Connecting Our Communities to State Parks

Updated: Aug 6, 2019


How to deliver a message.

As naturalists, we are frequently speaking in front of audiences, the California Naturalist Learning Program (CNLP) provided us support in strengthening our public speaking skills.

We first worked on delivering an elevator pitch that was formatted in a timeline of when we started as CNC Naturalist graduates then to how we advanced in other outdoor career development programs and internships with CNC or with other outdoor and environmental organizations and agencies. We expanded what we had in our elevator pitch into a PechaKucha 20x20 presentation, where we had 20 slides to deliver each in 20 seconds. We additionally incorporated how our early life experiences significantly shaped our first outdoor experiences. We also connected how these career development experiences have supported and have inspired our future and career aspirations. Some of us included the advocacy work we’ve done in policy to increase access in the outdoors. We closed up our presentation by highlighting how the California Naturalist Leadership Training helped us sharpen our naturalist skills.

Although we all felt challenged in delivering these presentation formats in a timely matter, it helped us improve our presentation skills when being timed. Not to mention, we all had fun and shared laughs as we practiced, not beating ourselves up when one of us got stuck or when we couldn’t remember our next point. This kind of practice definitely builds on our confidence as naturalist. We also feel a lot more prepared to present or talk about our relationship to the outdoors and how our experiences have shaped where we are today.

Writing an interpretive outline.

Before leading an interpretive program, we must design an outline first, a critical step that many of us were not too comfortable with. Therefore, learning how to plan and create an outline was extremely helpful when preparing for an interpretive program. We got the chance to come up with an interpretive outline while we visited Los Angeles Historic Park, coming up with ways of how to teach the history or activate the natural environment. We all got the chance to start an interpretive outline from start to finish. As a final step, we created our own interpretive programs as practice.

Learning how to do community outreach and how to apply it to reach new audiences.

As Community Naturalists, we learned that when we are doing outreach in the community, we are considering the mission of Community Nature Connection. Therefore, that means working alongside communities who are limited to green spaces or have no green spaces in their area. We all selected an electoral district in Los Angeles to work with. Then we reached out to an established organization working directly with these communities. Before we sought a potential partner, we also learned professional etiquette by going over emails in a work environment. We went over how to set up our work emails and how to respond, along with what not to do and what to be careful with. Once we found a potential partner in our selective districts we then moved on to contacting them in order to introduce who we are and what we do as an organization. We informed them that we were interested in collaborating on an outdoor interpretive program at a California State Park. We listened to their needs and found ways to offer programs that would meet their interests while connecting them to State Parks.

Takeaways from risk management in programs.

In the training we also covered risk management and its importance when running a program in the outdoors. We went over how to prepare before the start of a program to make sure we had the right materials and the proper information in case of an emergency. This means taking into consideration the weather and the potential hazards that can occur among many other factors. Preparing for an outdoor programs means also having a first-aid kit available during the program. This knowledge is extremely helpful for us to know since we are working with all ages in places with little or no signal at all. Preparing for an emergency beforehand allows us to have control in preventing a situation from worsening or even taking place. Knowing how to minimize risk is critical and high-priority when we are in the field.

In summary, the variety of training we received on delivering a message, writing an interpretive outline, approaching a community partner, and learning risk management have all been essential to enhancing our community naturalist skills. We put these skills to use as we each led our own programs at California State Parks.