Online in the 21st Century: Texas Water Resources Institute examines online outreach for natural resource professionals

Participants during a past “Digital Now” event learning about how to tailor their online outreach to a changing digital landscape.

Meeting online is now firmly front and center for most research and outreach organizations and agencies. Whether natural resource professionals are battling the ramifications or embracing them, questions may still exist about how content from natural resource professionals can compete with other online content.

The Texas Watershed Planning Program — a project of the Texas Water Resources Institute , a unit of Texas A&M AgriLife — is hosting a two-day The Digital Now for Natural Resources Professionals: Online in the 21st Century meeting. The event aims to help prepare natural resources professionals to better utilize online outreach tools and strategies in their educational efforts.

The in-person event will be held Sept. 8 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sept. 9 from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at Texas A&M AgriLife Center at Dallas , 17360 Coit Road, Dallas, in the Water and Land Resources Building.

While members of the general public are welcome, this event is intended for a natural resource professionals audience.

Registration online or by sending this registration form through mail is required for this event. The total registration cost for the two-day event is $100. It includes course materials, certificate of course completion and lunch on the first day of the event. Participants must bring their own tablet, laptop or other computing device to participate.

Registration is requested by Aug. 31. Refunds will be available prior to Aug. 31, minus a $15 processing fee.

Changing with the digital times

Things about natural resources outreach have changed dramatically in design, writing standards and searchability said Nathan Glavy, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service program specialist for the Texas Water Resources Institute.

“In addition, smart devices have outsold desktops significantly in the last 10 years,” he said. “That means we have to continue to grow our expertise in learning how to connect the consumer to the important information we provide.”

This includes understanding how people find content, how conversations and learning networks start, how natural resources professionals can be discovered and what constitutes quality outreach.

“We have to know where to post, when to post and what to build on our websites,” Glavy said. “We have to learn how to reach our traditional clients as well as new clients. There are many successful models that can be used and applied in natural resource outreach and education that can help us down the road of discoverability.”

The event will be led by Amy Hays, adult education manager at the Noble Research Institute and former AgriLife Extension program specialist. Hays specializes in helping outreach professionals develop and evaluate educational programs and learning opportunities for agricultural audiences.

The theme of the first day will be “Digital Learning Strategies.” Content will be geared towards understanding how natural resource information is or could be consumed online using a learner-based approach

The theme of the second day will be “Getting Found with all the Noise.” The session will look at platforms natural resource professionals may want to form a presence on and how to tailor writing for some of the biggest platforms. It will offer various exercises to help attendees build good content.

For more information on event registration, contact Glavy at nathan.glavy@ag.tamu.edu or 979-458-5915.

The Texas Watershed Planning Program is managed by the Texas Water Resources Institute and funded through a Clean Water Act nonpoint source grant provided by the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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