Technical Report

Public Engagement with Science at Luquillo-Long-Term Ecological Research Program: Results from a Case Study

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  • The goals of this work are to a) understand community perspectives related to public engagement with science and the Luquillo Long Term Ecological Research (LUQ-LTER) program, b) enhance existing relationships within these communities, and c) illuminate opportunities for establishing new relationships between the LUQ-LTER program and its surrounding community. We share results from our case study that includes three methods of data collection: interviews with natural resource managers, a community conversation activity with 12 local community organizations, and a survey given at a public outreach event at El Portal de El Yunque. From interviews with natural resource managers, we learned they are looking for collaborations which directly benefit the resources they manage (forests, water, etc.), and they are also hoping for more formal communication structures between them and the LUQ-LTER. Sixty percent of the organizations at the Community Conversation shared that the most valuable outcome was learning that LUQ-LTER existed .All participants expressed interest in collaborating with the LUQ-LTER and said that LUQ-LTER’s long term ecological data could be beneficial for them to use and LUQ-LTER could be a productive context to share data they gather to heighten utility in all directions. From a survey given at the International Day of Forests Celebration, we learned that most people present at the activity came to the El Yunque National Forest to learn about the forest, spend time with family, or enjoy the forest. We also learned that during previous visits to El Yunque, they most commonly either day hiked or visited a geographical feature (waterfall or observation tower). When asked about which activities they would like to have happen in the future in El Yunque, most people indicated high levels of interest in having educational activities (like festivals or flora and fauna workshops), workshops or training on environmental issues, and night tours. The volunteer opportunities for which the most people indicated highest levels of interest were trail, camp, and related maintenance as well as fish and wildlife opportunities. Overall, everyone we talked to was interested in more collaboration and working together in the future, giving the LUQ-LTER program an excellent starting point for building stronger relationships with the community surrounding their site.
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