SNAMP PUB #15: Using Social Media to Involve the Public in Wildlife Research—the SNAMP Fisher Sock Collection Drive
Article Title: Using Social Media to Involve the Public in Wildlife Research—the SNAMP Fisher Sock Collection Drive.
Authors: S. Kocher, A. Lombardo, R. A. Sweitzer.
- An innovative social media project was organized by a University of California Cooperative Extension program representative as part of outreach work for the wildlife component of the Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Project.
- The study includes a camera survey where researchers use socks as a receptacle for hanging bait in view of motion-activated cameras.
- A sock drive was begun in November 2011 to collect sock donations.
- A Green blog was posted on the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources social media site in Dec 2011highlighting the sock drive.
- The response to the social media campaign was overwhelming, 282 packages were received at a cost of over $1,250 in postage, in the first 6 weeks.
- The biggest challenge was developing the local logistical support to deal with the overwhelming response and influx of donations.
This article reports on an innovative social media project organized by a local county-based University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) program in a rural community. UCCE, as part of a collaboration called the Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Project (SNAMP), is conducting outreach for a 7-year, $12 million study of the effects of forest thinning in national forests on wildlife, water, forest health, wildfire behavior, and public involvement (http://snamp.cnr.berkeley.edu)
One component of SNAMP’s wildlife study is a camera survey across a 500-square-mile area of the Sierra National Forest to determine the distribution of the Pacific fisher (Martes pennanti), a rare weasel. Researchers use socks as a receptacle for hanging bait in view of motion-activated cameras. Animals climb bait trees to chew on the bait while a camera takes digital images that allow scientists to identify them. SNAMP researchers use about 200 pairs of socks a month.
The sock drive began in November 2011 with the development of a humorous one-page flyer appealing for sock donations. The flyer and sock drop-off bins were distributed to local schools but when this approach yielded only a few hundred socks organizers decided to use social networking methods to widen the scope of the appeal. The sock drive appeal was posted on University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources social media sites, including the UC Green Blog, Facebook page, and Tweeter.
The response to the social media campaign overwhelmed our expectations. The UC Green Blog story received over 10,000 hits by January 30th 2012. The post led to interviews on four radio stations and articles in several California newspapers. Over 282 packages were received, at a cost of over $1,250 in postage, from over 22 states throughout the United States within the first 6 weeks and enough socks were collected to supply the fisher research project for the next 2 years.
The effort was successful at meeting the dual goals of donations to help support wildlife research while at the same time extending outreach to new non-local audiences across the state, region and nation. The major challenge caused by the success of the campaign was developing the local logistical support to deal with the overwhelming response and influx of donations
Kocher, Lombardo and Sweitzer. 2013. Using Social Media to Involve the Public in Wildlife Research-the SNAMP Fisher Sock Collection Drive. Journal of Extension 51(1): Article 1IAW3.