve-based science to make the greatest impact on surrounding communities. A project led by the Wells Reserve used communication audit and mental mapping techniques to understand the collective beliefs about riparian buffers among reserve staff, their partners and stakeholders. Based on this research, they identified which communication and engagement strategies should be collectively prioritized.
Engage Users in Communications Work
GUIDE CASE STUDY: Sharing your work — even before the final results are analyzed — can lead to many unanticipated benefits, as the Bringing Wetlands to Market project team observed.
GUIDE CASE STUDY: Using language that resonates with stakeholders is critical to an effective exchange of information. See how a team at the Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve investigated and adopted the language preferences of their stakeholders in project-related communication.
Identify the Products That Will Meet a Need
GUIDE RESOURCE: This "homework assignment," which was given to attendees the week between two virtual workshop sessions, allowed a project team to gather specific feedback on the function and usability of a tool they were developing.