Clean Water
Matters!

The diverse ecosystems, working
landscapes, and vibrant communities
that inspire and sustain us depend on
clean water. Learn about pollution
reduction strategies.

Healthy Habitats
Connect Us All

Lakeshores, stream banks, and wetlands are critical to clean
water and biodiversity. Learn about efforts to improve
habitat connectivity in the Basin ecosystem.

We Care for
What We Know

Recreation fosters stewardship of the Basin’s rich
natural and cultural heritage by connecting people
to the landscape while supporting local economies.
Learn about ways to explore the Basin.

Informed Citizens
Make Wiser Choices

Citizens who have an understanding and
appreciation of water resources make informed
choices about actions that might contribute to
pollution. Learn about education programs.

    About Us

    GOAL: Basin residents and visitors will understand and appreciate Lake Champlain Basin resources, and will possess a sense of personal responsibility that results in behavioral changes and actions to reduce pollution.

    The future of the Lake Champlain Basin rests in the hands of its citizens and leaders. For this reason, public information and outreach efforts have been a core function of the LCBP’s work since its establishment. Education and interpretation of both cultural and natural heritage have been a central component of the Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership’s work since its inception in 2006. The LCBP, the CVNHP, and its partners must continue and expand efforts to actively involve people in protecting and appreciating the resources of the entire Basin. Ultimately, a public that understands the Basin’s water quality and resource management problems as well as possible solutions can make informed choices about protection and restoration. Informing the public about how to change personal and collective behaviors and providing opportunities to change those behaviors are critical steps in reducing our impact on Lake Champlain.

    Developing this understanding and appreciation at an early age is critical in fostering stewardship of natural and cultural resources. Formal classroom learning in the classroom and field studies that are structured around a curriculum that integrates effective pedagogy and high quality watershed content will equip young citizens to make informed choices about their personal actions exploring the watershed. It will also create a multiplier effect as they share information and values with their parents, families, and other community members.

    The LCBP and its partners work directly with students through classroom programs and providing first-hand stewardship opportunities, and by training and providing resources to K-12 educators. The Champlain Basin Education Initiative (CBEI), a consortium of environmental and place-based education groups, continues to be a leader in watershed education in the Lake Champlain Basin. Through the Watershed for Every Classroom (WEC) program and annual professional development workshops, CBEI offers rich learning opportunities to teachers so that they might be better equipped to offer them to their students. CBEI has incorporated cultural heritage topics into WEC and its other programs, and will work to build this aspect of its offerings going forward.

    In addition to formal education efforts, the LCBP will continue to build awareness among all age groups of watershed issues through informal and less structured outreach. Central to this objective is the need to interpret technical information and management efforts. The first step to connecting people to the resource and encouraging behavior change is making the science of lake issues understandable to all citizens.

    A variety of techniques and forms of media—including face-to-face interpretation and development of exhibits and outreach materials in both print and electronic formats—help to achieve this objective. Mass media outlets such as television and radio can expand the reach of these messaging efforts to the 600,000 watershed residents. The effectiveness of these efforts is enhanced through collaboration with key partners who have similar communications goals and audiences, and who possess skill sets that complement LCBP capabilities.

    The State of the Lake and Ecosystem Indicators Report, the LCBP’s most prominent outreach piece, informs citizens about the Lake’s condition and provides an update to policy makers and elected officials. The LCBP Resource Room at ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain in Burlington is also a significant element of outreach efforts. Staff at the Resource Room reach as many as 29,000 of ECHO’s visitors (approximately 25% of total ECHO visitation) each year. Other key LCBP education and outreach efforts include the Love the Lake Speaker Series, WTPZ’s Champlain Connection, Radio Vermont’s “Get out on the Lake” PSA series, and the many fairs, festivals, and other public events where LCBP staff and partners interact with the public each year. Interpretation and partnership building are the CVNHP’s greatest strengths. The program has developed more than 300 wayside exhibits that forge connections between the public and the region’s natural and cultural resources.

    The most successful education and outreach efforts inspire and facilitate citizen action. By making available information about lake-friendly products and practices, and by supporting the efforts of local watershed organizations, marine operators, and other partners to involve the public in direct action, the LCBP can help promote positive stewardship behaviors. New technologies allow citizens to share information and values more quickly and easily than ever before. Employing these tools in social marketing efforts can help engender a shift in collective values around resource stewardship.

    Much of the work toward these objectives is accomplished most effectively by local watershed and river groups as well as other nonprofits and communities. As such, support for these organizations is critical to fully implementing this plan. Local implementation grants fund a variety of outreach projects and remain a high priority in the annual budget process.

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    Measures of Success

    Determining the outcomes of education and outreach efforts is significantly more challenging than it is for direct environmental management interventions such as phosphorus reduction projects or actions to prevent the spread of invasive species. The ultimate outcome of these efforts is behavior change. The on-the-ground impacts of specific projects that inform and involve the public are very difficult to determine, because once a program is delivered, the ability to follow up with participants or audiences is limited, particularly over the long term. While program-specific evaluations capture participants’ perceptions and intentions for future behavior, lasting behavior change takes some time to occur. Evaluations of outreach efforts are helpful in comparing their effectiveness, but identifying desired environmental outcomes for specific outreach tasks is not the most efficient method of tracking progress. Most assessments of environmental behavior change performance measures point to surveys as being the most effective means to evaluating broad-scale, long-term behavior change.

    Surveys that are consistently structured and administered at the beginning and end of the OFA implementation cycle will track and report on the environmental outcomes achieved by the outputs listed in the table below. The partnership approach that characterizes much of the LCBP’s education and outreach work is essential in carrying out these programs, but it also poses an additional challenge in evaluating outcomes. Any surveys must be conducted in concert with the same partners who collaborate in delivering programs. A survey of this nature would be broad in scope, in terms of geographic extent, range of issues, and demographics targeted.

    Long-term surveys will be complemented by evaluations of the specific programs listed as outputs. These evaluations help to gauge the effectiveness of these efforts, and allow comparisons of their relative merit that might then inform a strategic communications plan that lays out a road map for LCBP education and outreach efforts within the broader context of efforts conducted by partners, both with the LCBP and independently.

    Effective surveys require strong funding support. Like all task areas in the plan, a survey of the public’s understanding of the issues and behaviors that affect the watershed must be identified as a priority and supported as part of the annual budget process. Ideally this type of survey is conducted as part of a longitudinal study that looks at change over time. Annual budget tasks that fund surveys should take this into account, appropriating sufficient funds for long-term work.

    The Lake Champlain Steering Committee has identified a suite of priorities to reach the goal of informing and involving the public within the Lake Champlain watershed. LCBP will serve a role to meet each of these priorities:

    • Members of the public are better informed about watershed issues and are more likely to take stewardship actions that improve the condition of the Lake.
      The LCBP will work independently and in collaboration with management partners to deliver formal and informal education and interpretation programs, and to disseminate information in a variety of media, including print and electronic.
    • With a better understanding of the work and progress toward improvement of the Lake, citizens will be more supportive of the projects undertaken with public money to clean up and protect the Lake.
      LCBP will publish the State of the Lake and Ecosystems Indicator Report every three years, and will report on its activities and those activities of partners conducted in collaboration with the LCBP through a variety of media, including an annual report of activities.

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    Objectives

    Objective IV.A. Enhance formal learning at all educational levels

    Provide resources and opportunities for students to increase understanding of and appreciation for Basin resources, related threats, and priority actions needed to address them.

    NOTE: Task areas identified with ** denote task areas that should be targeted with LCBP funds. Other task areas may be more appropriate for other watershed management agencies or partners to support.

    Strategy Task Area Anticipated Output Outcome
    IV.A.1:
    Implement Programs for K-12 students
    **IV.A.1.a: School Programs

    Deliver classroom instruction that increase knowledge of watershed science among K-12 students
    Programs in 10 schools each year. Collectively, the task areas identified in this objective and the specific tasks supported as part of the annual budget process will achieve a long-term increase in the public’s knowledge of watershed issues and changes in personal behavior.

    Members of the public who are informed about watershed issues are more likely to take and/or encourage stewardship actions that either improve the Lake or decrease impacts.

    Better understanding of LCBP’s work and progress will also lead citizens to be more supportive of the projects undertaken with public money to clean up and protect the Lake.


    IV.A.1.b: Field Programs
    Conduct field-based instruction and activities that provide hands-on knowledge of watershed science among K-12 students.
    Programs with 3 schools each year.
    IV.A.2:
    Maintain and expand Digital/Online Tools and Resources (WatershED Matters, Atlas)
    IV.A.2.a: Web Outreach
    Redevelop web resources, Update design and content of existing web sites.
    Conduct annual review and update of online education resources for relevant content and appropriate application of current technologies.

    IV.A.2.b: Social Media
    Establish social media presence for education efforts.
    Engagement of CBEI/WEC participant and alum on social media sites.
    IV.A.3:
    Provide professional development for teachers
    **IV.A.3.a: Professional Development Trainings
    Deliver instruction in watershed content and pedagogy for K-12 teachers via CBEI and other workshops.
    WEC program offered on two-year cycle; two CBEI one-day workshops each year; 50 teachers reached annually, 5 instructional modules developed.

    IV.A.3.b: Curriculum Development
    Disseminate resources and curriculum materials developed as part of CBEI workshops and WEC programs.
    All resources and curriculum materials developed through CBEI programs are posted online.
    IV.A.4:
    Engage youth in stewardship opportunities
    IV.A.4.a: Community Service Projects
    Community service projects focused on water quality and ecosystem integrity in K-12 school.
    Implement community service projects in one school each year.

    IV.A.4.b: Youth Volunteer Programs
    Recruit youth in volunteer initiatives to conduct watershed restoration projects.
    One volunteer work day each year focused on youth.

    IV.A.4.c: Summer Youth Programs
    Deliver summer camp programs focused on hands-on water quality education and conservation practices.
    Three camps/ 100 campers each year.
    IV.A.5:
    Have a well-informed public that values the unique heritage of the CVNHP and understands the threats to those resources
    **IV.A.5.a:
    Connect, promote, and improve cultural and natural heritage sites through interpretation.
    Provide five CVNHP interpretation grants annually.
    **IV.A.5.b:
    Support the use of interpretive themes to link resources within the CVNHP.
    Focus funding on one of the CVNHP’s interpretive themes each year.
    IV.A.5.c:
    Promote cultural exchanges and international scholarship programs.
    Include this topic at the Annual International Summit.
    IV.A.5.d:
    Produce coordinated education programs for students.
    Incorporate the CVNHP themes into the CBEI programming.

    Objective IV.B. Build awareness through informal learning of Lake
    Champlain Basin issues across all age groups.

    Develop among residents and visitors an understanding of and appreciation for Basin resources, the related threats, and the priority actions needed to address them.

    NOTE: Task areas identified with ** denote task areas that should be targeted with LCBP funds. Other task areas may be more appropriate for other watershed management agencies or partners to support.

    Strategy Task Area Anticipated Output Outcome
    IV.B.1:
    Interpret technical information for the public
    **IV.B.1.a: Report on Condition of the Lake
    State of the Lake and Ecosystem Indicators Report
    Publish report on three-year cycle. Collectively, the task areas identified in this objective and the specific tasks supported as part of the annual budget process will achieve a long-term increase in the public’s knowledge of watershed issues and changes in personal behavior.

    Members of the public who are informed about watershed issues are more likely to take and/or encourage stewardship actions that either improve the Lake or decrease impacts.

    Better understanding of LCBP’s work and progress will also lead citizens to be more supportive of the projects undertaken with public money to clean up and protect the Lake.

    IV.B.1.b: Non-personal Interpretation Develop wayside and interpretive exhibits, brochures, fact sheets, and other print materials that explain watershed issues and concepts. Develop and install interpretive materials at one site every two years
    **IV.B.1.c: Personal Interpretation Deliver face-to-face, interactive interpretation with members of the public. Reach 30,000 people each year through Resource Room interactions, and 6-10 field-based outreach opportunities.
    IV.B.1.d: Public Presentations Deliver issue-specific presentations and demonstrations to foster public understanding and inspire action. 20 presentations each year
    **IV.B.1.e: Web/Electronic Outreach Produce video and other dynamic media for LCBP websites. Publish Casin’ the Basin e-news quarterly; sustained social media activity (10-15 posts per week).
    IV.B.1.f: Print Publications Design and develop print materials to inform public of issues and progress made by stakeholders to address issues. Report of activities published annually; other materials developed on as-needed basis.

    Objective IV.C. Facilitate changes in behavior and actions of citizens

    Develop programs that enable people to adopt behavioral changes that reflect a personal commitment to protecting and improving resources in the Basin.

    NOTE: Task areas identified with ** denote task areas that should be targeted with LCBP funds. Other task areas may be more appropriate for other watershed management agencies or partners to support.

    Strategy Task Area Anticipated Output Outcome
    IV.C.1:
    Promote hands-on citizen action
    IV.C.1.a: Web/Social Media outreach
    Connect citizens with local organizations’ volunteer programs.
    Volunteer opportunity of the month. Collectively, the task areas identified in this objective and the specific tasks supported as part of the annual budget process will achieve a long-term increase in the public’s knowledge of watershed issues and changes in personal behavior.

    Members of the public who are informed about watershed issues are more likely to take and/or encourage stewardship actions that either improve the Lake or decrease impacts.

    Better understanding of LCBP’s work and progress will also lead citizens to be more supportive of the projects undertaken with public money to clean up and protect the Lake.

    IV.C.2:
    Promote lake-friendly products and practices
    IV.C.2.a: Outreach materials
    Produce web content and print materials that describe lake-friendly products and practices.
    Review web content annually for relevance; produce print materials as need/opportunities are identified.
    IV.C.3:
    Promote engagement among and between citizens
    IV.C.3.a: Social Marketing
    Implement social marketing techniques to foster sharing of information and stewardship ethic.
    One social marketing initiative per OFA cycle.
    **IV.C.3.b: Citizen Media Competition
    Implement a photo/video contest with a content sharing mechanism.
    One contest within OFA cycle.
    IV.C.4:
    Assess changes in the public’s knowledge and behavior
    IV.C.4.a: Public Survey
    Conduct long-term surveys to track long-term changes in the public’s knowledge and behavior, and effectiveness of LCBP E&O efforts.
    Surveys conducted at the beginning and end of OFA cycle.

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    Lake Champlain Basin Program

    Lake Champlain Basin Program
    54 West Shore Road
    Grand Isle, VT 05458
    800-468-5227 (NY & VT)
    or 802-372-3213