Speaker Info

Caroline Donovan
Program Manager
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Integration and Application Network

Email: cdonovan@umces.edu


Caroline Donovan is the Program Manager for the Integration and Application Network (IAN) group at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. She oversees project management, communication coordination, and data analysis. Caroline has developed ecosystem health report cards in Chesapeake Bay and the Mississippi River Watershed, as well as regional report cards in Sandusky, Ohio and coastal Georgia. She has coordinated the development of standard indicators and methods for local watershed organizations in the mid-Atlantic, as well as facilitated the Mid-Atlantic Tributary Assessment Coalition group, which worked to implement ecosystem monitoring protocols.


Her research specialties include Science Communication, Integrated Assessment, and Coastal Ecology. Caroline obtained her academic training from University of North Carolina-Wilmington (B.S.) and 

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Seminar Abstract

Who’s willing to change their behaviors in the interest of Chesapeake Bay health? Limited by financial constraints, it may be ideal for watershed organizations to focus their stewardship and educational initiatives on actions most likely adopted by their constituents. The Bay Survey, hosted online between 2013-2015, asked participants questions about stewardship practices in and around their homes.  The survey found that more people are likely to plant a rain garden if provided with help financially; most people do not have a rain barrel, but those who do have them installed and hooked up; and, there is an equal likelihood people will install rain barrels as rain gardens at their home. These are just a few of the results that will be presented during this seminar. This presentation looks at the results of The Bay Survey in Maryland and compares the counties with the best return rates (Anne Arundel and Dorchester).

Seminar Transcript

>>Alright so I titled this this targeting behaviors around the Bay [Phonetics], where to aim and hopefully I will be able to answer that question by the end of the presentation, we will see. Also this is not just me, Steve Rob from OpinionWorks was a major partner in this and it was funded by ChesapeakeBay Trust, Casey Wetsil. And then we had a variety of people from EN doing the surveys and the analysis. So I, I want us to talk about social marketing campaigns in general and this not my, you know my usual expertise but I think it's really important to think about it for this particular project. I'll go over the survey and then the result of the survey and talk a little bit about impact data. So why give the survey? So you want to inform behavior selection for water shet, shed organizations. What does that really mean? It means we have these water shed groups, they go out and they say, hey guys! Let's pick up litter or hey! Let's reduce fertilizer on our lawn but don't really know whether or not the constituents in their neighborhoods and in their water shed are interested in that, right? If their likely to stop fertilizing their lawn and really what they're doing currently. So this survey can help target the behaviors that will actually work well in different water sheds. And allows for a return on investment consideration and so this another reason for these groups you know when there is limited resources and they need to show that they are really making a difference, this is a way to optimize that return on investment based on the funding that they get. So it demonstrates this need to funding agencies and stakeholders. Again, these water shed organizations are always looking for funding, it's very hard to get repetitive funding unless you have do's and things like that, so this is a really good way to highlight, Hey! We really need that money for to install rain barrels, for instance. So one thing that is barring us from Steve's presentation I'm engaging the public in stewardship. So this was asked in Maryland, can water pollution be fixed? and 85% of the people said, yes it can be fixed and there the original question was, when you think about pollution in our local waters do you think the problem can be fixed or is it too difficult?. So we know people think it's fixable and it's something that they're optimistic about. But where do we fall when it comes to actually doing behaviors and so what we have here is this curved line and most people fall under this help-me section. They actually they want to do something, they want to help but they don't know how, they just, they need some experts to help them do those things. You have these earlier adaptors and innovators, these people are already doing it, they are out there, they're the ones creating a more efficient rain barrel or more, you know more technology to help green their, their landscapes. And then you've got the people that are at the end the make me-group and those are only to ever going do it if they're regulated, right. So this middle group is kind of who we're targeting. However to ask as opposed to that, you need a lot of level investment to change behavior, you know, like I said, over here and over here you're going to have a lot of effort involved when talking to a small amount of the population, so what social marketing does is it lowers the level of investment that you need to get to the help-me group by doing a broad-spectrum approach. So what we wanted to look at it this with this project was the impact of a behavior on water quality and how much penetration which is also consider level of adoption in the community, and then what the likelihood that the public would adopt the behavior. So in some ideal world you have a behavior like installing a rain barrel that has a high impact on water quality. It's going to reduce nutrients and sediments going into the water plus maybe the penetration is low there's not that many rain barrels in the general community but the likelihood is high and so that will be a really ideal buy, behavior for these groups to target. So this survey it's still available online and you can take the survey if you haven't already its basesurvey.org [Phonetics], it is a branch survey where depending on how you answer the questions you get a number of different questions. For instance a lot of the behaviors which I will go over are targeted at homeowners and so if you're an apartment dweller you immediately kind of skip all those questions and only answer the questions about littering and household drain cleaners and stuff like that. So it's not, some people get all the questions and then some people get less questions. We actually did this in two study periods the first was online and the second was in mobile tablets at general public events and this was because during the first whole half of this survey, so keeping in my mind when I go through the results, the first half of this survey was biased towards groups that were already doing these behaviors. Because we are sending this out through our own Facebook and social media and list-serves and then working with these watershed organizations who were then sending it out to their members, you can see it's already kind of skewing in towards environmentally friendly behavior people who are already thinking about these things. So the second round we put it on a mobile tablet and we identified public events around Maryland that were you would get the general population and that included things like canvassing downtown Annapolis, canvassing downtown Silver Spring going to like 5K runs, to baseball game and things like that. So feel free to go online and check out the survey, I'm not going to go through everything. So these are behaviors there's a lot of them rain barrels, rain gardens, buffer vegetation along the stream ditch or water's edge, fertilizer use, conservation landscaping, so replacing grass lawn with conservation landscaping, what you do with the leaves that fall on hard surfaces like driveways and sidewalks, septic system upgrades, whether people pick up their pet waste, litter and then what goes down the drain?. And so each one of these questions was asked and there are several subset questions. So the total number of surveys from 2013 to 2015 was approximately 1100. The first year with web and email only we only had we had a little under 500 and then when we did the tablet and web and emailing, we did it all, we had about 650 and so just remembering the first half is kind of biased towards these answers. These numbers just include all answers even outside the Chesapeake water shed for whatever reason, people we are targeting Maryland but once you put it on social media it spread and people in Illinois and California decided they wanted to take the survey. So I'm going to show you one set of results and I have this information for all the behaviors if people are interested afterwards. So this is just 2015 data analyzed because I thought well if people answered the question 2013 and they had rain barrel they would probably be answering the same in 2015. So there are about 479 responses and the question was, "Do you have a rain barrel?" And you can see that very few people in Maryland have a rain barrel, and that there's a lot of people that could use a rain barrel but they don't have it. And of the people who did have a rain barrel most of them had it connected, which is the important point right? You can have arain barrel but it could sit in your shed for a whole year and it's not doing any good. So we were happy to see that at least the people had it most people were connected. So then we asked only the people that answered the question, No, I don't have a rain barrel", what is the likelihood that you will get a rain barrel in the future? And so what you have here is broken down by very likely, likely, unlikely and very unlikely and you can see that the likelihood is less than we would probably want right? And the unlikely is pretty high. We coded all of the answers by ZIP Code. We asked every single person what ZIP Code they were in and so that we can map these kinds of things on on the state of Maryland. Now remembering that these are now average results by ZIP Code, for instance 2 1 4 0 1 Annapolis we had many we had 15 or 20 answers and so these are all averaged into these the little ZIP Codes. So you can kind of see this spread here, you can see there's some great number of people that are likely to get a rain barrel up here and maybe not so much down in southern Maryland but these are again just kind of low numbers of obviously can see the spread of the data, we had a lot of information from this part of the western shore and then this part of the Eastern shore. And so what I did was I zoomed in on those two areas to really kind of compare them and check them out because it was where we had the most information. And so thinking broadly about a Severn area, Severn Magathane and South, you can see here the overall likelihood of installing a rain barrel is 30% here where we are, and in the Shoptalk it's 40% and it's like "Oh, it's more likely people are going to install rain barrels so maybe we need to focus our behaviors there." But what I did was I compared to, do you have a rain barrel? A lot of people already in the Severn actually have a rain barrel already and so the people that are being asked, what is the likelihood that you'll get it, are already kind of they probably been approached and are not interested as much. Whereas in the Choptank there is just a lot of potential right? There's not that many rain barrels to go with and so there's a higher likelihood that people would adopt it. So these are the kinds of information we can tease out from this survey. So that's just one example and what I'm going to go through is the high-level results for each behavior. So not unexpectedly there were very few rain gardens in place. A lot of people didn't really get what a rain gardens was in the true sense of, you know, the technical expertise and the the funding and stuff that you would need for it. We did try to provide definitions of this but even so some people answered yes and I just don't think that's they were very reliable answers. And so we asked a the two prong question, would they be likely to put in a rain garden in the future? And once they answer that question we asked "If you had funding and help with funding and installation, would you would you do it? Of course there was unlikely to have one but of course more people are likely if they got financial funding for it. Again few, very few rain barrels in place. If so they only had one despite multiple downspouts, I mean if we think of ourselves and our house I know I have one and I have two downspouts, get to get to that second one someday and then again like the we've just seen about 30% were unlikely to add one. Buffer vegetation along a stream or a ditch or a water's edge, this could be a tree, shrub or grass buffer and we asked them specifically, what kind of buffers they had? Everyone was likely to preserve their buffer if the buffer was there they were leaving it alone. However they're are very unlikely to plant a grass or tree buffer if they didn't have one. I don't know if this is a cost involved, I don't, we didn't ask the barriers to doing this, but it was a really low number that would that would, so the 22.5% is the likelihood. So the 22.5% were likely to plant a grass or tree buffer out of the 100 you know, percent of people that answered this question. So leaves again this is leaves on hard surfaces, so the most are not raking the leaves into the street. So one of the reasons, what we wanted to get was where these leaves are going and it's, it's you know you go outside and you see all the decomposing leaves on the street and they're going to end up in the storm drains. Most of that is because people is letting them fall where they lay and then the wind is blowing them into the street. So we are kind of happy to see that most people are not raking their leaves into the street and down the storm drain and that for the people that weren't already bagging or composting their leaves, they seem to be somewhat likely to bag or compost in the future. Conservation landscaping. So this is where you replace grass lawn with native plants, and most people were using native plants already, and if they were likely to replace more grass lawn in the future, they would use native plants. So I think this is one of those behaviors that it kind of, you don't think about it very often right were we always think about what, what a beautiful grass lawn we have and everything like that, but this may actually be a behavior that people would do and it's easy because they're already interested in using native plants. Fertilizer. Most people are not fertilizing are fertilizing infrequently and again remember we kind of, the results were kind of skewed, and so we, we're not as confident in this data as we would like to be but we do know no one is willing to stop altogether but somewhere but people are more likely to maybe only fertilize once in the fall or reduce the actual amount that they would put down by about 50%. So that was like good news. Septics. Most people pump out within the last three years, most people have not installed or replaced their septic system, and so most people are planning on pumping out for within the next three years. So people are pumping out, not necessary replacing or upgrading their septics, and that again is maybe an easier behavior,. I will say that the numbers for septics was really low, we were you know looking at the general population but if I were to ask this question again I would target areas that we know have septic systems. So you know getting more information I think will be helpful. Everybody picks up their dog's waste outsider their yard. You could focus on in-yard disposal but it's very unlikely that people are going to change the behavior and pick up their pet waste from their own yard. And then littering. People are littering but no one seems to know these people personally because, who knows what this is, if it's passive littering from the back of trucks and stuff like that or people throwing their cigarette butts out the window, but yet none of us know those people. So if a behavior were to be focused on I would focus on cigarette butts and food. A lot of people didn't realize they shouldn't be throwing food out the window. So briefly I'm just going to talk about impact data. Remember we wanted to talk about, yes what are people doing and what is the likelihood, but what behaviors are the most impact on reducing nutrients and sediment to the bay? And so what we did was we ran a simple on example using rain gardens with a smart tool and so Sarah Lean, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, have, helped us with this. But we had a lot of assumptions because our survey was not geared towards getting at the details, but anyway so the assumptions are, if a respondent has more than one rain garden then we assumed they had two. We assumed the drainage area, area for each rain garden was impervious surface. So that all the water from this area into rain garden was probably coming from the house and it was approximately roughly 500 sq. ft. And then rainfall is treated as 1 inch per rain garden and that's really typical in a number that's used pretty regularly because no one has detailed rainfall information. So this the total reduction of 14 pounds, 2 pounds of phosphorous and 1500 tss units. So not that much right? So this is just taking a number of rain gardens that people said yes they had in this survey, and that's what you got. These are really low numbers but what we're hoping would be that, you know, if you could scale that up to the whole state what would that really look like. So it was a really good practical use of the tool and it really got down to the numbers which is good but I would say it was really just an exercise to see how it would work and what we can do in the future with this. So next steps, I'm not going to talk about this too much but the Stewardship Goal Implementation Team is really taking this on. There has already a complete other section of the survey done by the Opinionworks Group, and I highly recommend looking at Steve's presentation, but the other thing that we're going to do is to the Stewardship Goal Implementation Team is have a focus this basesurvey.org survey for counties and even with HOA's. So this survey seems to do better at kind of the smaller scale, whereas like doing a phone survey really needs to happen for the state or watershed wide scale. So that the next steps for that. So I just want to say thanks and it was a really quick overview, but please contact me if you have more questions.

Seminar Discussion

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