As part of the strategic planning process in the Paulins Kill Watershed in northwestern New Jersey, the team applied a rapid stakeholder assessment to identify the benefits provided by nature to people, and to determine which groups of stakeholders are most likely to receive these benefits from nature in the watershed. Clean water, agriculture, recreation and economic development were among the many connections between people and nature were identified during the process. However, there remained a gap: how could the team design strategies that linked these connections more directly?
To answer this question, the first step was to host a workshop to share information about linkages between people and nature in the watershed and to inspire more collaboration among non-traditional partners. The goal of the workshop was to inspire and incentivize non-traditional partnerships around shared goals. The workshop, titled Farms, Forests and Rivers Workshop, took place in January 2015 and was attended by 140 participants. Partially funded by the US Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service, participants included landowners, farmers, conservation non-profits and municipalities. Economic development, tourism, agricultural and conservation leaders spoke about the connections across sectors.
In order to obtain data to help us improve future workshops, determine potential action items, look for opportunities of partner collaboration, and assess workshop success, the team developed an exit survey. Participants identified different themes around which they believed there was potential for new collaborations to develop because of this workshop. Participants also noted that they appreciated the workshop was local and easier to attend and that they learned about new funding sources via the funding panel at the workshop.