June 2015, Volume 19, Number 3



Casting Their Net to Win Hearts and Minds

Sometimes working to ensure environmental protection is all about communication. Take as an example the seeming dilemma of reconciling the concerns of environmental advocates with the needs of area anglers, who make their living on Biscayne Bay.

A select group of students sponsored by MDC’s Earth Ethics Institute considered just this quandary at the National Parks Conservation Association’s Civic Voice Lessons Workshop, a daylong event that taught participants messaging skills that can play a part in protecting vulnerable ecosystems. The interactive seminar took place at the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.

The Biscayne Bay impasse appears less thorny when one takes a closer look. For instance, a marine reserve zone free of harvesting serves to protect fish populations, which in turn is good for the fishing industry.

Saving Resources for Tomorrow

“The bay is an ecosystem that is heavily influenced by the amount of fishing and pollution affecting it,” said participant and MDC sophomore Kristal García, who is studying biology. “Though many anglers don’t enjoy the idea of having restrictions when fishing, they do not realize that these restrictions are essential to maintaining a proper fish population for the future.”

Thus, how one gets the word out is vital to winning hearts and minds for sound policies. During the workshop, the students honed brisk elevator pitches to quickly convey the mutual benefits of conservation efforts. They also learned presentation skills for more formal settings and participated in role playing with the National Parks representatives, who drilled them on how to best present their pitches.

The Fine Art of Advocacy

Gabriel Alvaro is an MDC sophomore who also attended the workshop.

“It was an opportunity to learn advocacy, communication and leadership skills by engaging in practical activities such as simulations,” he said.

García added, “It was a riveting event. We learned about the importance of our very own Biscayne Bay, and also how we could support the efforts to preserve it.”

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