Don’t Move Firewood Outreach Interns, Natalie and Sean are back in action! They are travelling New York and New England – camped out at festivals and fairs – educating the public about how to keep America’s forests safe from invasive insects. Here’s the first chapter in their summer adventure!
Clearwater: Great Hudson River Revival – Overcoming the Outreach Hangover
by Natalie Garcia
Outreach is hard. Continuously relaying information and travelling long hours adds some wear and tear onto a summer. Needless to say, even after a year off from the Don’t Move Firewood campaign, Sean and I had a little bit of an outreach hangover – or as Sean described it, an unawareness of just how much work we would be doing and how much greasy, gross festival food we would be eating. Don’t get me wrong I am thrilled to be back, but an outreach hangover is no joke.
The first event was Clearwater: Great Hudson River Revival and I was eager to get the ball rolling. Our morning went as follows:
5:00am – Alarms goes off… “I’m getting too old for this”
5:30am – Somehow leave the house in one piece without forgetting anything
5:35am – Realize that absolutely nothing in the Berkshires (rural Western Massachusetts) is open at 5:35am
5:36am – post realization that I won’t be having any coffee – complain to Sean for the next 2 hours that I can’t believe that nothing is open*
As you can see, this was just the beginning of my now very large outreach hangover, but once I finally had some food and coffee I was determined to get over this hurdle. And Clearwater did not disappoint.
Over the two day event we were able to talk to more than 2,000 people about invasive pests, specifically the emerald ash borer (EAB) and the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB), and how carrying firewood with you when go camping or for any other reason can risk the health of forests and trees everywhere. Many of the festival attendees were aware of the issues, having heard us at events last year or from billboards and other PSAs. But there were many folks that we were able to talk to that hadn’t heard our message before, which is always fun, refreshing, and very exciting.
In addition to informing the people of Clearwater about invasive pests, I was able to hear a fantastic live swing band called Swingology, talk to some very cool and passionate individuals, and was not so disappointed by the fact that there was a great Indian food tent—not as greasy and gross as I thought!
So what’s the cure to an outreach hangover, you may ask? Other than having great co-workers to push you through it, enjoying the day, the people, and the events that we go to is a big part of effectively conveying an important message. Enduring Saturday’s rough morning was well worth the reward.
* Yes I’ve been spoiled by the Bronx; there are 24 hour establishments there.