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Exploring Written Communication Techniques for Complex Natural Resource Issues

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0022328/00001

Material Information

Title: Exploring Written Communication Techniques for Complex Natural Resource Issues
Physical Description: 1 online resource (95 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Oxarart, Annie
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2008

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: bias, communication, energy, interestingness, motivation, perceptions, wood
Forest Resources and Conservation -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Forest Resources and Conservation thesis, M.S.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: Many natural resource issues are increasingly complex and multi-faceted, and solutions may not be readily apparent. Increasing public understanding and encouraging public involvement is assumed to create more successful solutions to natural resource problems. However, citizens are often overwhelmed with information, may feel helpless to make a difference, and may perceive issues to be irrelevant or distant. Written communication is an easily accessible, familiar option to aid in increasing public awareness and knowledge. It may also be a useful strategy to help motivate citizens to become further involved in the issue. The purpose of this research was to explore effective written communication strategies for informing and motivating citizens about the option of using wood to generate energy?a complex, technical, and controversial natural resource issue. To gain in-depth understanding, focus groups were used to review written text that was developed for this research. The text explains the issue of using wood for energy, aims to motivate citizen involvement, and incorporates interesting text characteristics. Three research questions were addressed in the focus groups. Using written, informative, interesting text that explains the option to use wood for energy and aims to motivate citizen involvement: (1) how do citizens perceive the information about using wood for energy, (2) how do citizens perceive the characteristics of interesting text, and (3) how does the text affect citizens? motivation to become involved? Three focus groups, n=16, were conducted in Gainesville, Florida with citizens who are interested and/or involved in community issues. Participants were mostly female, educated, and over 50 years old. In general, the participants were environmentally concerned. Data analysis of the focus group transcriptions resulted in five themes that address the research questions. Three themes address the first research question concerning how citizens perceive written text about using wood for energy: mistrust, the right information, and balance of information. The second and third research questions are addressed by two themes: perceptions of interesting text and motivation for involvement. The use of interesting text helped the participants consider the technical information, and the vivid and concrete examples provided the participants with meaningful and relevant information. In addition, many participants were motivated to become further involved in the issue and could imagine themselves taking part in comfortable and informal actions. However, mistrust, misconceptions, and perceptions of bias remain barriers to communicating the issue of using wood for energy through text. Unfortunately, the characteristics of written text that increase interest may also unwittingly increase perceptions of bias. These results suggest that for complex issues similar to using wood for energy and when communicating with a similar audience, communicating and educating through written text is challenging. It should not be the sole outreach effort and may not be the first. Recommendations for improving written text based on the focus group discussions are provided.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Annie Oxarart.
Thesis: Thesis (M.S.)--University of Florida, 2008.
Local: Adviser: Monroe, Martha C.
Electronic Access: RESTRICTED TO UF STUDENTS, STAFF, FACULTY, AND ON-CAMPUS USE UNTIL 2010-08-31

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2008
System ID: UFE0022328:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0022328/00001

Material Information

Title: Exploring Written Communication Techniques for Complex Natural Resource Issues
Physical Description: 1 online resource (95 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Oxarart, Annie
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2008

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: bias, communication, energy, interestingness, motivation, perceptions, wood
Forest Resources and Conservation -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Forest Resources and Conservation thesis, M.S.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: Many natural resource issues are increasingly complex and multi-faceted, and solutions may not be readily apparent. Increasing public understanding and encouraging public involvement is assumed to create more successful solutions to natural resource problems. However, citizens are often overwhelmed with information, may feel helpless to make a difference, and may perceive issues to be irrelevant or distant. Written communication is an easily accessible, familiar option to aid in increasing public awareness and knowledge. It may also be a useful strategy to help motivate citizens to become further involved in the issue. The purpose of this research was to explore effective written communication strategies for informing and motivating citizens about the option of using wood to generate energy?a complex, technical, and controversial natural resource issue. To gain in-depth understanding, focus groups were used to review written text that was developed for this research. The text explains the issue of using wood for energy, aims to motivate citizen involvement, and incorporates interesting text characteristics. Three research questions were addressed in the focus groups. Using written, informative, interesting text that explains the option to use wood for energy and aims to motivate citizen involvement: (1) how do citizens perceive the information about using wood for energy, (2) how do citizens perceive the characteristics of interesting text, and (3) how does the text affect citizens? motivation to become involved? Three focus groups, n=16, were conducted in Gainesville, Florida with citizens who are interested and/or involved in community issues. Participants were mostly female, educated, and over 50 years old. In general, the participants were environmentally concerned. Data analysis of the focus group transcriptions resulted in five themes that address the research questions. Three themes address the first research question concerning how citizens perceive written text about using wood for energy: mistrust, the right information, and balance of information. The second and third research questions are addressed by two themes: perceptions of interesting text and motivation for involvement. The use of interesting text helped the participants consider the technical information, and the vivid and concrete examples provided the participants with meaningful and relevant information. In addition, many participants were motivated to become further involved in the issue and could imagine themselves taking part in comfortable and informal actions. However, mistrust, misconceptions, and perceptions of bias remain barriers to communicating the issue of using wood for energy through text. Unfortunately, the characteristics of written text that increase interest may also unwittingly increase perceptions of bias. These results suggest that for complex issues similar to using wood for energy and when communicating with a similar audience, communicating and educating through written text is challenging. It should not be the sole outreach effort and may not be the first. Recommendations for improving written text based on the focus group discussions are provided.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Annie Oxarart.
Thesis: Thesis (M.S.)--University of Florida, 2008.
Local: Adviser: Monroe, Martha C.
Electronic Access: RESTRICTED TO UF STUDENTS, STAFF, FACULTY, AND ON-CAMPUS USE UNTIL 2010-08-31

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2008
System ID: UFE0022328:00001


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EXPLORING WRITTEN COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUES FOR COMPLEX NATURAL
RESOURCE ISSUES





















By

ANNIE OXARART


A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF SCIENCE

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

2008



































2008 Annie Oxarart









ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This thesis is the result of many people's time and energy. I give special thanks to my

committee chair, Dr. Martha Monroe, for her continued guidance, encouragement, and kindness.

She is an inspiration both professionally and personally, and I have truly appreciated this

opportunity to work with her. To my committee, Dr. Taylor Stein and Dr. Tracy Irani, thank you

both for guiding my research and graduate studies.

I thank my husband, Taylor, who has been dedicated to helping me every step of the way.

His continual love and support has kept me going throughout the past two years. To my parents,

thank you for loving me unconditionally, trusting my decisions, and encouraging me to dream

big. Along with my family and friends, they have helped me become the person I am today.

This journey would not have been the same without meeting new friends and colleagues at

the School of Forest Resources and Conservation. Special thanks go to my friends in the

Environmental Education and Ecotourism Lab for offering thoughtful advice and creating a

positive and fun work environment.

Finally, I thank the USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station, Centers for Urban

and Interface Forestry for funding this research through a cooperative agreement with the School

of Forest Resources and Conservation, University of Florida. I offer sincere thanks to the focus

group participants, expert article reviewers, and to all others who assisted with this research. I

especially thank Lindsey McConnell for her assistance with the focus groups and transcriptions.

Without their efforts, this research would not have been possible!









TABLE OF CONTENTS



A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S ...............................................................................................................3

L IS T O F T A B L E S ................................................................................................. ..................... 6

ABSTRACT ....................................................... .......................7

CHAPTER

1 INTRODUCTION .................. ................... .. ........... ...................................... ...9

Statement of Problem ................................ .. .......... .................................... 12
Research Questions ................................. ........... ............................... 13
Issue Focus: W ood to Energy ...................... ............................................................... 14

2 USING WRITTEN TEXT TO INFORM THE PUBLIC ABOUT WOOD TO ENERGY
O P T IO N S ..................................................................................................... ..................... 16

L ite ratu re R ev iew ...................... ..... ......................................................................................17
Perceptions and Knowledge of W ood for Energy ...................................... ............... 17
E ducating about C om plex Issues....................................... ...................... ............... 19
M e th o d s ............................................................................................................... .. ............2 3
R results and D iscu ssion .................................................... ............................................... 26
T h e m e : M istru st...............................................................................................................2 8
Them e: The R ight Inform ation........................................ ........................ ................ 30
Them e: B balance of Inform ation........................................ ....................... ................ 32
C o n clu sio n s............................................................................................................ ........ .. 3 4

3 INFORMING AND MOTIVATING CITIZENS ABOUT COMPLEX NATURAL
RESOURCE ISSUES THROUGH INTERESTING TEXT .............................................38

L ite ratu re R ev iew ...................................................................................................................3 9
M e th o d s ........................................................................................................ ..................... 4 5
A article D ev elopm ent ...... ... ...... ........ ............................................................ .... ..4 5
D ata Collection and A analysis .................. ............................................................. 46
R results and D iscu ssion .................................................... ............................................... 4 8
Them e: Perceptions of Interesting Text ....................... .......................................... 48
Them e: M otivation for Involvem ent ....................... ............................................... 51
C o n c lu sio n ................................................................................................... ..................... 5 4

4 CONCLUSION......................................................... ........................... 58

K ey R research F finding s .................................................... ............................................... 58
R ecom m endations for Practice ..................... ............................................................... 59
F u tu re R e se a rc h ......................................................................................................................6 1


4









APPENDIX

A WOOD TO ENERGY ARTICLE ...............................................................................63

A rtic le ............................................................................................................ ........ . ....... 6 3
Interesting T ext V aviation .................................................... ............................................. 68

B E X P E R T R E V IE W .................................................................................................................6 9

C FOCUS GROUP RECRUITEMENT PROCESS..............................................................73

Organizations Contacted for Participant Recruitment.......................................................73
Flyer for P articipant R ecruitm ent .......................................... ......................... ................ 73
L better M ailed to Interested V volunteers ...................................... ..................... ................ 74
Interested V volunteer Questionnaire ................. ............................................................ 75

D IR B P R O T O C O L .................................................................................................................... 76

P rotocol A approval L better .................................................. .............................................. 76
L better of Inform ed C consent .................................................. ............................................ 77

E WORKSHEET....................................... .. ........... ............................... 79

F IN TER V IEW G U ID E ............................................................................................. 80

G DATA M ATRIX .............................................. .......... .............. ............... 83

L IST O F R EFE R E N C E S ............................................................................................. 91

B IO G R A PH IC A L SK E T C H .............. ...................................................................... 95









LIST OF TABLES

Table page

1-1 Public engagement levels and communication channels ............................................. 11

2-1 Sum m ary of focus group recruitm ent ........................................................... ................ 25

B -1 Text characteristics for expert review ........................................................... ................ 70

B-2 Paragraph characteristics for expert review..................................................................72

G -1 D ata m atrix used in analysis ..................................................................... ................ 83









Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science

EXPLORING WRITTEN COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUES FOR COMPLEX NATURAL
RESOURCE ISSUES

By

Annie Oxarart

August 2008

Chair: Martha C. Monroe
Major: Forest Resources and Conservation

Many natural resource issues are increasingly complex and multi-faceted, and solutions

may not be readily apparent. Increasing public understanding and encouraging public

involvement is assumed to create more successful solutions to natural resource problems.

However, citizens are often overwhelmed with information, may feel helpless to make a

difference, and may perceive issues to be irrelevant or distant. Written communication is an

easily accessible, familiar option to aid in increasing public awareness and knowledge. It may

also be a useful strategy to help motivate citizens to become further involved in the issue. The

purpose of this research was to explore effective written communication strategies for informing

and motivating citizens about the option of using wood to generate energy-a complex,

technical, and controversial natural resource issue.

To gain in-depth understanding, focus groups were used to review written text that was

developed for this research. The text explains the issue of using wood for energy, aims to

motivate citizen involvement, and incorporates interesting text characteristics. Three research

questions were addressed in the focus groups. Using written, informative, interesting text that

explains the option to use wood for energy and aims to motivate citizen involvement: (1) how do

citizens perceive the information about using wood for energy, (2) how do citizens perceive the









characteristics of interesting text, and (3) how does the text affect citizens' motivation to become

involved? Three focus groups, n=16, were conducted in Gainesville, Florida with citizens who

are interested and/or involved in community issues. Participants were mostly female, educated,

and over 50 years old. In general, the participants were environmentally concerned. Data analysis

of the focus group transcriptions resulted in five themes that address the research questions.

Three themes address the first research question concerning how citizens perceive written

text about using wood for energy: mistrust, the right information, and balance of information.

The second and third research questions are addressed by two themes: perceptions of interesting

text and motivation for involvement. The use of interesting text helped the participants consider

the technical information, and the vivid and concrete examples provided the participants with

meaningful and relevant information. In addition, many participants were motivated to become

further involved in the issue and could imagine themselves taking part in comfortable and

informal actions. However, mistrust, misconceptions, and perceptions of bias remain barriers to

communicating the issue of using wood for energy through text. Unfortunately, the

characteristics of written text that increase interest may also unwittingly increase perceptions of

bias. These results suggest that for complex issues similar to using wood for energy and when

communicating with a similar audience, communicating and educating through written text is

challenging. It should not be the sole outreach effort and may not be the first. Recommendations

for improving written text based on the focus group discussions are provided.









CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

As the demands placed on natural resources and environmental systems continue to

increase, many communities are faced with an expanding collection of environmental issues.

Natural resources issues and decision-making processes no longer have simple solutions and tend

to involve the consideration of environmental, economic, and social factors. From decisions

about landfill site permits to those concerning renewable sources of energy, each decision

involves several factors, different perspectives, and difficult tradeoffs. Some natural resource

issues result in divisive situations within communities, where finding satisfactory solutions is

timely and costly (Wondolleck & Yaffee, 2000). For example, in Massachusetts, seven years of

opposition to a proposed offshore wind farm has been named the "Seaside Civil War" and has

cost both sides several million dollars (Cape Wind, 2007).

Citizen involvement in the decision-making process is often perceived to create more

democratic and effective solutions (Irvin & Stansbury, 2004; Wondolleck & Yaffee, 2000).

Citizen participation allows policies and regulations to reflect citizen values and can help create

public support for decisions. While collaborative efforts for resource management are increasing,

the public is becoming less engaged in participatory processes (Wondolleck & Yaffee, 2000).

Most people have little time to spare to become part of a lengthy process to resolve an issue they

know little about. In addition, getting the public motivated to become involved in natural

resource decisions can be a difficult task, especially when the issues are perceived as distant and

unimportant or when the public is complacent with current environmental situations (Irvin &

Stansbury, 2004).

Building on this situation is the lack of American's environmental knowledge; most of the

public do not understand or are misinformed about environmental issues (Coyle, 2005). While 50









to 70% of Americans are aware of most environmental subjects (e.g., pollution, habitat loss), a

very small percentage, estimated at 1 to 2%, have enough knowledge and skills to be considered

environmentally literate (Coyle, 2005). In fact, only one in three Americans can pass a basic

environmental knowledge quiz (Coyle, 2005). When the public has little understanding of the

issues, their opinions are usually inconsistent and based on emotional responses rather than

informed public judgment (Yankelovich, 1991). Informed public judgment is a form of "public

opinion that exists once people have engaged an issue, considered it from all sides, understood

the choices it leads to, and accepted the full consequences of the choices they make"

(Yankelovich, 1991, 6). These types of opinions are likely to be carefully considered, long-

lasting, and valuable to decision-makers (Friedman et al., 1999; Yankelovich, 1991). By acting

on informed judgments versus raw opinions and through effective participatory processes, the

public can help create acceptable solutions to environmental issues.

Environmental educators and natural resource Extension agents are key players in helping

communities consider solutions to complex issues. The commonly accepted goal of

environmental education is "to develop a world population that is aware of and concerned about

the total environment and its associated problems, and which has the knowledge, attitudes,

motivations, commitments, and skills to work individually and collectively toward solutions of

current problems and the prevention of new ones" (UNESCO, 1975, 3). The Cooperative

Extension Service is also an important provider of research-based education and communication

about natural resources, agriculture, environmental topics, and community development. As

topics have become more complex, educators have developed new techniques to meet the

public's needs. For example, public issues education is a helpful framework for communicating

and educating the public about controversial issues (Dale & Hahn, 1994).









Educators can engage the public in natural resource issues using a variety of outreach

techniques. Outreach techniques are chosen by educators based on program goals, audience

needs, and available time and resources (Jacobson et al., 2006). The literature often divides

outreach techniques into two main communication channels or delivery methods, based on the

flow of information: one-way (or mass media) communications and interactive (or interpersonal)

communications (Rogers, 1995; Toman et al., 2006). Rowe and Frewer (2005) also use

information flows to divide the concept of public engagement into three categories: public

communication, public consultation, and public participation. Table 1-1 shows how

communication channels and levels of public engagement can describe various outreach

techniques.

Table 1-1. Public engagement levels and communication channels.
Levels of public Communication Information Example outreach techniques
engagement channels flow
Public communication One-way Source to the Brochures, TV or radio,
audience documentaries, fact sheets,
feature stories, flyers,
bulletins, informational
displays, newsletter
Public consultation One-way Audience to Opinion polls, needs assessments,
the source letter to the editor, comment
periods
Public participation Interactive Between Community forums, citizen
source and advisory boards, discussion
audience groups, study circles, guided
walks, demonstrations,
workshops, informal
conservation
(Jacobson et al., 2006; Rogers, 1995; Rowe and Frewer, 2005; Toman et al., 2006)

Educators often use a mixture of delivery methods and techniques to achieve different

program goals. For example, a one-way delivery method, such as feature story in a newspaper or

magazine, may be used to raise issue awareness, but an interactive delivery method, such as a

community forum, would be needed to ensure understanding and engage the public in









participatory processes. While one-way communications can efficiently reach many people,

interactive communication is more effective at ensuring the audience understands the

information, forming or changing attitudes, persuading someone to accept a new idea, and

creating effective public participation (Rogers, 1995; Toman et al., 2006; Wondolleck & Yaffee,

2000). To fully create informed public judgment, people should be engaged in interactive and

deliberative learning opportunities (Yankelovich, 1991). However, one-way communication is

useful in the first stage of the process-raising consciousness. This stage consists of not only

providing information to raise issue awareness and understanding, but also raising public

concern. After a person is aware and concerned about an issue, they can become active in the

next two stages, working through and resolution (Yankelovich, 1991).

Statement of Problem

Written materials, such as brochures, informational fact sheets, and pamphlets are often

used to raise awareness and increase understanding because they are easy to disseminate to large

audiences and relatively inexpensive (Jacobson et al., 2006; Rodewald, 2001). For example, the

University of Florida's online database of Extension publications disseminates over 10 million

print and electronic educational products each year (University of Florida, 2008). Written

materials are also familiar to most audiences and can be used at their convenience (Jacobson et

al., 2006). Perhaps for these reasons, Extension agents, natural resource professionals, and

landowners have been found to prefer receiving information through printed materials, such as

fact sheets (Howell and Habron, 2004; Rodewald, 2001).

However, studies have shown that written materials are not always as effective as

educators intend. A recent evaluation of informational brochures, regarding wildlife and

conservation, in southern California found that residents who received a brochure in the mail had

only minor statistical differences of knowledge and perceptions compared to residents who did









not receive the brochure (George & Crooks, 2006). While the color brochure was specifically

designed for these residents, who live in the wildland-urban interface, only 21% of those who

received the brochure recalled receiving it seven months later (George & Crooks, 2006). In

addition, an evaluation of 11 fire outreach techniques in the western United States found that

while more participants were exposed to one-way delivery methods than interactive delivery

methods, less than half of the participants who had experience with the one-way methods

(ranging from 29 to 47%) rated them as very helpful (Toman et al., 2006). Finally, Kearney

(1994) suggests that when environmental issues are large-scale and abstract, such as global

climate change, providing technical information that does not relate to people's daily experiences

is not effective at creating public understanding and solutions to the problem.

Despite the need to improve their effectiveness, written materials remain an important part

of public communication and education about the environment and natural resources. To raise

issue consciousness, the public may need information that is easily accessible, uses familiar

media, and invites public engagement. Among other communication characteristics, text that is

interesting, imaginable, and relates to the reader's existing knowledge allows technical

information to be understood in a meaningful and memorable manner (Kearney, 1994). In

addition, Young and Witter (1994) suggest that environmental brochures that are high in

communication effectiveness (text characteristics assumed to improve readers' interest in and

understanding of written information) are most useful for increasing knowledge among readers.

Thus, a better understanding about the use of effective communication characteristics in written

text and how the public perceives written text about complex natural resource issues is needed.

Research Questions

This research explores effective written communication strategies for informing and

motivating citizens about the option of using wood to generate energy-a complex, technical,









and controversial natural resource issue. The objective of this research is to determine how to

increase the effectiveness of written text to both explain a natural resource issue and involve the

public in the issue. To gain in-depth understanding, focus groups were used to answer three

research questions. Using written, informative, interesting text that explains the option to use

wood for energy and aims to motivate citizen involvement: (1) how do citizens perceive the

information about using wood for energy, (2) how do citizens perceive the characteristics of

interesting text, and (3) how does the text affect citizens' motivation to become involved?

Issue Focus: Wood to Energy

The option to use wood to generate energy is a complex and often controversial issue that

presented an opportunity to investigate the research questions of this thesis. Many energy

facilities are trying to expand their renewable energy portfolios, and communities are making

decisions about which renewable sources of energy are available and appropriate to utilize. In

areas with an increasing population, demands for additional energy, and nearby forests, wood

might be an option to generate heat, power, or electricity. Decisions about which fuel sources

should be used for generating energy and how forests should be managed are complicated. Key

stakeholders, including the public, often have different ideas about which decision is best. In

addition, a lack of public awareness and knowledge surrounds the issue of using wood for

energy, and misconceptions are common (Monroe et al., 2007). Thus, the need for public

education and community discussions about using wood for energy is apparent.

This research uses written outreach materials from the Wood to Energy Outreach Program,

which is designed to facilitate discussions about using woody biomass to generate energy in

wildland urban interface (WUI) communities of the southeast United States (Monroe et al.,

2007). This combined research and Extension program contains a variety of fact sheets, case

studies, and community economic profiles for woody biomass outreach. Selected written









materials were compiled, condensed, and modified into one written document, which was used in

focus groups to address the research questions.

The subsequent chapters address the thesis research questions in journal article format.

Chapter 2 investigates how citizens perceive information in written text that explains the option

to use wood for energy and aims to motivate citizen involvement. Chapter 3 addresses how

citizens perceive the use of interesting text and their motivation to become involved in the issue.

Finally, Chapter 4 concludes with a discussion of key research findings, recommendations for

practice, and future areas of research. This research contributes to expanding the knowledge of

community outreach techniques, effective written communication, and public involvement in

natural resource and energy decisions.









CHAPTER 2
USING WRITTEN TEXT TO INFORM THE PUBLIC ABOUT WOOD TO ENERGY
OPTIONS

As communities search for renewable resources to meet their energy needs, wood may be a

potentially viable resource in areas with nearby sources of woody biomass. Similar to other

environmental issues, the decision of whether or not to use wood to generate energy is complex.

The stakeholders, including industries, community leaders, and the public may have different

perspectives about advantages and disadvantages of fuel sources. Citizen involvement is

typically perceived to be an important part of creating acceptable resource plans and solutions

(Irvin & Stansbury, 2004; Wondolleck & Yaffee, 2000). However, a lack of public awareness

and knowledge surrounds the issue of using wood for energy (Monroe et al., 2007). Without

better understanding, public opinions are often based on preconceived ideas and emotions

(Yankelovich, 1991). In contrast, informed public judgment is a type of opinion that occurs when

the public thoroughly considers an issue and potential solutions. These opinions tend to be more

stable and can be meaningful to decision makers. For citizen involvement to be effective and to

begin creating informed public judgment, the public first needs to be aware of the issue, better

understand the factors involved, and motivated to become involved (Yankelovich, 1991).

The Cooperative Extension Service plays an important role in providing research-based

education and communication about natural resources, agriculture, and other environmental

topics. Many of the environmental situations facing communities today are complicated

controversial issues, with multiple perspectives. Communicating and educating the public about

these issues can be a difficult task, one that Extension has recognized by developing strategies

for public issues education (Dale & Hahn, 1994). Many Extension programs use written text,

(e.g., fact sheets, brochures, bulletins) to communicate with audiences; written text can reach

large audiences and is easily accessible and familiar to the public (Jacobson et al., 2006).









However, Extension publications tend to be written in an academic style that may not be

interesting or motivating to an audience that is not already seeking information on the topic. In

addition, when issues are complex and involve diverse perspectives, traditional styles of written

communication may not be adequate. To attract audiences to a topic, help them understand the

issue, and motivate them to become engaged, a different type of written text may be needed. The

purpose of this research was to examine the strategy of using interesting and informative written

text to communicate and educate the public about the option of using wood to generate energy.

Specifically, focus groups were used to gain in-depth understanding of the following research

question: using written text that is informative, interesting, and aims to motivate citizen

involvement, how do citizens perceive information about using wood for energy?

The written text reviewed by focus group participants was specifically designed for this

research by compiling information from existing written materials from the Wood to Energy

Outreach Program. This integrated research and Extension program was designed to promote

public engagement in woody biomass energy decisions (Monroe et al., 2007). The written text

accomplished its goal of sharing information about using wood for energy, but themes expressed

in all three focus groups highlight the challenges of creating written materials for the public on

controversial issues. This article focuses on these concerns to help others overcome similar

challenges.

Literature Review

Perceptions and Knowledge of Wood for Energy

Energy decisions, including what types of fuel sources to use for energy and the

consideration of wood as a renewable source of energy, are complex. Because energy decisions

affect the environment, economy, and society, many stakeholders are involved. These

stakeholders often have differing viewpoints, values, and ideas about the "best" solution. In some









situations, a lack of public support has led to renewable energy proposals coming to a standstill.

Upreti (2004, 785) states that "public opposition is one of the major obstacles to promote

biomass energy." For example, in the United Kingdom, a proposed wood-to-energy project was

halted due to citizen opposition (Upreti & van der Horst, 2004). An in-depth investigation found

that public mistrust was the main cause of public rejection of the wood-to-energy project. In

addition, the public was unfamiliar with biomass energy, which may have led to the opposition

(Upreti & van der Horst, 2004). Indeed, the public has little trust for government agencies and

big businesses, and mistrust is often expressed by the public as skepticism and fear (Wondolleck

& Yaffee, 2000).

Mixed opinions about the use of wood for energy were found in a recent survey of

residents in Alachua County, Florida (Monroe et al., 2007). Slightly less than one-third of

respondents, or 31%, had negative feelings toward the use of wood for energy, while 41% of

respondents were neutral, and 27% had positive feelings. The majority, 54.5%, of respondents

considered themselves "not at all knowledgeable" about the issue and was confused about the

advantages and disadvantages of wood compared to fossil fuels (Monroe et al., 2007).

Nationwide, only one in eight Americans, or 12%, can pass a basic energy quiz, consisting of 10

questions based on information that an average person would likely come across in the media

(NEEFT, 2002). In addition, these respondents believed they knew more about energy than they

actually did. This national survey also revealed that most people feel that energy education

should be increased in schools and by private and governmental institutions (NEEFT, 2002).

This type of situation where the public has limited knowledge and mixed opinions can serve as

opportunities for Extension agents and environmental educators to help communities learn about

and consider available energy options.









Educating about Complex Issues

Several key considerations can help provide an understanding for public education about

natural resource issues and their potential solutions: categories of communication, advocacy,

balanced messages, and the audience's prior knowledge. First, however, some background on the

Cooperative Extension Service and public issues education provides a useful context for

considering education about complex and controversial issues.

Since the Smith-Lever Act established the Cooperative Extension Service in 1914,

Extension services around the nation have been involved in educating adults in both rural and

urban areas. Extension programs address a variety of topics from agriculture and natural

resources to youth and community development, and the programs have evolved over time to

address society's needs. "Since the 1960s, the focus [of Extension] began to shift away from

farm and family management, toward leadership development, community development,

socialization, and public affairs" (Birkenholz, 1999, 3). For years, Extension professionals have

provided educational programming to help communities learn about important public issues

(Dale & Hahn, 1994; Patton & Blaine, 2001).

Public issues education developed in the early 1990s as an approach to help communities

gain the knowledge, capacity, and skills necessary to effectively deal with issues that are

controversial and contain different viewpoints (Dale & Hahn, 1994). Patton and Blaine (2001)

categorize public issues as those with a clearly defined problem and solution, a clearly defined

problem with several alternative solutions, or an unclear problem with solutions that are not yet

apparent. For the second and third case, the public has an important role to play in framing the

problem and defining potential solutions (Patton & Blaine, 2001). Extension agents and other

educators may be educating about issues that are not yet on the forefront of the public agenda or

those that have already escalated into a controversy. In either case, educators seek to raise









awareness and increase comprehension, as "learning is the cornerstone of any society's ability to

address public issues" (Dale & Hahn, 1994, 11). Educators have developed several step-by-step

facilitated exercises for addressing public issues, such as alternatives and consequences, the

ladder, and contrasting viewpoints (Dale & Hahn, 1994; Goodwin, 1993).

The information presented in Extension programs generally falls into two categories-

informative communication and persuasive communication. Informative communication is the

practice of sharing, explaining, and instructing with facts. The information is accurate, has an

identifiable source, and aims to create mutual understanding and reduce uncertainty (Jowett &

O'Donnell, 1999). For example, Florida's Cooperative Extension Service offers 7,000 online

publications that cover a variety of topics, such as water regulations, poinsettia care, and

prevention of house foreclosure (University of Florida, 2008). Many of these publications fall

into the category of informative communication. Often, the audience is seeking this type of

information to solve a problem or gain desired knowledge about a topic. Other publications and

programs may involve persuasive communication, as they advocate for voluntary adoption of a

specific belief, attitude, or behavior (Jowett & O'Donnell, 1999). For example, consider a

program that aims to reduce residential water use or involves the removal of invasive plant

species. These programs usually deliver more than just factual information; they also seek to

change values, points of view, and beliefs surrounding the behavior. For these educational

efforts, the audience may not be seeking the information, so getting and holding the reader's

attention is a priority (Jacobson et al., 2006). When the purpose of communication shifts from a

mutually satisfying and voluntary adoption process to one that promotes one group's objectives,

without care or concern for the audience's objectives, the communication becomes propaganda









(Jowett & O'Donnell, 1999). Since propaganda is often manipulative and not in the best interest

of society, it is not appropriate in most educational settings.

When educating about controversial issues, walking the line between education and

advocacy is an important consideration. Blaine and Patton (2000, 1) argue that "All education-

no matter what the topic, no matter the form of presentation-carries values (or bias)." Just the

act of developing a program means that the program is worth the organization's time and

consistent with their mission and goals (Blaine & Patton, 2000). Similarly, Jowett and O'Donnell

(1999) consider the fine line between informative communication and white propaganda-when

the information is accurate and the information source is identified, but the purpose is to promote

a specific ideology. When society agrees with ideology (e.g., violence is wrong), white

propaganda is usually not considered a problem in education. However, when educating about

complex issues where stakeholders are likely to have different values, beliefs, and attitudes,

promoting one ideology may not be appropriate. Educators can quickly lose credibility with the

public if they are perceived as advocating for one side of an issue over another. Clarifying to the

audience that the program reflects values but does not promote one solution may help the

program be more effective (Blaine & Patton, 2000).

Information concerning an issue can be presented as a one-sided message (i.e., where only

one side of the argument is discussed) or as a two-sided message (i.e., where supporting and

opposing arguments are balanced) (Bright & Manfredo, 1997; McKenzie-Mohr & Smith, 1999;

Walton, 1999). One-sided messages or arguments are regarded as biased because they do not

take into consideration the arguments of the other side of the issue, but instead advocate one

viewpoint (Walton, 1999). Two-sided messages that provide arguments for different sides of an

issue but do not refute either side are considered balanced messages that have the purpose of









educating rather than persuading audiences (Bright & Manfredo, 1997). The North American

Association for Environmental Education's Guidelines for Excellence (2004) provide guidance

for educators concerning the fairness and accuracy of educational materials. The fairness and

accuracy guideline suggests that "materials should reflect sound theories and well-documented

facts about subjects and issues, a range of perspectives should be presented in a balanced way,

and materials should encourage learners to explore different perspectives and form their own

opinions" (NAAEE, 2004, 5-6). The balanced presentation of information and perspectives may

allow individuals to fully consider the problem and potential solutions, which may help create

informed opinions about the issue.

In educational program development, considering what the target audience already knows

and does not know about the topic is critical to meeting learner needs and selecting appropriate

messages and strategies (Jacobson et al., 2006). The two assumptions underlying cognitive or

information learning theories are that the learner's memory is an "active processor of

information" and that "prior knowledge plays an important role in learning" (Merriam et al.,

2007, 285). Understanding what the audience knows or does not know can help educators bridge

new information with existing knowledge, link to existing values and beliefs, and break-down

misconceptions. Misconceptions do not represent a lack of knowledge, but are alternative

explanations or understandings for concepts, which are not consistent with science-based

knowledge (Jacobson et al., 2006; Munson, 1994). Indeed, the public has several misconceptions

about the use of wood for energy, such as wood is a "dirty" fuel and increases air pollution

(Monroe et al., 2007). In addition, knowing the audience's attitudes and behaviors related to the

topic is important, especially if the purpose of the communication is to influence these factors.

Understanding the target audience's prior knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors can help educators









to tailor their message to meet both the learner's needs and the educational objectives (Jacobson

et al., 2006; McKenzie-Mohr & Smith, 1999).

In sum, the complexity and controversial nature of some natural resource issues requires

careful planning of education and communication strategies. While written materials are

common components of education programs that seek to raise awareness and increase

understanding of natural resource topics (Jacobson et al., 2006), traditional styles of written

materials may not be effective for this context. To promote public engagement, written materials

need not only explain the issue but should also spark public interest and motivate further

involvement in the issue. Such written text becomes a blend of informative and persuasive

communication. This style of written text differs from a typical Extension fact sheet and is more

similar to a magazine article or feature story. This research explored how citizens perceive

informative written text that explains the option of using wood for energy and aims to motivate

citizen involvement.

Methods

Written text (hereafter called the "article") that explained the option to use wood to

generate energy and aimed to motivate citizen involvement was developed for this study

(Appendix A). The article was written to contain simple, understandable background information

about the use of wood for energy, to address common questions, to include differing

perspectives, and to provide procedural information about public involvement in energy issues.

The text also included interesting text characteristics-storyline, mystery, concrete examples,

people/characters, and vivid descriptions. A team of nine professors, graduate students, and

professionals who conduct natural resource and agricultural communications reviewed the

article. Each reviewer rated the article on the text characteristics (Appendix B). The article was

revised based on review results, paying particular attention to revising the information's









objectivity. However, since the study was funded by a federal grant for woody biomass outreach,

alternative energy sources were not specifically discussed in the article.

Focus groups, a group interview process, were chosen to gain in-depth understanding into

how readers perceive the information in article. A focus group is an appropriate data collection

method for qualitative research that seeks "to understand and explain the meanings, beliefs, and

cultures that influence feelings, attitudes, and behaviors of individuals" (Rabiee, 2004, 655).

Focus groups are facilitated through the use of an interview guide, which leads participants from

introductory, rapport-building questions to in-depth questions that address research objectives.

Ideally, focus groups contain six to eight participants, and a series of three to four groups are

conducted or until a "saturation" of ideas is reached (Krueger & Casey, 2000).

Since generalizing results to the population is not the goal of qualitative research,

collecting data from segments of the population who can provide rich information about the

research topic is important. Therefore, participants are selected because of similar characteristics,

which relate to the research topic at hand (Krueger & Casey, 2000). For this research, citizens

who are at least somewhat interested and/or active in community issues were assumed to be

more likely to see and read informative articles. In addition, due to their availability, retired

citizens may be more likely to read this type of article and become involved in the issue.

Thus, participants were recruited in Gainesville, Florida from community and

environmental organizations and a retirement community for a pilot focus group and three

subsequent focus groups (Appendix C). Recruitment announcements were distributed in

newsletters, list serves, and at general meetings. Each interested volunteer completed a screening

survey, which asked about their level of community interest and involvement, along with general

demographic characteristics. Table 2-1 provides a summary of the number of interested









volunteers, respondents, and participants for each focus group. The pilot focus group was

conducted on November 10, 2007 to provide feedback on the interview guide. Based on pilot

group comments, the article was also modified and evaluated by two additional expert reviewers.

When a limited number of participants are available, conducting more groups with fewer

participants is advisable (Krueger, 1998). As this was the situation, three small groups were held

rather than two large groups. Respondents were assigned to three scheduled focus groups so that

each group contained similar characteristics, making the groups as homogenous as possible

(Krueger & Casey, 2000). Approval was obtained by the University of Florida's Institutional

Review Board, and each participant signed an informed consent letter prior to participation

(Appendix D).

Table 2-1. Summary of focus group recruitment.
Type Pilot group Total of groups one, two, and three
Interested volunteers 12 27
Respondents 8 19
Participants 8 16

At the beginning of each focus group, participants were asked to read the article and

complete a short worksheet, which helped ensure they thoroughly read the article (Appendix E).

The same interview guide was used for each group (Appendix F). At the end of each group, the

moderator summarized the main points of the discussion to check for accuracy and differing

perspectives. An assistant took notes throughout the discussion, including notes about non-verbal

body language. In addition, the moderator and assistant debriefed after each group to record

initial thoughts about the key points and the general atmosphere of the group.

The focus group discussions were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Thus, the main

unit of analysis is words, sentences, and multi-sentence chunks (Miles & Huberman, 1994). The

first step in the analysis process included becoming familiar with the data. This was done by









reading the moderator and assistant's notes, listening to each audio-recording multiple times, and

reading the transcriptions. Next, the transcripts were descriptively coded. Codes were chosen and

defined based on participants' similar ideas, perspectives, and research question topics. Next,

portions of the transcripts containing the same codes were arranged together in a process similar

to the "long-table approach." This approach involves cutting the transcripts by coded sections

and combining segments of text into categories with the same or similar codes (Krueger, 1998;

Krueger & Casey, 2000).

These new groups of coded text were read together and through a process of comparison

the groups were refined, revised, or eliminated. In addition, segments of coded text were

rearranged if they fit better in another category. Through this process, the descriptive codes were

interpreted and meaning of the code groups developed-essentially developing themes or "big

ideas." A matrix was used to display the data in a reduced and easy-to-access format (Appendix

G) (Miles & Huberman, 1994). This data analysis process follows a framework analysis

approach (Rabiee, 2004). This approach to data analysis was chosen because it is a series of

steps, which can be easily applied to qualitative data from focus groups, and it allows themes to

emerge from both the transcripts and the research questions (Rabiee, 2004). Several steps were

taken to ensure the validity of this research, which include: pilot testing the interview questions,

creating a comfortable group atmosphere, verifying key points in a summary for each group,

debriefing with the focus group assistant, and analyzing data is a systematic manner (Krueger,

1998).

Results and Discussion

Three focus groups were conducted at the same location in Gainesville, Florida on two

consecutive Saturdays-December 7th (Group One) and December 15th, 2007 (Groups Two and

Three). Overall, 16 participants participated in the focus group discussions (five participants in









Group One, six participants in Group Two, and five participants in Group Three). All

participants considered themselves somewhat to very interested in community issues, and most

participants considered themselves somewhat active in community issues. All participants were

white and non-Hispanic. Most participants were over 50 years old and female, with only 3 of the

16 participants being male. Overall, the participants were a highly educated group, with 13 of the

16 participants having at least a bachelor's degree.

Each group included two residents of a retirement community and three to four members

of a community organization, most of which were environmental-based organizations (e.g.,

Clean Water Action Network) rather than service-based organizations (e.g., Kiwanis Club).

Many participants discussed a concern for the environment while introducing themselves in the

focus group. Comments such as "I'm interested in environmental and pollution issues" were

common among the groups. One explanation for this trend is that the recruitment announcement

stated the discussion would focus on natural resource issues, which may have encouraged those

with environmental concerns to respond. However, in order to avoid recruiting participants with

strong opinions about using wood for energy, the announcement did not state the particular issue

for discussion (Krueger & Casey, 2000). In fact, at the time of the focus groups, the city of

Gainesville had been involved in long-standing discussions about the need for additional energy

and was considering woody biomass as a fuel source. However, only one participant was aware

of this ongoing community discussion.

Three themes about the use of written text to inform people about a controversial issue

developed from the focus groups. They are: mistrust, the right information, and balance of

information.









Theme: Mistrust

Focus group participants expressed feelings of mistrust and skepticism toward the energy

and forest industries that might be involved with a wood-to-energy project, which affected how

they perceived the information in the article. Many comments reflect this basic lack of trust in

industry. For example, one participant questioned whether an energy company that hired

foresters really could ensure sustainable supplies of wood: "It was the business that hired the

foresters. What checks and balances are there to make sure that their integrity and their loyalty

are not to the company but to the community and forests? They are still working for the

company. So if the company says, we will fire you if you don't produce this much wood. There

is always that. I mean it is human nature." On a similar strand, another participant expressed

skepticism toward the actual use of good forest management practices by referring to an expert

quoted in the article, "He says 'through good forest management practices the environment can

not only be protected' and that's just like an ideal because everybody hopes there is going to be

good management practices, and we all know how that often works out." Other participants in

the group agreed with this comment.

Participants questioned the industries' ability to keep promises about which sources of

woody biomass they were using: urban wood waste, forestry residues, or trees grown for energy

production. Most participants were more positive about using urban waste wood and forestry

residues than trees grown for energy. One participant summed up this perspective by saying, "If

it's waste, ifit's waste, it's great. And only if it's waste." However, some participants wondered,

"How much more do you have to cut to sustain a real community?" One participant used the

cypress mulch industry as a specific example of how business ventures have broken promises in

the past: "I mean that started out, yeah we'll just use scrap. Well, it's not scrap now. They are

cutting down [trees]." Another participant expressed skepticism by saying, "My concern









immediately became.. .this is going to spiral into actually using the forests again. And it's

because urban waste wood and forestry residues are not of a high enough quantity to really run

these plants."

In addition to mistrust in industry, other examples of mistrust came up during the focus

group discussions. One participant said that having mostly governmental references listed within

the article "sounds not trusting." For some participants, lack of trust was their norm. No text

would be able to overcome their skepticism of experts: "Even though they claim to be an expert

on a subject, I don't think that they know what they are talking about. It's very scary. I'm very,

very skeptical about things.... So I just don't believe people always know what they are talking

about."

Some participants also had feelings of mistrust for the information source. In order to

gather responses concerning the objectivity of the text, participants were not told that the article

was a potential educational product from an Extension program until the last question of the

focus group. Several participants immediately agreed that knowing the article "is produced by a

university gives it more credence." However, participants in all three groups also discussed the

possibility that even though the university is a credible source of "fact-based" information, it

may not be "objective" due to research funding. One participant stated, "My first question is who

gave the university the grant to do this research?" This feeling of a hidden agenda was summed

up by a comment made in Group Two, "The [university] helps me, but I am also familiar

with.. .their commercial interests and that kind of thing too."

Throughout the three focus groups, participants conveyed feelings of mistrust in several of

their comments. These feelings were mainly directed toward industry; however, some

participants also discussed other entities such as government agencies and information sources.









Overall, the "mistrust" theme shows that participants believe that attractive promises and

conservative predictions can fall by the wayside if they are not ultimately in the best interest of

business. This sentiment agrees with Walton's (1999, 199) suggestion that the public perceives

corporations "as primarily pursuing their own interests, even if this may conflict with the

interests of the general population." Even when participants read predictions about wood

availability, they may not believe the information because they basically do not trust the

industries involved. Wondolleck and Yaffee (2000) explain that feelings of mistrust, such as

those the public often has for government institutions and big businesses, can increase one

group's suspicion and skepticism of another group's motives, methods for data analysis, and

interpretation of data.

Theme: The Right Information

This theme emerged from discussions in all three focus groups and revolves around

comments that several participants made about the information that was or was not provided in

the article. Some participants wanted "more information" than was presented, while some

thought there was "too much information." Others felt that it was not more information that was

needed, but the right information. This was explained by one participant who said, "Isn't it

weird? Like we're saying it's too much information, but not enough information about other

things." One participant strongly stated, "I got a lot of facts. But as I continue reading, my head

kept telling me it's not answering the questions that I have in my mind. And I got to the end and

my questions were still not answered." There was also discussion in all three groups where the

participants recognize that they are "an educated group" and that this level of information is not

appropriate for the "general public."

Participants questioned information that disagreed with their prior knowledge and in some

cases revealed basic misconceptions and confusion. For example, in reference to information









about air pollution and carbon-neutrality of wood, one participant stated, "I was puzzled by the

section on how is wood carbon neutral... .Because I have always assumed that you know when

you have a forest fire and everything is smoky. I have pulmonary problems, so I am aware of

this. And they tell you go inside-don't go out. And so now when they are saying its carbon

neutral, I am puzzled at the discrepancy at the warnings we get about forest fires." Another

participant agreed by responding, "Yeah, I questioned that too as I read it. What I know of this

from breathing. How much [emissions] can they take out? [The emissions] may not be as bad as

something else, but it's not good either." Two other participants also agreed that they were

confused at the discrepancies between what they know about wood burning and the information

in the article. In another group, one participant stated, "It's smelly. It's dirty, when you run your

fireplace a couple days." However, the article specifically tried to address this misconception by

discussing the difference between burning wood at an energy facility with emission controls and

burning wood in a fireplace or a forest fire.

Similarly, the article contained information to address concerns about sustainable forestry

practices and sustainable supplies of wood. However, this information did not seem to impact

participants' fear of forest loss. One participant said, "I keep thinking that there will come a day

just like with the oil when we're going to run out of wood and the main concern I would have is

how fast is this wood going to run out?" While this relates to the "mistrust" theme, where

participants were skeptical of the wood supply data, it also relates to a possible misconception

that wood is not a renewable resource or that forests can not be harvested in a sustainable

manner.

While the article covered several typical concerns about using wood for energy and all of

the concerns these participants mentioned, they did not seem to be satisfied with the provided









information. Participants made conflicting statements over whether there was too much

information, not enough information, or just not the right information. For some participants, the

text was unable to break down misconceptions. Misconceptions persist in one's cognitive

framework, and they influence how new information is processed until they are confronted and

new understandings are constructed (CUSE, 1997; Jacobson et al., 2006). Sometimes learners

may correct simple misconceptions by themselves when they learn new information; however,

some misconceptions are deeply held by individuals and must be addressed through interaction

between the educator and the learner (CUSE, 1997).

Theme: Balance of Information

In each group, there was general agreement that the text was biased toward using wood.

The first topic of the questioning guide asked participants their general reaction to the article.

Participants in all three groups immediately responded that text seemed "more pro for using

wood for energy" and "made short shrift of the negative." Participants discussed several aspects

of the text that led to their perceptions of bias. First of all, while the article does cover the

common concerns about using wood for energy, participants felt these concerns were not fully

explained but the benefits were well-explained. One participant said, "Some of the concerns

were addressed very briefly in the article, but yeah, not nearly to the extent [needed]." Other

participants thought that the article should "compare [wood] with alternative sources" or that

wood should be "presented in tandem with other small energy sources" instead of solely focusing

on wood as an energy source.

Participants within each group recognized the possibility that they might not have "all the

facts." One participant stated, "References are the truth, but they are not the whole truth.... They

[a group with contrasting viewpoints] could probably write a rebuttal to this just as well written

and just as many references in about an hour." Another participant expressed concern for how









facts can be manipulated to frame a certain message, "It's almost trying to mislead you into a

more positive outlook because if indeed all the dry wood waste available in the county only

provides enough wood for 1% of homes, then is it really worth the effort? And to me, you could

easily have made that conclusion [that wood is not worthwhile] with the same facts that are

presented here. But instead somebody chose to write it in a way that puts a more positive spin on

it rather than what I think the actual situation is." So while the information may be accurate,

participants feel the same facts can be used to tell two different stories depending on how the

information is framed.

The article did contain an opposing viewpoint, but all three groups perceived this

opposition as "token" or easy to dismiss. Since the opposing argument seemed so easy to

counter, it actually appeared to one participant as a "pro" argument. One participant noticed that

the oppositional viewpoint was only given "like two sentences...and they don't really explain

what their argument is." Another participant noticed that "there is not a balance of opinion

there." Overall, the groups agreed that this opposing viewpoint was just a gesture or "token

opposition." In light of this "token opposition," participants are left feeling as though they need

to find out more information that supports the opposite viewpoint. One participant expressed this

by saying, "If I were going to seriously think about using wood for energy, I would find someone

who wrote a paper against wood for energy before I made up my mind. I mean I don't know if

I'm for or against it." Another participant wanted "more of the negative" examples. This need for

differing viewpoints can be summed up by one participant's statement, "Well, I don't care if it's

biased, as long as I get both biases, for and against, I could form my own conclusions."

Overall, the need for balancing supporting and opposing information about the use of

wood for energy is apparent. Although the article intended to objectively explain the use of wood









for energy, participants perceived the article as biased for several reasons. They felt the concerns

were not addressed as adequately as the benefits. Participants wondered if they have all the facts

and if the facts are framed to promote wood. Furthermore, the opposing viewpoint included in

the text did not adequately fulfill the role of a counter opinion, and participants were left wanting

additional viewpoints on the subject. Bias is a normal part of many arguments and is expected in

some situations, such as when an environmental group advocates their position of old growth

forest protection. However, when an information source is supposed to be balanced, connections

to interested parties who have something to gain are not transparent, or when bias is hidden or

unexpected it can be harmful and deceptive (Walton, 1999). These factors that the participants

felt created a biased argument are important considerations for educators who are

communicating complex issues such as this one. Recognizing that the media are expected to

provide different viewpoints, even when one viewpoint is in the minority of the mainstream

opinion, and that the public has become accustomed to receiving multiple views is also important

(Friedman et al., 1999).

Conclusions

Three themes developed from the focus groups' review of an article that explained the

option to use wood for energy and aimed to motivate involvement. The first theme, "mistrust,"

suggests that participants have underlying feelings of mistrust, primarily for forest and energy

industries, but also for information sources and government agencies. They approached the

information provided in the article with skepticism which fueled their suspicions about the

motives of the information source. The theme, "the right information," focuses on the

participants' need for information that addresses their specific issue questions and concerns.

Although the article was written to include common questions and concerns, participants were

not satisfied with the provided information, and the text was ineffective at addressing their









misconceptions. Within the theme of "balance of information," participants discussed

characteristics that they perceived as increasing the bias in the article. The participants felt the

concerns were not addressed as adequately as the benefits, they wanted to know more about

alternative energy sources, and they wanted more representation of different viewpoints.

These themes suggest that using written text as a communication and education tool for an

issue such as the use of wood for energy is challenging. While written materials are useful for

reaching large audiences, the effectiveness of text is questionable when the issue at hand is

controversial. As Dale and Hahn state (1994, 31), "It isn't easy.. .to present complex material,

either spoken or written, in a way that accurately reflects multiple points of view and satisfies a

diverse audience." Building trust among parties, addressing individualized questions and

concerns, and identifying and overcoming misconceptions are processes that often require time

and personal interaction (CUSE, 1997; Toman et al., 2006; Wondolleck & Yaffee, 2000).

Interactive learning opportunities, such as community forums and discussion groups, may be

more effective than text at achieving these outcomes.

When public mistrust surrounds an issue, any unequal treatment of arguments, whether

intentional or not, is likely to result in the educator being perceived as biased. In this case, the

participant's suspicion of the motives of the information source and the funding entity combined

with the unbalanced argument resulted in perceptions of bias that were unintended by the author.

Dale and Hahn (2004) note that "you may find it difficult to remain neutral, or be perceived as

neutral, in the face of [complex issues] because you will be viewed as the purveyor of the

information."

These findings do not mean that written materials should be dismissed, but rather that we

should reconsider how the information is framed and the role of written materials can play within









a larger, interactive outreach effort. Before researchers and professionals transfer these results to

other issues and audiences, the issue's context and the characteristics of the target audience

should be compared to those described in this research (Krueger, 1998). The participants of this

research are not representative of the general population; they represent a portion of the

population who are interested and may be involved in environmental issues. For issues with a

similar context to the option of using wood for energy and with audiences that resemble the

research participants, the following lessons learned for written text may be helpful:

* Acknowledge the motives of the involved industries to begin the trust-building process.

* Provide transparency about the agendas of both the information source and the funding
entity.

* Acknowledge that there are multiple questions and concerns that can not be adequately
covered in the text and provide several methods for future research.

* Adequately think through the concerns that are addressed within the text, making sure to
fully consider the underlying problems and potential solutions.

* Create an equal number of positive and negative examples, including examples of
communities or people who denied the solution of interest.

* Provide the same amount of space for differing viewpoints and give equal strength to the
viewpoints.

In addition, when discussing potential solutions to issues, the clarification of alternatives

and consequences to the solution is suggested over emphasizing the solution's advantages and

disadvantages (Dale & Hahn, 1994). Distributing written materials at interactive outreach events,

where the public has the chance to be involved in discussion and ask individualized questions

may also be helpful (McCaffrey, 2004). By addressing the audience's mistrust and skepticism,

desire for transparency and balanced information, and acknowledgement of legitimate concerns,

written text may become a more effective strategy for educating about complex, technical, and









controversial environmental situations. Future research could evaluate the effectiveness of text

that exhibits these characteristics.









CHAPTER 3
INFORMING AND MOTIVATING CITIZENS ABOUT COMPLEX NATURAL RESOURCE
ISSUES THROUGH INTERESTING TEXT

Natural resources issues and decision-making processes are increasingly complex and tend

to involve the consideration of environmental, economic, and social factors. For example, a

community struggling with a dwindling water supply and an increasing population may be faced

with decisions about how to balance economic growth with environmental protection. Public and

private agencies can involve citizens in issue resolution, and together these stakeholders can

create innovative and locally satisfying solutions (Wondolleck & Yaffee, 2000). However, when

the public is not aware or has little knowledge of the issue, their opinions are usually inconsistent

and not fully thought out (Yankelovich, 1991). Educators first have to raise awareness and

increase understanding before public participation is useful. In addition, most people have little

time to spare to become part of a lengthy process to resolve an issue they know little about. Thus,

getting the public motivated to become involved in natural resource decisions can be a difficult

task, especially if the issue seems distant or irrelevant.

Educators can use a variety of outreach techniques to raise public awareness, knowledge,

and involvement in natural resource issues (Jacobson et al., 2006). Often, written materials (e.g.,

fact sheets, brochures, bulletins, news articles) are a key component of outreach programs.

Written materials are relatively inexpensive to produce, can reach many people, and can be

distributed as needed (Jacobson et al., 2006; Rodewald, 2001). In addition, the public is familiar

with receiving information in this format and can access it at their convenience (Jacobson et al.,

2006). However, the technical nature of natural resource information can be overwhelming,

abstract, and boring for readers (De Young & Monroe, 1996; Kearney, 1994). In fact, research

has found that written text about natural resource topics can be ineffective at increasing

comprehension and changing perceptions (George & Crooks, 2006). Alternatively, text that









provides information in an understandable, memorable, and meaningful manner and invites

public engagement may be helpful for both increasing comprehension and motivating future

issue involvement (Kearney & De Young, 1995; Monroe & De Young, 1994).

This research explores effective written communication strategies for informing and

motivating citizens about a technical, controversial, and complex natural resource issue-the

option of using wood to generate energy. The objective of this research is to determine how

effective communication characteristics can best be applied to technical information to both

explain the issue and involve the public in the issue. Because of the need for a rich understanding

of this topic, focus groups were used to determine how citizens perceive the use of interesting

text characteristics in written text that explains the option to use wood for energy and how the

text affects citizens' motivation to get involved in the issue.

Literature Review

Similar to mass media, written text is often used to raise awareness and increase

understanding about environmental topics with large audiences (Jacobson et al., 2006). However,

studies point to the fact that providing information alone may not effectively achieve educational

goals. For example, a recent evaluation of natural resource informational brochures in southern

California found that residents who received a brochure did not have, or had only minor,

statistically significant changes in knowledge or perceptions of the issues compared to residents

who did not receive the brochure (George & Crooks, 2006). In addition, Toman et al. (2006)

found that while more people were exposed to mass media than interactive communications

concerning fire outreach programs, interactive communications were generally rated as more

helpful. As McCaffrey (2004, 12) states, "The availability of information does not necessarily

mean that it will reach its audience or be effective once it gets there."









Furthermore, the objectives of environmental education programs are often not limited to

merely raising awareness and increasing knowledge; they intend to increase motivation for

involvement, help form and change environmental attitudes, teach problem-solving skills, or

create opportunities for participation (UNESCO, 1978). Interactive communications are

considered more effective than mass media at changing attitudes, persuading people to accept

new ideas, and effectively engaging the public in participatory processes (Rogers, 1995; Rowe &

Frewer, 2005; Toman et al., 2006). Thus, educators striving to reach multiple environmental

education objectives may want to consider how text can be effectively written to not only inform

but also engage the reader and motivate future involvement. Strategies for writing effective text

will be discussed by focusing on the role written text can play in motivating readers, considering

different types of information and how information is processed by readers, and finally

discussing how information can be conveyed in an interesting and engaging manner.

If the goals of an educational program include enhancing public involvement in the issue,

written materials associated with the program may help to motivate the reader to become further

involved. Motivation is a concept that helps explain "why people behave as they do"

(Wlodkowski, 1999, 37). People are motivated both extrinsically and intrinsically. Extrinsic

motivations include incentives or disincentives, such as rewards or fines, while intrinsic

motivations rely on a person's natural instinct to be curious and active, the need to make sense of

and participate in the surrounding world, and feelings of satisfaction (De Young, 2000; Kaplan,

2000; Wlodkowski, 1999). Strategies such as provoking curiosity through questions and using

relevant examples to promote interest can create conditions where the reader is "desirous of

information, knowledge, insight, and skill" (Wlodkowski, 1999, 69). Focusing on intrinsic









motivations of competence and participation gives people proximal, self-satisfying reasons to

become engaged in natural resource issues (De Young, 2000; Kaplan, 2000).

Competence is an intrinsic motivation that can build confidence in skills and abilities and

lead to empowerment. The intrinsic motivation of participation stems from the desire to feel

needed and trust that participation efforts really make a difference (De Young, 2000). Alluding

to the possibility of choice and need for exploration of solutions within text can increase

motivation for participation (De Young, 2000; Kaplan, 2000). On the other hand, people tend to

avoid overwhelming and confusing situations, which increase feelings of helplessness (Kaplan,

2000), as when people feel that their actions will not make a difference. Yet, feelings of

helplessness must be addressed if the public is to be motivated to participate in solving

environmental problems (Kaplan, 2000). Simple, accessible information that is not

overwhelming or filled with technical jargon may help to reduce the feelings of helplessness and

increase competence.

Text that increases intrinsic motivations of competence and participation has also been

found to increase knowledge. Young and Witter (1994) tested several communication

characteristics by evaluating educational brochures about a natural resource management issue.

Two of the four characteristics determined to be the most effective at increasing knowledge were

legibility (text that is easy to understand, lacks jargon, and relates to one's prior knowledge and

experience) and inclusion of motivational information (text that encourages the reader to be

involved in the issue and specifically states the importance of their involvement).

Recognizing that all information is not equal is an important step for educators who seek to

create effective text. Schultz (2002) distinguishes different types of information that lead to

different types of beliefs and knowledge. Impact knowledge is information about the









implications of an action or non-action. Procedural knowledge is "how to" information that when

absent can be a barrier to change, action, and participation. Normative knowledge is developed

from information of other's attitudes and behaviors and may contribute to social norms and

learned behaviors. Normative information can be provided in written text through describing

examples of other communities and citizens who are engaging in the specific action or behavior

(Schultz, 2002). In addition to impact, procedural, and normative information, readers should be

provided with a sufficient amount of background information to understand the issue.

Research in the field of social psychology has produced theories of information processing

and the influence of messages on attitude and behavior change. McGuire's information

processing model (1968) focuses on how communication inputs (source, message, recipient,

channel, and context) influence audience reception of the message and formation of new

attitudes or behaviors. Cognitive response theory built upon information processing to recognize

that individuals are active participants who incorporate messages into existing knowledge

structures and have favorable and unfavorable thoughts toward messages (Petty et al., 1981).

The Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) accounts for both active and non-active

processors of information (Petty & Priester, 1994). When the person is motivated and has the

ability to process the message, the central route to persuasion is activated; the peripheral route to

persuasion occurs when cognitive involvement is low, meaning the person is either not motivated

or able to process the message. Several text characteristics affect which route to persuasion is

activated. Petty and Priester (1994) state that personal relevance, questions, multiple information

sources, and surprising headlines increase a person's motivation to cognitively process a

message. The most important variable to invoke interest and motivation is perceived personal

relevance of the message. Messages can be self-relevant by making them location specific and









by using first and second person pronouns, such as I, we, you and us. Asking questions, rather

than using summarizing statements, can also increase cognitive processing and motivation to be

engaged in the information. In addition, having multiple information sources present the

arguments and using surprising headlines can increase thinking (Petty & Priester, 1994). Attitude

changes resulting from the central route are long-lasting and predictive of behavior, while

attitude changes resulting from the peripheral route are temporal, unstable, and not predictive of

behavior (Petty and Priester 1994).

Technical environmental information can be conveyed to the reader through the use of

interesting text (Kearney, 1994; Monroe & De Young, 1994). Interesting text, or text-based

interest, is created through the use of "action, mystery, imagery, and meaningful characters" and

is also referred to as interestingness (Monroe & De Young, 1994, 244). Some environmental

issues, such as grizzly bear attacks, are interesting to the reader because of the topic. Other

environmental issues, such as mountain-top removal, may be perceived by readers as abstract,

boring, irrelevant, and distant; the use of text-based interest is especially useful for these types of

issues (Kearney, 1994; Monroe & De Young 1994). The following list includes characteristics

that have been identified for creating interesting text (Kearney, 1994; Monroe & De Young,

1994):

CHARACTERS. The use of realistic characters or people within text that readers can
identify with.

MYSTERY. The promise of new information, which leads the reader to the answers
they are seeking.

VIVIDNESS. The reader's attention is held by text that is action-oriented, relevant,
imaginative, and personalized.

CONCRETENESS. The use of specific examples, numbers, and details.

STORYLINE. Explanation of a problem, potential solutions, complications, and
problem resolution.









RELATING TO PRIOR KNOWLEDGE. Information that relates to existing knowledge,
beliefs, and experiences will be easily for the reader to process.

Effective use of true stories (e.g., case study examples and analogies) and characters or people

within text can help provide normative information, give the reader a sense of direct experience,

and take advantage of text characteristics that facilitate information transfer and cognitive

processing (Keamey, 1994; De Young & Monroe, 1996). In addition to legibility and motivating

information, Young and Witter (1994) also determined that mystery and vividness were the most

effective text characteristics for increasing knowledge about a natural resource issue.

A comparison of story-based text verses factual text by Keamey and De Young (1995)

showed that text perceived as interesting (in this case the factual text) had a greater impact on

perceived knowledge, confidence, and comfort with knowledge than less interesting text. Their

study also showed that knowing if the target audience is accustomed to receiving technical

information or story-based information will affect the type of text they perceive as interesting.

Keamy and De Young (1995) suggest that story-based text may be more effective when people

do not have a strong understanding of the issue. In addition, the authors conclude that

combinations of story-based and factual text may more effective than one or the other alone.

Principles of adult learning can also be used to write interesting and engaging text. Taylor-

Davis (2000) evaluated a theory-based newsletter on older adult's knowledge, attitude, and

behavior. Specific adult learning characteristics were targeted within the different sections of the

newsletter, such as citing credible sources, drawing on previous reader experiences, providing

relevant information and problem-centered approaches, and promoting active participation. The

theory-based newsletter was successful at providing nutrition information, increasing patient

knowledge, and encouraging some behavior change in older adult's dietary habits (Taylor-Davis,

2000).









In summary, the literature offers the following list of suggestions for educators seeking to

write effective text:

* Provide motivational information to encourage the reader to become involved in the issue.

* Incorporate different types of information in an understandable and accessible format.

* Consider the text variables that will encourage active message processing.

* Include appropriate characteristics of interesting text-storylines, identifiable characters,
mystery, concrete examples, and vividness.

* Account for how adults prefer to learn by drawing on existing knowledge and experiences.

* Provide relevant information and problem-based approaches.

These communication characteristics may help to reduce feelings of helplessness and build

competence, provide memorable and meaningful information, and encourage more widespread

participation in environmental issue resolution.

Methods

Article Development

Written text (hereafter referred to as the "article") that explained the option to use wood to

generate energy and aimed to motivate citizen involvement was developed for this study

(Appendix A). Informational content was compiled from several Extension fact sheets and case

studies from the Wood to Energy Outreach Program (Monroe et al., 2007). The article was

written to contain simple, accessible information that lacks technical jargon, to discuss both the

benefits and concerns of using wood for energy, and to include photographs, tables, and bulleted

lists to break up the text. Personal relevance was emphasized through the use of first and second

person pronouns, relevant questions to the reader, and the reasons to learn the information and

become involved. In addition, normative and procedural information about citizen involvement

in energy plans was included in the article.









Several text characteristics to promote interestingness were incorporated throughout the

article. First, an overarching storyline (introducing the energy problem, explaining trial solutions

of wood as an energy source, and concluding with a potential solution of citizen involvement in

developing wood-to-energy plans) was used. The article was divided into sections to address

common concerns of the issue, and each section transitioned into the next with a new question

for the reader to consider. Short case study examples, including people and places that are

involved in using wood for energy, were interspersed throughout the article. The treatment of the

examples and locations varied; some were described vividly and concretely, while others were

generalized and abstract. Each person included in the article was identified by name and title;

however, the use of personal pronouns and quotations varied among the characters. This

variation of interesting text characteristics enabled focus group participants to discuss different

types of text characteristics within the same document. Thus, the article contained interesting

text characteristics and represents a mixture of narrative and expository text.

Prior to using the article, a team of nine communication experts reviewed and rated the

article on the text characteristics (Appendix B). This team consisted of professors, graduate

students, and professionals who conduct natural resource and agricultural education and

communication. Experts also rated the paragraphs based on vividness and imagery levels of the

examples, people, and locations. The article was slightly revised based on review results in order

to better meet the desired text characteristics.

Data Collection and Analysis

Focus groups, a group interview process, were chosen to gain in-depth understanding into

how readers perceive the article and their motivation to become involved in the issue (Krueger &

Casey, 2000). For this research, citizens who are at least somewhat interested and/or active in

community issues or have increased availability of time were assumed to be more likely to see









and read informative articles. Participants were recruited from community and environmental

organizations and a retirement community (Appendix C). A pilot focus group was conducted to

provide feedback on the interview guide and the article. For the pilot group, there were 12

interested volunteers, of which eight responded to the screening survey and participated in the

pilot group. For the three subsequent focus groups, there were 27 interested volunteers, of which

19 responded and were assigned to a scheduled group, making the groups as homogenous as

possible (Krueger & Casey, 2000). A total of 16 participants attended the three groups. Each

participant signed an informed consent letter (Appendix D).

At the beginning of each focus group, participants read the article and completed a short

worksheet, to ensure they read the article thoroughly (Appendix E). The same interview guide

was used for each group, which revolved around the following research topics: current

interest/involvement in community issues; general perceptions of text; perceptions of locations,

people, and examples; motivation to become involved; perceptions of information source

(Appendix F). The moderator concluded the discussion by summarizing key points and checking

for accuracy (Krueger & Casey, 2000).

The focus group discussions were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. The steps of

data analysis included: data familiarization, identification of thematic framework (codes),

indexing (sorting codes), charting (rearranging codes), and mapping and interpretation (seeing

the relationships) (Krueger, 1998; Krueger & Casey, 2000; Rabiee, 2004). This framework

analysis approach was chosen because the steps can be easily applied to focus group data, and it

allows themes to emerge from both the transcripts and the research questions (Rabiee, 2004). A

matrix was used to display the data in a reduced and easy to access format (Appendix G) (Miles

& Huberman, 1994).









Results and Discussion

All focus group participants considered themselves somewhat to very interested in

community issues, and most participants considered themselves somewhat active in community

issues. All participants were white and non-Hispanic; all but three participants were over 50

years old. Most participants were female, with only three of the 16 participants being male.

Overall, the participants were a highly educated group, with 13 of the 16 participants having at

least a bachelor's degree. Each group included two residents of a retirement community and

three to four members of a community organization, most of which were environmental-based

organizations. In addition, almost all participants made comments reflecting environmental

interest and concern. The results of the focus group discussions are organized into two themes:

perceptions of interesting text and motivation for involvement.

Theme: Perceptions of Interesting Text

While some participants said the interesting text "doesn't help, but doesn't hurt" their

understanding of the information, participants in all groups used the interesting text

characteristics to consider the technical information about using wood for energy. In each group,

participants compared the provided examples to local situations to think through the possibility

of using wood for energy in their community. For example, one participant stated, "[The

example] does tell you 25,000 residents can use [wood for energy]. Could Gainesville, with

150,000 [residents], use it?" Other participants considered how "environmentally conscious"

their community was compared to described places or how local railroad systems could be used

in a manner similar to that described in an example. Through these types of comments, it was

clear that participants used the examples and locations to learn more about how wood can be

used for energy and to generate important questions for their community.









In addition to using the interesting text characteristics to consider local possibilities,

participants discussed how the examples, locations, and people provided opportunities to learn

from others. For example, the information described within the case study examples provided

some participants with an understanding of how others "worked around the negatives and if they

were successful." Providing normative information also helped some participants better

understand wood to energy possibilities. One participant stated, "I think the examples for me, as

a citizen...it enhances [the information] just to see this has been successfully used here and

there." Another participant expressed this sentiment by stating, "My first reaction when they said

using wood, was those forests... and was very anti. And as I read it and how they were doing it in

certain places, it opened my mind a bit to say, well, certain places where they have a facility and

they have enough supply and people who know what they are doing, it might work."

Participants in each group identified with locations and examples that were personally

relevant. Several participants across the three groups mentioned the locations from Florida. None

of the Florida locations were described vividly, instead they stood out to participants because

they were "close to home." Similarly, Burlington, Vermont was mentioned in each group

because a participant had prior knowledge that it is a "green state" or had previously lived there,

despite the fact that this location was also not vividly described. Other participants were drawn to

concrete descriptions that related to their personal interests, such as "historic towns" or "football

teams." Examples that involved high schools or universities generating energy from wood were

mentioned by participants more than the larger wood-to-energy facility examples. One

participant's reasoning for this was: "It seems doable on a small scale like a university... It

seems sustainable for a campus to do that." As all participants are residents of a county with a

large university, these types of examples may have been relevant and familiar to them. In sum,









familiar examples and places were more frequently mentioned and seemed more meaningful to

participants, whether the example was concretely and vividly described or not. However, without

the descriptive vivid terms (e.g., quaint, historic town), some examples would not have been

meaningful to participants.

Many participants agreed that the people described in the article were not as important to

them as the examples. A typical comment in each focus group was, "I was more focused on the

use of the wood not the actual person." However, the person's credentials and levels of expertise

were important, as expressed by this participant's comment, "I like to know why they are saying

what they are saying." While some people in the article were vividly described and used first and

second pronouns in their quotes, other people were not described at all. However, this treatment

did not seem to influence how participants related with the people. In fact, participants did not

appear to relate to any one person more than another. The only people that were discussed by

participants were ones that played a role in making the information seem opinionated. For

example, a participant mentioned, "I noticed [the article] was real happy and positive about

burning wood. He waved [the truck] through with a friendly smile, and it's all happy and

friendly." In this case, the described emotions of one person resulted in participants perceiving

the person as happy to be cutting down trees, which was not the intent of the author.

In addition, participants in each focus group wanted more details within the examples.

While some participants were concerned that the examples simplified a complicated situation,

others wanted more concrete details, such as what wood sources were being used, how much

money was being saved, and how long the facilities have been in operation. As each example

was chosen to explain different aspects of the issue, not all examples included all the possible









information. This is a function of the decision to include multiple, short examples or fewer,

detailed examples.

Many participants recognized that this article was unlike other written materials they have

been exposed to that discuss similar topics or come from similar information sources (in this

case, the Cooperative Extension Service). The use of interesting text reminded them of "a

magazine article" rather than a "scientific fact sheet." Some participants recommended that

separating the facts from the stories in the article would help clarify and organize the

information. Participants discussed reorganizing the article into sections of fact-based

information and story-based information, or as one participant put it, "Here is the science part.

Here is the local discussion part." Since the readers seemed unfamiliar with the mixed format of

the article, providing more organization or reader guidelines as to where the case study examples

begin and end may be helpful.

While participants made recommendations for reorganizing the text and some seemed

unsure of whether they liked the interesting text, overall, this theme recognizes that providing

descriptive examples and locations can help participants process technical information, compare

local and distant possibilities, and provide relevant, meaningful, and familiar information. One

participant summed up the benefits of interesting text by saying, "If we don't relate to [the text]

somehow, whether the name, people, or place, then we're going to lose interest.... You need to

make sure it reaches out to a bunch of different individuals and different personalities."

Theme: Motivation for Involvement

Many participants seemed to be interested in taking part in the actions suggested in the

article to encourage citizen involvement. Participants from each group mentioned that they

would be motivated to learn more about the issue. Some participants would be interested in the

subject, but did not imagine they would actively seek out more information. These participants









mentioned being sensitized to the subject: "If I saw an article in the newspaper or magazine

about it, where in the past I might have just gone by it, now I would stop and read it." Others

would seek out more information either on the internet or at the library. Some participants

mentioned they would continue learning to "get my questions answered" about the issue.

Another motivation for continued involvement was to learn different points of view of the issue.

One participant expressed positive feelings about the procedural information included in the

article by stating, "One thing I did like is the reference to how to search for it on the internet. I

like that. I like putting the power to the person to continue their own research."

Participants from each group expressed interest in "touring a local power plant." Some

participants suggested that providing contact information for each person or example mentioned

in the article could help them continue researching the case study examples. For example, one

participant stated, "It would have been nice to have, if you want to visit this place, the website or

the number to call to schedule a tour." In addition, several participants mentioned that they

would discuss the issue with others: "All I know is that I'll be curious now when I meet a few of

my neighbors, either at my house or upstairs or at lunch or dinner, to bring up the wood issue,

out of curiosity.... Are they as well informed as I am now?" Other participants would "respond to

a news article with a letter to the editor."

The actions mentioned were ones that the participants felt comfortable with, as opposed to

actions they perceive as threatening. For example, participants from each group recognized that

they are not experts and said they would be intimidated to speak at public meetings. One

participant expressed these feelings by stating, "I would still be afraid to discuss my perspective

with community leaders and officials because I wouldn't think I would know enough as far as

facts go. And they would just say, oh you don't know what you're talking about, and kind of









move on.... You really have to know your subject like the back of your hand in order to be able

to be effective." Other participants said that they would go to public meetings to listen, learn

more, and ask questions.

As this article was not specifically written for one community, some participants felt they

needed more locally relevant information before they would take action. One participant stated

that action would not be a priority "unless they were going to cut down my trees." Others would

wait and see what developed locally before taking any action, as expressed by this participant's

comment, "It would depend on what is happening. And what kind of [opportunity] it was to get

involved. But potentially, yeah, I would be interested."

Overall, this theme suggests that while the article was not specifically targeted toward one

community, most participants were interested enough after reading the article to learn more and

become involved in some way. While participants recognized that one article did not make them

experts, the article did spark enough interest and curiosity for participants to imagine themselves

becoming involved in the issue in ways that suit their comfort and knowledge levels. Participants

were also interested in learning more about the case study examples that were included in the

text. The inclusion of the procedural information along with the case study examples seemed to

help participants consider what actions they might take.

There are limitations to this theme that should be considered. First, after leaving the focus

group, the participants' motivation to perform these actions will have to be great enough to

overcome any barriers to taking action. In addition, the interview guide did not address

motivation to become involved until near the end of the discussion. In most groups, the

participants had been discussing how the article was written and the article content for about an

hour. Thus, the participants had been involved in an interactive discussion in addition to reading









the text, which may have affected how they imagine themselves being involved in the issue.

However, considering the overwhelming nature of energy issues and the helplessness that many

people feel to make a difference, the idea that participants wanted to learn more and become

involved in some actions is promising. In addition, these participants were not overly confident

and were able to recognize the limits to their knowledge about the issue.

Conclusion

This research investigated how text characteristics, especially the use interesting text, can

best be applied in written text to explain the issue of using wood for energy and to motivate

public involvement in the issue. The research questions of how citizens perceive interesting text

and their resulting motivation to get involved in the issue guided three focus group discussions.

Data analysis of the focus group discussions resulted in two themes: perceptions of interesting

text and motivation for involvement. The participants of this study do not represent the general

population, and participant characteristics should be recognized when considering the results and

lessons learned from these focus groups. These participants represent a portion of the population

who are interested in and may be vocal about environmental issues.

The "perceptions of interesting text" theme validates prior research that descriptive and

concrete examples within text can help readers process technical information and provide

relevant, meaningful, and familiar information. While all participants did not perceive the

interesting text as helpful, they did utilize the examples, locations, and people to discuss the

technical information and to consider energy possibilities. The descriptive examples and

locations allowed participants to learn from other communities about energy decisions and may

be a part of creating social norms.

Another facet of this theme is that participants did not find the people described in the

article as helpful as the examples. This may be a function of the issue's scale. Since energy









generation decisions are at the community level rather than individual level, the community

examples were utilized to consider the information. In other contexts, such as promoting the

individual behavior of carpooling, people and characters are effective at providing imagery about

how the behavior is performed (Kearney & De Young, 1994). Thus, the context and scale of the

issue can help educators decide whether to focus on creating vivid imagery about characters or

examples of communities. For community issues, people can be used to help explain the case

study example, but for these participants they do not appear to be a vital component of the

interesting text.

In addition, participants had suggestions for reorganizing the text and separating the fact-

based information and story-based information. One could imagine this as two totally different

sections of a document, or clarification of text segments could be created through graphic design

elements. The literature suggests that mixing short stories within factual text may be more

effective than one or the other alone (Kearney & De Young, 1994). If the facts are separated

from the stories, then the case study examples may not help to explain the expository text.

From the focus group discussions, the following lessons learned may help educators

develop effective text to explain complex natural resource issues:

* Provide structure or reader guidelines to clarify story-based and fact-based segments of
text. This may be achieved through headings, indentations, blocks of text, shaded boxes, or
font changes.

* Plan the use of emotion with careful consideration of how readers will perceive the
emotion. This may be especially important when the issue being discussed is contentious
or has multiple perspectives.

* Provide concrete, vivid, and relevant details for all examples and people. This will help
diverse audiences relate to the information.

* Provide fewer, more in-depth case study examples rather than many, short examples. This
will help the reader grasp the power of case study examples instead of becoming inundated
with examples.









* Consider the context and scale of the issue. This will help you know whether community-
level or individual-level details and imagery are appropriate.

* Include each character's credentials and levels of expertise if characters are used in the
text. This will help tell the reader why the person is included and important to the example.

The second theme revolved around participants' motivation to become involved in the

issue. This theme suggests that while the article was not targeted to one community, most

participants were interested enough after reading the article to want to learn more and become

involved in some way. Learning more and becoming involved in natural resource issues can help

create a more environmentally literate society. Perhaps with time and acquisition of new

knowledge, they will become more comfortable taking part in additional actions. In addition,

informal opportunities to share ideas, such as community forums (Monroe et al., 2007), might

lessen the perceived threat of interacting with community leaders in the traditional public

meeting format, which are sometimes perceived as unhelpful by the public (Toman et al., 2006).

Including procedural information for how citizens can get involved in the issue was an important

part of helping participants understand that issue involvement can take many forms.

Recognizing that participants had both read the text and been involved in a discussion

about the information is an important consideration for the "motivation to get involved" theme.

After reading an article nearly five pages long and participating in a two-hour discussion,

participants were still interested in learning more. The fact that the participants could imagine

themselves taking additional actions on this issue is a positive consideration for educators. In

addition, a national energy survey found that Americans are supportive of increasing energy

education (NEETF, 2002). Thus, providing the public with increased opportunities to consider

energy issues and potential solutions is an important task for environmental educators.

In conclusion, the use of interesting text and effective communication characteristics in

written text helped to inform and motivate these participants to learn more about the use of wood









for energy. For a complex, community-level issue, the use of interesting text characteristics

helped to make what may have been abstract and boring information palatable, memorable, and

relevant. The examples of other communities and places where wood is used for energy provided

participants with normative information that helped them consider the local possibilities and

learn from others. In addition, participants used the provided procedural information about how

to become involved in the issue to consider and imagine their own involvement. For similar

audiences and issues, this type of text may provide memorable and meaningful information and

may encourage more widespread public participation.









CHAPTER 4
CONCLUSION

This research investigated the use of written text to explain and motivate citizen

involvement about the option to use wood for energy. Three focus group discussions provided

in-depth understanding of how citizens perceive the information provided in the text and the use

of interesting text characteristics throughout the technical information. In addition, the

participants' motivation to continue being involved in the issue was explored. Five themes

emerged from analysis of the focus group transcriptions. This chapter reviews the five themes,

provides recommendations for practice, and identifies future research areas.

Key Research Findings

Five themes developed from the focus groups, which are briefly reviewed below:

MISTRUST. These participants had feelings of mistrust for forest and energy
industries, information sources, and government agencies. Thus, when they were
presented information about using wood for energy, they approached the
information with skepticism and were suspicious about the motive of the
information source.

THE RIGHT INFORMATION. Participants were not satisfied with the information that
was provided in the article. While the article was written to address common
questions and concerns, participants wanted more information to address their
specific ideas and questions. In addition, the text was ineffective at helping
address common misconceptions about using wood for energy.

BALANCE OF INFORMATION. The concerns of most participants were not
adequately addressed by the article. This, along with the fact the article only
discussed wood as an alternative energy source, led to the perception that the
article was biased toward the decision to choose wood as an energy source. In
addition, the opposing viewpoint in the article was not perceived as valuable since
it was easy to dismiss.

PERCEPTIONS OF INTERESTING TEXT. The case study examples were used by
participants to discuss and consider the use of wood for energy and were more
important to participants than the people or characters. The examples and
locations that were vividly and concretely described allowed the information to
become meaningful and relevant to the participants. In addition, participants
suggested the article be reorganized to clarify the fact-based information from the
story-based information.









MOTIVATION FOR INVOLVEMENT. Participants could imagine themselves taking
part in comfortable and informal actions that were suggested by the article. Most
participants were interested in learning more about the issue. Some participants
would only be interested in becoming involved if the issue was locally relevant.

Recommendations for Practice

First, considering these recommendations in the context they developed is important. In

qualitative research, results cannot be generalized to the population. In addition, the

transferability of results must be undertaken with caution (Krueger, 1998). Researchers and

practitioners should compare how these research participants and the issue of using wood for

energy compare to audiences and issues in question. Other community-level issues that may have

similar characteristics include the balance of urban growth and natural areas, water supply and

demand, and other renewable energy sources such as wind energy. The participants of this study

represent a portion of the population that are interested in environmental issues and may be

involved in expressing their ideas and concerns in decision-making processes.

While the use of interesting text characteristics was helpful and participants were

motivated to become further involved, mistrust, misconceptions, and perceptions of bias are key

considerations for those who want to educate about issues similar to using wood for energy.

These underlying feelings, beliefs, and perceptions influenced the way that information was

perceived by participants. Without addressing these considerations, the intended outcome of the

outreach effort may not be achieved, perhaps whether the text includes effective communication

characteristics or not. Therefore, for this issue and audience, educators must work to build trust,

address misconceptions, and provide open and objective information. These outcomes are best

achieved in interactive settings, such as community forums or discussion groups (Toman et al.,

2006; Wondolleck & Yaffee, 2000). In addition, the combination of personal contact when

distributing written materials or incorporating written materials into interactive outreach









activities may be helpful for building trust and answering individualized questions (McCaffrey,

2004; Wondolleck & Yaffee, 2000).

However, written materials remain an important component in environmental education

and outreach. This research suggests that it is important to develop text that strives to be

transparent about the motives of all involved parties. In addition, adequately covering key

concerns, and then recognizing that there are probably several more concerns that can not be

adequately addressed in the text may be helpful. The author could also provide multiple

resources for finding out more information about the briefly mentioned concerns. In addition, all

examples and people should be given equal treatment in terms number, text space, and argument

strength. Providing both positive examples of where wood is being successfully used for energy

and examples where communities decided not to use wood for energy may help to create a more

balanced argument.

Several recommendations for incorporating interesting text characteristics into technical,

complex information also developed from this research. First, graphic design elements can be

utilized to help readers clarify and transition between story-based and fact-based segments of

text. Providing fewer examples, with concrete, vivid, and relevant details may provide more

meaningful information than several superficial or generalized examples. Finally, the context and

scale of the issue and intended outcome for the audience can help determine whether to focus on

examples of communities or individual people or characters. If the issue or decision is at the

community-level, then providing descriptive and imaginative examples of other communities is

more relevant than describing individual people within the examples. In these cases, the people

are only included to help explain and breathe life into the example.









The characteristics that help to create interest in text may also unknowingly increase the

perceptions of bias when the issue at hand is controversial. When using emotion to describe a

person or character, authors must carefully consider how readers may perceive the emotion. For

example, developing characters that are happy and proud of their job may make them seem

biased toward one side of the issue. This is an important consideration for educators who are

addressing complex natural resource issues that have multiple perspectives.

Future Research

The results of this research contribute to the fields of environmental education, Extension

and community outreach, interestingness of text, and written communication. Several

opportunities for additional research are apparent. Exploring different audiences, different issues,

and bias are all interesting research areas that could enrich our understanding of communicating

and educating about complex issues. When considering bias, research could investigate whether

written materials can be developed that are perceived as unbiased by an audience who has

mistrust for the involved parties and is prone to feel strongly about the issue. Similarly,

investigating if materials that are produced for a particular purpose, and thus promote a specific

ideology, can be perceived as unbiased is an areas of future research.

To determine the generalizability of these results, the article developed for this research

could be quantitatively tested with different audiences. Another interesting addition to this

research would be to provide similar participants with a document that does not contain

interesting text characteristics and investigate whether the similar feelings of mistrust and

perceptions of bias occur. Likewise, while only one document with varying text characteristics

was tested in this research, two or more documents exhibiting different text characteristics could

be tested using either qualitative or quantitative studies. This would allow for more in-depth

comparison of text characteristics. Finally, text could be developed to reflect the









recommendations of these research findings, and this document could be tested to determine its

effectiveness.











APPENDIX A
WOOD TO ENERGY ARTICLE

Article


University of Florida, IFAS Extension
Fact Sheet


Can Wood Help Meet Our Energy Challenges?


i)NLta; Americans are concerned about global
warming and -lihe rkiinh cost of energy. Recent
newspaper he.iidlijie,.. such as "Eueray Crunch on the
Way" and "Can Alternative Fuels Delay Global
Warming?" reinforce such concerns. Solutions to the
growing crisis, however, are not obvious. Citizens
are increasingly frustrated with the situation, but
they are often hunipei ed by the complexity of energy
issues and a lack of access to alternatives.

2)Helping community leaders consider different
sources of energy is one way citizens can be a part
of developing solutions to growing energy needs.
Gaining a better understanding about possible
energy sources is often the first step. While
communities should consider all feasible energy
sources that could meet their needs. this fact sheet
introduces one option. using wood for energy. It
features examples of communities and people that
are involved in the field of using wood to generate
heat, power, and electricity.

Can wood be part of the solution?
3)Al,:l]_i l using wood may not be the right solution
for all communities, it may be one option for
communities interested in local, renewable sources of
energy. Even advocates of woody biomass as an
energy source accept that it does not represent a silver-
bullet solution Many scientists agree that no one
solution (such as solar, nuclear, wind, or wood) can
solve our energy challenges alone. The question is not
which of ihese lc-ei iv sources should be used, but how
can we use feasible alternatives in combination to
*0olleiit.el ineel flt nittre eiei _"v needs and reduce
greenhouse gas emissions-

4)Popuil.-l oins are growing and areas of urban
development are increasing. Between 2004 and
2005, the South was home to 64 of the 100 fastest-
growing counties in the nation (BerirI cii 2006,P
Within these growing comnunmities, new homes,
hospitals. and schools create demands for additional
energy (Figure 1). In fact, by 2030 the U.S. is
projected to use 34 percent more energy than we use
today (EIA 2007). Currently, fossil fuels (petroleum
products, natural gas, and coal) generate most of the
nation's energy. Fossil fuels have many advantages,
such as portability, relatively low economic cost.
and existing infrastructures. However, fossil fuels


Photo courtesy of greenhouse.gov.

are a limited resource, are subject to cost
fluctuations, and emit greenhouse gases that
scientists link with climate change.

5)A, communities seek better methods to meet
energy demands, part of the solution will include
using renewable energy sources (such as biomass,
wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, and solar). Each
renewable energy source can play a role in shifting
the nation toward a more secure and sustainable
energy supply. The feasibility of using a particular
energy source may depend on the local availability
of that source. environmental impacts, technology,
cost, economic impacts. and community acceptance.

6)\Voo.IN bioiu -._s is one source of renewable energy
that may be a possibility for some communities.
Woody biomass is plant material from trees and
shrubs and can be obtained from several sources
(Table 1). Interest in using wood for energy stems
largely from the idea that wood is a locally produced
and renewable resource that is available for harvest
every month of the year in most parts of the South.

How can wood be used for energy?
7)_A community can use woody biomass to produce
energy for residential. commercial, and industrial
purposes. Wood-fueled facilities are typically
smaller than most coal and natural gas facilities and
produce less than 80 megawatts (MW) of electrical
power, which is enough to power more than 32,000
homes per year. Craven County Wood Energy is an
example of a facility that produces 50 MW of
electrical power from biomass every day. This
power plant is located near New Bern, North


WOOD. -
t- ENERGY












Carolina, a quaint historic town of about 25.000
residents just outside of the Croaton National Forest.
Forests surround the power plant. and about 61
percent of the county consists of timberland. Plant
Manager Paul Garrett explains that his facility uses
more than 500.000 tons of waste wood per year.
Standing near a massive pile of wood chips and
several conveyor lines, Garrett proudly speaks of
how his plant uses a waste resource. "Much of this
wood would have ended up in county landfills.
Instead we use it to supply energy, offsetting the
demand on fossil fuel resources." he explains.

Table 1. Potential Sources of Woody Biomass
1. Urban waste wood
yard tnmmmgs
power line trnimmngs
land-clearing debns
storm damage debris
2. Forestry residues
foiL i ijiluniunj Jiotei..il
branches from harvesting
sawmill and factory wastes
3. Wood grown specifically for energy

a)SR ice wood resources vary by location. some
communities may not have enough wood to support
a large facility like Craven County Wood Eneir'..
Ho elei, they may have enough wood to use in a
smaller facility. like a hospital, school, or industry.
Since the 1980's. Rowan County High School in
Morehead Kentucky, for example, has been using
sawdust to heat the high school building and a
nearby vocational technical institute. Today, the
school uses more than 750 tons of sawdust aiiiuaUy.
There are, of course, many factors that must be
considered when weighing wood as a potential
energy option. Communities that are exploring this
option might consider the following questions: what
are the expected energy needs, what type of local
facility could use wood, and what are the local
sources of woody biomass?

Does your community have enough
wood to consider a wood-to-energy
project?
9)Man1i scientists are working to help communities
estimate how much wood is locally available and
how much energy it could generate. Dr. Matt
Langholtz is a project director with BioResource
Management who researches the economic
availability of wood. Sitting in his office. he


describes the colorful figures displayed on his
computer screen. "I created supply curves using
three sources of woody biomass-urban waste
wood, logging residues, and pulpwood." he says.
"The supply curves show how much wood is
economically available within a one-hour radius of
the county's center. For example, this supply curve
for Santa Rosa County, Florida suggests that there is
enough wood within a one-hour radius to produce 13
MW of electricity at a cost competitive with coal.
which is enough to power 5,000 homes per year. The
data are location specific, due to variations in county
size, forest cover, and forestry practices."

m])As Matt opens another computer file containing
several tables, he continues, "An average county
population size in the South of 75,000 residents
produces about 9,000 dry tons of urban waste wood
per year. This is enough fuel to power more than 400
homes per year. The U.S. Department of Energy's
Billion Ton Report estimates that about 8 million dry
tons of wood currently grown for conventional
timber products could be used for energy
nationwide. This could be enough fuel to power
more than 500.000 homes per year."

1 l\While having enough wood is often the first
consideration when deciding whether or not to use
wood for energy, an equally important factor for
communities to consider is how nearby forests and
the environment will be affected. Forested
landscapes provide multiple benefits. from wildlife
habitat to cleaner air and water (Figure 2). Many
citizens value the natural areas that surround their
community and are concerned about forest
sustainability.
aHIllll -- I M if1 n-ilmuA r I m16.Aa4z WMu


Figure 2I Forested landscapes provide both social and environmental
benefits.













Can we use wood for energy and still
keep our forests?
2)There are diverse perspectives on forest
management and sustainability. For example, people
iuan fear ihnt iu in2g wood over time will increase
negative environmental impacts, such as land-use
changes, reduced soil fertility, and degraded wildlife
habitats. Some environmental organizations are
reluctant to support using wood for energy.
According to Sid Cullipher. Executive Director of
Dogwood Alliance, an environmental group
dedicated to the protection of Southern foi e- T4. there
is already an enormous amount of pressure on
forests to provide timber and pulp. "To think that we
can also use the forests to provide for our substantial
and growing energy needs is a recipe for massive
forest devastation. Increased demand for wood for
energy could lead to greater conversion of natural
forests to plaIura.1ion-, which k ill result in increased
loss of natural forests. It could also shift forestry for
wood products to developing countries, increasing
natural forest loss locally and globally," he says.
Some people who are concerned about forest
sustainability believe that adding additional demands
on the resource, such as using wood for energy, will
eliminate the potential for sustainability.

13)AL'other perspectli e is that forests can be
sustainably managed to lessen negative impacts.
increase long-term yields, and conserve natural
areas. Dr. Patrick Miuocue. a forest scientist,
explains, "I believe that sustainable forest
management practices can provide both wood
products and environmental services, such as
watershed protection, wildlife habitat. aesthetics, and
recreation. Through good management practices, the
environment can not only be protected, but
enhanced. Pulpwood markets are declining, and
forest landowners need incentives to keep their lands
forested and out of developer's hands." Thus,
important considerations for communities are
healtby forests, sustainable management practices.
land-use changes, and the economic markets that
may drive land-use changes.
14) Aiu quality is another important aspect of energy
production. Many people worry that using wood for
eueray N ill produce a lot of air polhlnon. which is a
valid concern. When wood is burned in fireplaces.
wood stoves, or in open areas, the irregular and
inefficient combustion emits smoke and ash.
Burning wood in a wood-powered facility allows the
temperature, moisture level, and size of wood


particles to be controlled. Energy facilities are also
required to have air emission control devices to
capture and filter pollution.

i s)Cou\ eui lojna I ", ood- fued power plants produce
some of the same emissions as coal-fired power
plants including carbon dioxide and carbon
monoxide, but produce very little sulfur and mercury
and lower levels of nitrogen oxides (U.S. EPA
2006). Also, as long as new trees grow in place of
those used for wood energy, wood does not
contribute carbon dioxide to the atmosphere,
meaning it is a carbon-neutral energy source
* Matthew s and Robertson 2005). The type of wood
fuel, power plant, and emissions control technology
used determine both the emissions produced and the
overall impacts on air quality.

How is wood carbon neutral?
l)A\:d. coal, and natural gas are made of carbon-
based compounds. Bi ailing them I elea;es carbon.
which becomes carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
The difference between wood and fossil fuels is that
the carbon released by burning or decomposing
wood has been recently circulating ltiroiil the
atmosphere. Growing plants and animals absorb and
release carbon everyday- and cv lin W itu amount of
carbon is a benefit that our ecosystems provide
(Figure 3). Fossil fuels release fossilized carbon that
has been out of the system for millions of years,
This newly released carbon, when added to the
atmosphere, is thought to be responsible for a
significant amount of the changing global climate
(UNEP 1997).


rlgmui .4iuUu ctLaUuousuMy tyuLIc uuuugu uvnmg
orgamsms, soils, oceans, and the atmosphere.
Illustration courtesy of Windows to the Universe,
http://www.windows.ucar.edu.












I 7)Along with environmental considerations,
communities may need to consider the potential
economic impacts of using wood.

How does using wood for energy affect
our local economy?
la)When and where it is readily available on a
sustainable basis. wood can cost about the same or
less than other energy sources. In addition, using
wood for ener y can provide communities with
economic benefits, such as local job creation.
-AIreLi1tbened forestry markets, and increased
economic activity with more money remaining in the
local community.

l9)Foi example, Ridge Generating Station employs
40 full-time workers and 10 laborers. The facility is
located between Orlando and Tampa. two of the
fastest-growing cities in Florida. Using waste wood
and scrap tires, the facility generates 40 MW of
power. The plant manager. Phil Tuohy. estimates the
facility has a regional economic impact of more than
$6 million a year.

20)Noi rlhn e.t Missouri State University also uses
wood for energy, which influences the local
economy. The university is located among the
rolling hills, forests, and farmland in the small town
of Maryville and serves about 6,500 students. James
Teaney supervises the university's energy system.
which uses wood chips to heat and cool campus
buildings. He has been keeping the system running
smoothly for more than 10 years. Teaney smiles as
he waves one of his truck drivers through the gate at
the facility. Closing the gate, he says, "By usiIng
local wood resources, the university has saved over
$375,000 per year for the past 20 years. I feel that
just as important is the fact that we use a locally
controlled, secure energy source and that the money
we pay our local suppliers stays in northwest
Missouri."

21.uddi etssiLu community perspectives and concerns
about energy options is an important step toward
developing a comprehensive and sustainable energy
plan. An energy plan will not win community
acceptance without first addressing citizens'
concerns. Thus, additional questions for
communities to consider are: how can community
members become involved in the dec isiou-niaking
process and how can energy plans reflect their
values, concerns, and ideas?


How can you influence your
community's energy plan?
rhJln Burlington. Vermont, concerns and ideas from
the local community helped to shape decisions
regarding the 50 MW wood-fueled utility hlar
provides power to the area (Figure 4). Local resident
Tom Hudspeth remembers the community meetings
to design the McNeil Generating Station. "Lots of
folks were not happy; % ili the idea of burning trees.
They did not have a sense of how much wood is
locally available. They had concerns about the
impacts on nearby forests," he says. However, wood
was not disregarded as a potential energy source,
Tom continues. "We learned about the issues and
got involved in the local energy discussions. In
response, the utility worked with us to address our
concerns. They developed strict environmental
standards regarding tree harvests, promising to
purchase only wood that is harvested in compliance
with these standards. They also hired four foresters
to make sure that the wood comes from timber stand
improvements. So. we are able to obtain energy fi'om
wood resources while ensuring local forest health
and sustainability," he says.

23)Auot0her major community concern was increased
truck traffic tlhroiA.h suburban streets for wood
delivery. The utility agreed to receive 75 percent of
all deliveries by rail from a remote loading yard 35
miles away, even though it meant a 20 percent
increase in transportation costs. Today. two-thirds of
the energy consumed in Burlington comes from
wood and other renewable sources.


Figure 4. This wood-to-energy facility in Burlington, Vermont,
addressed citizen concerns within their energy plan. Photo
courtesy of McNeil Generating Station.













24)W\ilhii the option to use wood for energy
2enei aniou, several choices exist, such as facility size
and location, wood transportation methods, sources
of wood, and standards for sustainable forest
management. As Tom Hudspeth explains, citizen
involvement is a key component in de dclopuig an
acceptable energy system.

2j)t" your community is considering the use of wood
for energy, there are several ways that you can
become involved in the local discussions. Learning
more about options for energy production and the
current use of energy in your community is an
important first step. This helps you have informed
opinions about local energy options. Other ways to
get involved include
attending public meetings/forums that discuss
enei ay choices;
discussing the topic with family, neighbors, and
friends:
touring your local power plant:
visiting and learning about a sustainably
managed forest:
writing a letter to your community leaders:
responding to a news article with a letter to the
editor of the newspaper: or
discussing your perspectives with community
leaders and industry officials.


26) Tc learn more about this topic, visit
wwwin mterfacesouth. org/woodybiomass or
'. foi esibiceiieCie.: ne i You can also search the
internet or your local library using phrases such as
"using wood for euetic or r ei. i abie eue i ." In
addition, you can contact your community leaders
and energy officials who may be able to provide local
information about energy choices.


Summary
27)(1 oinuniiry decisions about energy require careful
consideration. Every enei ,, source has associated
advantages and disadvantages. Wood can be
considered with other energy sources to meet energy
demands and move toward sustainable fuel supplies.
L_ ito woody biomass is not the only option, but
maybe part of a solution for some conmunmities.
Table 2 summarizes the potential concerns and
benefits of using wood for eniei a thlia are introduced
in this fact sheet.


Table 2. Concerns and Benefits of Wood for Energy
Potential Concerns
Where will the wood come from?
Is there enough wood?
W\ll we lose our forests?
How will air quality be affected?
What about soil fertility and wildlife habitat?
How will the wood be It ipipr'ecld'
How will using v. ood .1 ffe' my electric bill?
Potential Benefits
Renewable and locally-produced energy source
Useful way to manage "waste wood"
Lower mercury, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur
dioxide air emission levels than fossil fuels
Carbon-neutral fuel source
Local job creation
Potential for positive regional economic impacts
Additional wood market for forest landowners


8)Siitalintble energy supplies, environmental
quality, economic impacts, and community
acceptability are key concerns in community energy
discussions. By working tlu ou gb the issues and
discussing all possible choices together, citizens,
leaders, and industries can find new solutions to
meet energy demands and create a more sustainable
future.

References
Bernstein, R. 2006. Florida's Flagler County fastest-growing
once again. News Release. US Census Bureau News.
Washington. DC.
Energy Information Agency, Department of Energy
(EIA).2007. www.eia.org (accessed on July 30, 2007).
Matthews, R. and K. Robertson. 2005. Answers to ten
frequently asked questions about bioenergy, carbon sinks
and their role in global climate change. IEA Bioenergy,
Tas.k 3 hnIrp ,ni- eabio-ergey-
ti-l, or10 publicaiIons tq' (accessed on May 8, 2007).
Perlack, R. et al. 2005. Biomass as feedstock for a bioenergy
and bioproducts industry: the technical feasibility of a
billion-ton annual supply. Report Number: ORNLITM-
2005/66. 1-78. Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Oak
Ridge, TN.
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). World
Meteorological Organization. 1997. Common questions
about cliiiiale liange
http://www.gcno.orgiipcc/qa/index.htm (accessed May 8,
2007).
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 2006. Elticirir.
from non-hydroelectric renewable energy sources.
http://www epa 0o' clears'g retnet 1huu=bio',uia
(accessed May 3, 2007).









Interesting Text Variation


Characters/People
Setting description vivid, 1st person with quotes:
Paul Garrett (paragraph 7)
Matt Langholtz (paragraph 9)
James Teaney (paragraph 20)

Setting description not vivid, 1st person with quotes:
Tom Hudspeth (paragraph 22)

Setting description not vivid, 3rd person with no quotes:
Phil Tuohy (paragraph 19)

No setting, 1st person with quotes:
Sid Cullipher (paragraph 12)
Patrick Minogue (paragraph 13)

Locations
Location description concrete and vivid:
New Bern, North Carolina (paragraph 7)
Maryville, Missouri (paragraph 20)

Location description, not vivid:
Burlington, Vermont (paragraph 22)
Morehead, Kentucky (paragraph 8)
Orlando and Tampa, Florida (paragraph 19)

Generalized locations throughout text:
The South
Florida, Georgia, and Texas
Average County with 75,000 residents
Counties with moderate forest industry
Nationwide
Kentucky

Case Study Examples
Craven County Wood Energy (paragraph 7)
Rowan County High School (paragraph 8)
Ridge Generating Station (paragraph 19)
Northwest Missouri State University (paragraph 20)
McNeil Generating Station (paragraph 22, 23)

Vivid, Descriptive Paragraphs
Paragraphs 7, 9, 20









APPENDIX B
EXPERT REVIEW

Thank you for your assistance in reviewing this fact sheet. I will use this fact sheet in focus groups to
engage participants in discussion about the effect of some text characteristics, particularly the use of
characters and imagery of locations on creating informed opinions and empowering citizens to become
involved in natural resource issues.

This fact sheet is trying to explain a technical issue to the general public just like a traditional extension
fact sheet. The purpose is to give readers a variety of text characteristics while objectively informing them
about using wood for energy. Your review of the fact sheet will help ensure that the text does or does not
contain certain text characteristics.

This should take about 45 minutes to complete. This review is anonymous, so please do not write your
name anywhere on the documents.

Table 1 lists characteristics that may be located throughout the fact sheet. Please rate your level of
agreement with each statement. Write the corresponding number for your rating in the space provided.

Table 2 lists characteristics that may be evident in some paragraphs of the fact sheet and not in other.
Please write the numbers of the paragraphs where the statements below apply. You need not write down
every paragraph number, just the ones that are most obvious.

Comments on your rating are welcome and encouraged. Notice that the paragraphs on the fact sheet are
numbered, so you can easily refer to locations in the text.



Please return the review to me by campus mail by November 2n.
Annie Oxarart, School of Forest Resources and Conservation
PO Box 110410

Or place it in my mail box in the graduate student mailroom (2nd floor of Newins-Ziegler Hall)

Please let me know if you have any questions. I can be contacted at oxarart@ufl.edu or 904-540-2861.

Thank you very much!

Annie







Table B-1. Text characteristics for expert review.
Text characteristics Ratings: Comments
l=Strongly Disagree; 2=Disagree;
3=Neutral; 4=Agree; 5=Strongly Agree
A The fact sheet asks the reader relevant questions
about the topic.
B The text is free of technical j argon.
C Information is understandable.
D The text is easy to read.
E The background information is sufficient to
understand the issue of using wood for energy.
F The information is sufficient to understand the
costs of the issue.
G The information is sufficient to understand the
benefits of the issue.
H The information is overwhelmingly complex.
I The information is biased.
J The text makes the issue personally relevant to the
reader.
K The title is appropriate for the fact sheet.
L The title is interesting.
M The introduction is attention grabbing.
N The introduction entices the reader to continue
reading.
0 The introduction presents a problem that needs to
be addressed.
P An overarching storyline can be detected
throughout the fact sheet (problem leading
through series of trial solutions to a possible
solution).
Q The same information is repeated throughout the
sections.
R The sections effectively lead the reader to a
possible solution of the problem.
S Each section concludes with a promise of new
information, enticing the reader to continue.








Table B-1. Continued.
Text characteristics Ratings: Comments
l=Strongly Disagree; 2=Disagree;
3=Neutral; 4=Agree; 5=Strongly Agree
T The conclusion effectively summarizes the reasons
to consider one possible solution to the problem
presented in the introduction.
U Transitions are used between the sections.
V Transitions are effective at connecting the sections.
W The fact sheet is visually attractive
X The photographs enhance the text.
Z Specific reasons to learn the information are
articulated.
Al The text gives the reader reasons to the involved in
the issue.
B 1 Implications of being involved in the issue are
given in the text.
2 Cl Procedural information for becoming involved in
the issue is provided.







Table B-2. Paragraph characteristics for expert review.
Paragraph Characteristics Paragraph Numbers
a The text is vivid. I can imagine the
information.
b The text is not vivid. I can not
imagine the information.
c The characters are described well
enough that you can imagine
talking to them.
d The characters are not described
well enough that you can
imagine talking to them.
e Locations are described well
enough that you get a feeling
for the area.
f Locations are not described well
enough that you get a feeling
for the area.


Comments










APPENDIX C
FOCUS GROUP RECRUITMENT PROCESS

Organizations Contacted for Participant Recruitment

Civic Media Center
Clean Water Action Network
Current Problems
Florida Trail Association, Florida Cracker Chapter
Friends of Nature Parks
Friends of Paynes Prairie
Kiwanis Club
League of Women Voters
Master Gardeners, Alachua County
Oak Hammock Retirement Community
Rotary Club
Sierra Club
Sustainable Alachua County
Wilhelmina Johnson Resource Center
Women for Wise Growth

Flyer for Participant Recruitment


Research Participation Opportunity


Join the Discussion!


What: Volunteers are needed for focus groups for
University of Florida research.
Why: To explore how written fact sheets change public
perceptions and affect willingness to become involved in
community-based natural resource issues.
Who: Any adult Alachua County resident who is willing to
read a short fact sheet about a local natural resource
issue and share their ideas in a guided informal
discussion.
When: Focus groups will be held in the early afternoon
or evening during late October, early November 2007.
Volunteers will participate in a discussion that lasts no
longer than 2 hours. Specific times & dates will be based
in part on the availability of potential participants.
Dinner or Lunch will be provided during the
-meeting. Also, you will receive energy-saving
light bulbs for your participation.

For more information or to participate, please
contact Annie Oxarart at 352-372-3842 or /
oxarart@ufl.edu.









Recruitment Announcement


Would you like to volunteer for a focus group for University of Florida research? For my
thesis research, I am exploring how written fact sheets influence public perceptions and
willingness to become involved in community-based natural resource issues. To obtain
information about this topic, I am conducting focus groups with residents of Alachua
County. Participants will need to be willing to read a short fact sheet and share their ideas
in an informal discussion. In addition, participants should be interested or active in
community issues. The focus group will last no longer than 2 hours. Participants will
receive energy saving light bulbs and lunch as compensation for participation! Focus
groups are currently scheduled for December 8th and December 15th and will be held in
the morning and afternoon. For more information or to participate, please contact Annie
Oxarart at 352-372-3842 or oxarart@ufl.edu.



Letter Mailed to Interested Volunteers

October 29th, 2007

Dear interested participant,

Thank you for your recent interest in participating in a focus group for University of
Florida research. I have included the following information with this letter.

Consent Letter: This provides you with information about the focus group. If you choose
to participate, please sign this letter and bring it with you to the focus group. The
additional copy is for your records.

Participant Questionnaire: To participate, please take a moment to fill this out. Send the
completed questionnaire back to me in the stamped envelope.

After I receive your participant questionnaire, I will schedule you for a focus group time
and provide you with directions to the focus group location.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Thank you,

Annie Oxarart










Interested Volunteer Questionnaire


Thank you for your interest in participating in the upcoming focus groups. Please take a moment
to fill out this questionnaire. This information will ensure that the focus groups represent a
diversity of Alachua County residents and that participants are among the people we are trying to
reach. Your identity will be kept confidential to the extent provided by law and will only be used
for placing you into one of the focus group time slots. The questionnaire will take less than 5
minutes.

Your Name

Contact Information (phone or email)

1. How interested in community issues do you consider yourself?
D Not at all interested D Fairly interested
D Somewhat interested D Very interested

2. How active in community issues do you consider yourself?
D Not at all active D Fairly active
D Somewhat active D Very active

3. What is your residential zip code?

4. How old are you?
D < 18 years D 50-64 years
D 19-29 years D 65-79 years
D 30-39 years D > 80 years
D 40-49 years

5. What is your sex?
D Male
D Female

6. What is your race or ethnicity?
D White and non Hispanic D Black/African American
D Asian D Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander
D Native American D Latino/Hispanic (of any race)
D Other (Please specify) 11 Multiple races or ethnicities

7. Please check the highest level of education you have completed.
D Less than a high school diploma D Bachelor's degree
D High school diploma or equivalent D Master's degree
D Some college credit D Professional degree
D Associate degree D Doctorate


Thank you for providing this information. Please return it in the envelope provided as soon
as possible. You will be contacted shortly with the date and time of the focus group.











APPENDIX D
IRB PROTOCOL

Protocol Approval Letter


[t Institutional Review Board Po Box 112250
U UI NI1VIR5IT of FLORIDA GCinesvile, FL 32611.2250
352 392 0433 (Phone)
352-392-92V ,
i rb2m*ufl,edu


DATE' October 9, 2007

TO: Annie Oxarart
PO Box 110410
Campus

FROM: Ira S. Fischler, PhD; ChairJ
Jniversity of Florida \
institutionall Review Board

SUBJECT: Approval of Protocol #2007-U-OB99

TITLE: Fact Sheet Focus Groups
SPONSOR Wood to Energy Outreach Program, a cooperative agreement with USDA Forest
Service

I am pleased to advise you that the University of Florida Institutional Review Board has
recommended approval of this protocol. Based on its review, the UFIRB determined that this
research presents no more than minimal risk to participants. Given your protocol. it is
essential that you obtain signed documentation of Informed consent from each participant.
Enclosed Is the dated, IRB-approved informed consent to be used when recruiting participants
for the research.

It is essential that each of your participants sign a copy of your approved informed |
consent that bears the IR approval stamp and expiration date.


If you wish to make any changes to this protocol, ,-.-udi.a. the need to increase the number
of participants .wthrojzed., you must disclose your plans before you implement them so That
the Board can assess their impact on your protocol. In addition, you must report to the Board
any unexpected complications that affect your participants.

If you have not completed this protocol by October 1. 2008, please telephone our office
0392-04331. and we wilt discuss the renewal process with you. It is important that you keep
your Department Chair informed about the status of this research protocol.

ISF:dl








kmtp Eqr~I U ,Opcrrunlt JIn~il.iln










Letter of Informed Consent


School of Forest Resources and Conservation
PO Box 110410
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611

Dear Focus Group Participant:

I am a graduate student at the University of Florida. As part of my thesis
research, I am exploring how text-based fact sheets change perceptions and
willingness to participate in complex community-based natural resource issues.
To obtain information about this topic, I am conducting focus groups with
residents of Alachua County I am asking you to participate in this focus group
because you are an adult resident of Alachua County and you are associated
with a community organization The focus group will last no longer than 2 hours.
A focus group is similar to a group interview, containing 6 to 8 participants I will
moderate the focus group by using a few general questions and I will listen to the
discussion The use of a focus group enables the participants to bounce ideas off
of each other and come up with comments they might not have generated on
their own. It will be an informal process (more informal than this letter!).

You will not have to answer any question you do not wish to answer. The focus
group will be conducted in Gainesville where it wil be easy to park. Please bring
this signed consent with you to the focus group. With your permission. I would
like to audiotape and possibly videotape the focus group. Only the researchers in
my group will have access to the tapes which I will personally transcribe,
removing any identifiers during transcription The tapes will then be erased. Your
identity will be kept confidential to the extent provided by law, and your identity
will not be revealed in my thesis or any related publication.

There are no anticipated risks or direct benefits to you as a participant in this
focus group. We can offer you a bit of compensation, however. You will receive
compact fluorescent light bulbs and a meal (either lunch or dinner, depending on
your focus group time) as compensation for your participation. You are free to
withdraw your consent to participate and may discontinue your participation in
the focus group at any time without consequence

If you have any questions about this research protocol, please contact me at
352-846-0873 or my faculty supervisor, Dr. Martha Monroe at 352-846-0878.
Questions or concerns about your rights as a research participant rights may be
directed to the IRB02 office, University of Florida, Box 112250, Gainesville. FL
32611; (352) 392-0433

Please sign and bring this copy of the consent letter to the focus group. A second
copy is provided for your records. By signing this letter, you give me permission
to report your responses anonymously in my thesis manuscript, which will be
submitted to my faculty committee and to the University of Florida.
Approved by
University of Florida
Institutional Review Board 02
Protocol # 2007-U-0899
Use Through 10/01/2008










Thank you for your valued assistance!


Annie Oxarart


I have read the procedure described above for the Fact Sheet Focus Groups- I
voluntarily agree to participate in the focus group. and I have received a copy of
this description.


Signature of Participant


Date










APPENDIX E
WORKSHEET

Part of the focus group discussion will be about the examples, people, and locations introduced
in the fact sheet. Please take a moment to fill in this worksheet. Feel free to look back to the fact
sheet if you don't remember this information.

People and Examples: Write the letter of the description that matches the person or example
from the fact sheet.

Descriptions

A. Uses sawdust to heat their buildings and nearby
technical institute buildings E. Involved in energy discussions in Burlington,
Vermont
B. Believes in the use of sustainable forest
management practices F. Believes using wood for energy is not sustainable

C. Is proud of how Craven County Wood Energy G. Plant manager at Ridge Generating Station
uses a waste material for energy
H. Researches the economic availability of wood
D. Has worked at Northwest Missouri State
University for over 10 years

People or Examples

Paul Garrett, Plant Manager (paragraph 7)

Rowan County High School (paragraph 8)

Dr. Matt Langholtz, Research Project Manager (paragraphs 9 and 10)

Sid Cullipher, Executive Director of an environmental organization (paragraph 12)

Dr. Patrick Minogue, Forest Scientist (paragraph 13)

Phil Tuohy, Plant Manager (paragraph 19)

James Teaney, Energy System Supervisor (paragraph 20)

Tom Hudspeth, Citizen in Burlington, Vermont (paragraph 22)


Locations

Where is wood being used for energy?





Where could wood be used for energy?









APPENDIX F
INTERVIEW GUIDE

Welcome and Participants Read Fact Sheet

Thank the participants for coming. Introduce myself and the assistant.

Our discussion will last no longer than 2 hours. The bathrooms are located_ We will have
lunch after the focus group.

The purpose of the focus group is to learn more about how text-based fact sheets effect public
perceptions and willingness to participate in complex community-based natural resource issues. I
will analyze the discussion we have here today to gather data for my thesis. During the analysis,
I will remove any information regarding your identity. In this way, your answers will be
anonymous. You have all been given a letter with this information. Does anyone have any
questions about the research? Has everyone signed the letter?

Before we begin our discussion, I would like you all to read a short fact sheet about using wood
for energy. When you finish reading, I have a few questions on this worksheet for you to answer.
You can stay in this room, go sit on the couch in the hall, or use the picnic table outside. This
may take about 25 minutes. When you are done, come back to this room.

Wait until everyone returns and has answered the questions to begin introduction.

Introduction

So, now we will begin the discussion portion of the focus group. I am going to ask some
questions and feel free to respond openly and honestly. There are no right or wrong answers to
these questions. You can respond directly to the question, and I encourage you to respond to
other participant's answers in order to build upon the discussion. My role is to guide to the
discussion and make sure that everyone has a chance to share their ideas, not to provide
information about using wood. The purpose of our discussion is to talk about how the fact sheet
is written. If you have specific questions and comments about using wood for energy, we can
write them down and talk after the focus group or during lunch, and I have folders that contain
additional information that you are welcome to take home.

If it is ok with everyone, I will record the discussion we have here today. Do I have everyone's
permission to record the discussion? Please make sure you speak clearly and loudly so that we
can all hear each other, and so that your voice is picked up by the recorder. Does anyone have
any questions about the process?

Turn on recorder(s).

Opening Question









1. To get started let's go around the room and introduce ourselves. Tell us your name, how
long you have lived in Alachua County, and briefly tell us about your interest or
involvement in community issues.

In-depth Questions

A. General reaction to fact sheet

2. In general, what did you think about the fact sheet?

Possible Prompts:
What were some of the topics that you remember?
Was it interesting? (Might need to give them the comparison fact sheets.)
What did you like about it?
What did you not like about it?

B. Examples, People, and Locations in the Fact sheet

Have a list of all the people and locations and their paragraph # 's on flip chart paper.

3. Now, I would like you to think about the examples, people, and locations that were
mentioned in the fact sheet. These lists show all the people and locations used in the fact
sheet and the paragraph numbers where they are found.

How closely do you identify/relate with the people and locations in the fact sheet?

Possible Prompts:
Which person made an impression on you? What kind of impression?
Which person did you like? What about the person did you like?
Which person did you dislike? What about the person did you not like?
Which person did you feel like you learned the most from?
What sort of places can you imagine using wood for energy?
Which communities seem like a place you know? What makes you feel that way?

C. Willingness/Motivation to Get Involved

4. Some people don't know how to get involved in community issues or don't feel like their
participation could make a difference. What information in the fact sheet might motivate
you or increase your willingness to become involved in community discussions?

Possible Prompts:
Can you imagine what you could do to become involved?
Which parts of the fact sheet are effective at this?
What would make this a more powerful tool for encouraging public involvement?
What would you change about the fact sheet?









Ask the participants to point out relevant paragraphs, examples, characters, or locations
in the fact sheet.

D. Organizations and Changes in Perceptions

Pass around the front pages n ith the logos/header.

5. If the fact sheet has the information that is at the top of the page, would this change the
way you think about the fact sheet?

E. Closure

Summarize/link together key points of discussion. Remember to get agreement for any
assumptions/ideas that you were not stated by participants.

Is that an accurate summary of our discussion? Does anyone have anything else to add?
Thank participants again.

If anyone has questions about the use of wood for energy, feel free to ask them now or
during lunch.










APPENDIX G
DATA MATRIX


Table G-1. Data matrix used in analysis.
Related Theme Code Code definition Descriptive data summary Group and Interpretation
research number of
question people


How do Mistrust MTRST Mistrust in indus y


citizens
perceive the
information
provided in the
written text?


experts, government


SPIRAL May get out of
control, mistrust of
predictions







CRED University is credible
source of information


AGENDA Source of information
or FUND may want to promote
wood, who funded the
article


Skeptical can control what
they say, forest
industry green-washes
products, how loyal
can business be to the
community, business
greases up politicians,
government references
not trusting, skeptical
of experts
Sounds good now, but will
be hard to control
once it begins.
Industry will not be
able to just use waste
once it starts, hard to
keep promises. Checks
and balances are not in
place.
Having the university as
the source of
information is more
credible than other
groups
There may be a hidden
agenda depending on
who is funding this
research


G1 (2) Mistrust and skepticism in


G2 (4)
G3 (2)








G2 (3)
G3 (3)


many entities (mainly
directed toward
industry, but also
government, experts,
and the information
source).
Feel that promises and
predictions can fall by
the wayside if they are
not in the best interest
of business.
Even when participants
read about wood
source predictions,
they may not believe
the information due to
underlying mistrust.


G1 (3)
G2 (1)
G3 (2)


G1 (3)
G2 (3)
G3 (1)










Table G-1. Continued.
Related research Theme Code Code definition Descriptive data summary Group and Interpretation
question number of
people


How do citizens
perceive the
information
provided in the
written text?


The right
information


MORE Need more/different
or CONC information


TMI


TARG




NEW


Too much information


Target audience needs
to be considered



Provides new
information, opens
mind, new thinking


Want more information,
different information,
the information
provided does not
address my concerns
and questions, lots of
questions asked ones
that were addressed in
the text, but were not
understood
Just need the "guts",
skipped over parts, too
much information
Too long for the average
person, too dry, they
want info quick and
accurately, too high
level
Never thought of this
before, opens mind,
first I had heard of this


G1 (4)
G2 (2)
G3 (5)


G1 (2)
G3 (2)

G1 (2)
G2 (1)
G3 (1)


G1 (2)
G2 (1)
G3 (2)


How well the information
that was or was not
presented in the article
addressed the
questions and concerns
that participants had.
While the article covered
many aspects of the
issue of using wood
for energy, several
participants had
questions and concerns
about the information.
Participants made
conflicting statements
over whether there was
too much information,
not enough
information, or just not
the right type
information.
The text was unable to
break through existing
beliefs, knowledge,
and experiences
surrounding the
information.










Table G-1. Continued.
Related Theme Code Code definition Descriptive data summary Group and Interpretation
research number of
question people


How do Balance
citizens informa
perceive the
information
provided in the
written text?


More pro than con,
glosses over concerns,


TOKOP Token opposition


Need different
viewpoints, counter
opinions


Need alternative fuels
information

Can manipulate the
same information to
tell two different
stories, misleading


of
tion


G1 (5)
G2 (4)
G3 (4)


PRO


The article is biased
toward using wood.
Trying to convince
you to use wood.
Advocacy. Concerns
aren't well addressed,
benefits are.
Only one person who says
this isn't a good idea,
unequal weight in
number, length, or
strength (DR. vs. some
guy). Easy to cut
down.
More examples of
negative, want both
points of view, find
other people with
different views
Should compare wood
with other sources of
energy.
The truth, but not the
whole truth. Might be
another story to write
with the same facts,
message oversold
based on the facts, do
we have all the facts,
how somebody puts
the facts together
frames the message.


G1 (5)
G2 (4)
G3 (4)




G1 (2)
G2 (2)



G1 (1)
G3 (1)

G1 (5)
G2 (4)
G3 (4)


Need for balanced
supporting and
opposing information
about the use of wood
for energy is apparent.
The concerns are not
addressed as
adequately as they
would like, but the
benefits are well
explained.
Only wood as a fuel source
is discussed verses
discussing wood in
comparison to other
alternative fuel
sources.
Participants wonder if they
have all the facts and if
the facts are framed to
promote wood.
The opposing viewpoint
included in the text did
not adequately fulfill
the role of a counter
opinion, and
participants were left
wanting different
viewpoints on the
subject.


DIFF




ALT


MANIP










Table G-1. Continued.
Related Theme Code Code definition Descriptive data summary Group and Interpretation
research number of
question people


How do Percepti
citizens of
perceive the interest
use of text
interesting text
characteristics,
including case
study
examples,
places, and
people?


Thoughts about
whether the interesting
text approach was
helpful or not


More like an article
than a fact sheet

Organization of text


HELP


G1 (2)
G2 (1)
G3 (4)


ons

ng


Doesn't bother me one
way or another, didn't
bother, sounds like
someone trying to
make it interesting,
don't object, doesn't
necessarily help my
understanding
Don't mind, didn't like,
distracting
Like b/c it reaches out to
different kinds of
people
Wouldn't call a fact sheet,
reader's digest,
magazine article
Need section that lays out
the facts clearly,
separate facts and
story, disorganized
when all mixed
together, can't have
dual personality as
creative writing and
scientific fact sheet,
divide by issues and
case studies at end,
organize by concerns,
examples throughout
make it disjointed


G1 (1)
G2 (2)

G1 (4)
G2 (1)
G3 (3)


Participants had mixed
feelings about the use
of interesting text
characteristics.
Several participants say the
interesting text
"doesn't help, but
doesn't hurt." their
understanding of the
information.
A couple participants -
don't like or
distracting. And a
couple like it b/c it
reaches out to different
types of people.
Interesting text makes it
more like an article
than a traditional
extension fact sheet
that some of the
participants are
accustomed to.
Most participants discussed
the organization of the
text, and made
suggestions that the
stories be separated
from the facts.


ART


ORG










Table G-1. Continued.
Related Theme Code Code definition Descriptive data summary Group and Interpretation
research number of
question people


How do Percepti
citizens of
perceive the interest
use of text
interesting text
characteristics,
including case
study
examples,
places, and
people?


People mentioned


Comparison of
locations, examples to
home
How others solved
problems could be
useful








Example was
simplified

Want more
information about the
example


PEOP


ons

ng


1. People not important,
too many people
2. Focused on examples,
not the people
3. Like the quotes
4. People's credentials are
important
5. Teaney mentioned in
relation to bias, happy
friendly wave, proud
6. Cullipher mentioned in
relation to bias, token
opposition
Having populations helps
them understand if it
could work here
Like to hear about other
locations are doing.
Can attract different
readers. Shows
successes, mistakes
made, longevity of
projects, opens mind
to it might work,
shows grassroots
citizen involvement
Example sounds canned,
good mgnt sounds to
easy
What wood sources are
they using, how long
running, how much $


G1
(2,3,3,0,2,3,)

G2
(3,0,0,2,0,5)

G3
(3,0,0,2,4,2)





G1 (4)
G2 (2)
G3 (3)
G1 (3)
G2 (2)
G3 (3)








G1 (2)
G2 (1)
G3 (2)
G1 (3)
G2 (1)
G3 (3)


Almost all participants
agreed that the people
don't seem important,
especially their names.
People need credentials.
Some like the quotes.
Only people mentioned
were ones who made
the information biased.
Some of the people
descriptions seemed
silly, out of place.
Participants used the
examples to help think
through if the solution
could work here.
Through examples, able to
learn about how other
places solved the
problem.
When prompted about the
citizen character one
group said no, one said
shows other people
have concerns, shows
grassroots and people
having an opinion.
The examples could be
improved with more
information and by
being more realistic.


COMP


NORM










EXAM-
SIMP

EXAM-
MORE










Table G-1. Continued.
Related Theme Code Code definition Descriptive data summary Group and Interpretation
research number of
question people


How do
citizens
perceive the
use of
interesting text
characteristics,
including case
study
examples,
places, and
people?


Perceptions RELE-EPL
of
interesting
text


Examples, people,
location mentioned
because relevant


Florida stands out b/c we
live here, close to
home any FL
examples relevant,
Santa Rosa County
and the south are
memorable.
Burlington stood out b/c
people had been there,
and know it is a green
state.
Other interesting text that
stood out historic
New Bern and NW
Missouri football.
Like the small locations
like universities, high
schools.


G1 (4)
G2 (4)
G3 (3)


Identified with locations
that were relevant to
them in some way
Several participants across
the three groups
mention Burlington,
VT and Florida. These
locations the ones that
stood out to them, not
the vivid paragraphs.
They were relevant to
reader b/c close to
home or past
experience.
The relevant text is more
impactful than the
vivid text. However,
without some of the
descriptions (quaint,
historic town) the
example may not have
stood out). Need the
descriptions to get the
relevance and interest
to be able to compare
areas.
Maybe the small locations
like high schools or
universities because
they can imagine it
working.










Table G-1. Continued.
Related Theme Code Code definition Descriptive data summary Group and Interpretation
research number of
question people


How does the Motivation SENST Sensitive to subject


written text for
affect citizens' involve]
motivation to
get involved in
the issue?


now


ment


LEARN


Want to learn more
information


LEARN- Learn about another
DIFF point of view


LEARN
RES


Give additional
information for those
who want to do more
research can


LEARN- Give resources for
EXAM examples so we can
research further


Would read an article in
the newspaper if they
saw it, notice it more,
opened up mind to the
subject
Would research on internet
or at library,
motivated to get their
questions answered
They are motivated to seek
other points of view.
They would Google
the terms rather than
use the listed web
sites.
Like giving the person the
power to continue
their research, could
be more information
(web sites)
Would like more
information about the
examples contact
information (phone
and web site), names,
positions are
important


G1 (3)


G1 (3)
G2 (6)
G3 (2)

G1 (2)
G2 (1)




G3 (1)




G1 (3)
G3 (5)


One group mentioned
being sensitized to
subject, so they may
not seek information
out but would read it if
they came across
information.
Several participants across
the three groups were
motivated to seek
more information
about using wood for
energy.
Some participants mention
they want to continue
learning to find
answers to their
questions and
concerns. Others want
a different point a
view so they would be
motivated to seek out
counter opinions.
Some participants wish the
examples had more
information so they
can use them to learn
more about their
experiences or visit the
locations.










Table G-1. Continued.
Related Theme Code Code definition Descriptive data summary Group and Interpretation
research number of
question people


How does the Motivat
written text for
affect citizens' involve]
motivation to
get involved in
the issue?


Actions they would
take to be involved


Not comfortable to
discuss at traditional
meetings


LOCAL Issue needs to be
RELE locally relevant


ACT


G1 (4)
G2 (3)
G3 (3)


ion

ment


Some would only want to
learn more, others
would tour the energy
or forest (each group),
write a letter to the
paper, discuss with
others.
Other people are the
experts, better know
what you are talking
about, might ask
questions but don't
want to be the fact
stator, not the experts,
I would be afraid,
would prefer a more
informal meeting
setting (not the
traditional public
meeting
Would wait and see what
is being offered as far
as citizen participation
Need localized relevance
to be motivated to get
involved
One person says if it is
happening in the
world it is relevant
If happening here, likely to
get involved


G1 (4)
G2 (5)
G3 (2)











G1 (3)
G2 (3)
G3 (5)


Would become involved at
their comfort level.
Participants recognize they
are not the experts, but
they might be
interested in doing
some suggested
actions: touring power
plant, discussing with
friends, writing a
letter, etc.
If the issue was locally
relevant, some would
be likely to get
involved
Even though the
information was not
specific to a location,
many participants
wanted to learn more
and become involved
in some ways. Of
course, once they get
back to the "real
world" there are many
barriers to these
actions taking place.


COMF









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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Annie is a native Floridian. While she was born in Jacksonville, Annie grew up in the

central part of the state and graduated from Winter Park High School in 1998. In 2004, Annie

graduated from University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in natural resource conservation.

She worked with the Florida Park Service as a park ranger before deciding to pursue graduate

studies at the University of Florida. In August of 2008, Annie received her master's degree with

a focus on environmental education and communication. Annie lives in Gainesville with her

husband, Taylor, and is excited to continue her career in natural resource conservation and

education.





PAGE 1

1 EXPLORING WRITTEN COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUES FOR COMPLEX NATURAL RESOURCE ISSUES By ANNIE OXARART A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF SCIENCE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2008

PAGE 2

2 2008 Annie Oxarart

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3 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This thesis is the result of m any peoples time and energy. I give special thanks to my committee chair, Dr. Martha Monroe, for her co ntinued guidance, encouragement, and kindness. She is an inspiration both professionally and personally, and I have truly appreciated this opportunity to work with her. To my committee, Dr. Taylor Stein and Dr Tracy Irani, thank you both for guiding my research and graduate studies. I thank my husband, Taylor, who has been dedicat ed to helping me every step of the way. His continual love and support has kept me going throughout the past two ye ars. To my parents, thank you for loving me unconditionally, trusting my decisions, and encouraging me to dream big. Along with my family and friends, they have helped me become the person I am today. This journey would not have been the same without meeting new friends and colleagues at the School of Forest Resources and Conservati on. Special thanks go to my friends in the Environmental Education and Ecotourism La b for offering thoughtful advice and creating a positive and fun work environment. Finally, I thank the USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Stat ion, Centers for Urban and Interface Forestry for funding this research through a cooperative ag reement with the School of Forest Resources and Conservati on, University of Florida. I o ffer sincere thanks to the focus group participants, expert article re viewers, and to all others who assisted with this research. I especially thank Lindsey McConne ll for her assistance w ith the focus groups and transcriptions. Without their efforts, this research would not have been possible!

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4 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS...............................................................................................................3 LIST OF TABLES................................................................................................................. ..........6 ABSTRACT.....................................................................................................................................7 CHAP TER 1 INTRODUCTION....................................................................................................................9 Statement of Problem........................................................................................................... ..12 Research Questions............................................................................................................. ....13 Issue Focus: Wood to Energy................................................................................................. 14 2 USING WRITTEN TEXT TO INFORM THE PUBLIC AB OUT WOOD TO ENERGY OPTIONS ........................................................................................................................ .......16 Literature Review.............................................................................................................. .....17 Perceptions and Knowledge of Wood for Energy........................................................... 17 Educating about Complex Issues..................................................................................... 19 Methods..................................................................................................................................23 Results and Discussion......................................................................................................... ..26 Theme: Mistrust............................................................................................................... 28 Theme: The Right Information........................................................................................ 30 Theme: Balance of Information....................................................................................... 32 Conclusions.............................................................................................................................34 3 INFORMING AND MOTI VATING CITIZENS ABOUT COMPLEX NATURAL RESOURCE ISSUES THROUGH INTERESTING TEXT .................................................. 38 Literature Review.............................................................................................................. .....39 Methods..................................................................................................................................45 Article Development.......................................................................................................45 Data Collection and Analysis.......................................................................................... 46 Results and Discussion......................................................................................................... ..48 Theme: Perceptions of Interesting Text.......................................................................... 48 Theme: Motivation for Involvement............................................................................... 51 Conclusion..............................................................................................................................54 4 CONCLUSION..................................................................................................................... ..58 Key Research Findings...........................................................................................................58 Recommendations for Practice............................................................................................... 59 Future Research......................................................................................................................61

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5 APPENDIX A WOOD TO ENERGY ARTICLE.......................................................................................... 63 Article.....................................................................................................................................63 Interesting Text Variation..................................................................................................... ..68 B EXPERT REVIEW................................................................................................................. 69 C FOCUS GROUP RECRUITEMENT PROCESS...................................................................73 Organizations Contacted for Participant Recruitment............................................................73 Flyer for Participant Recruitment........................................................................................... 73 Letter Mailed to Interested Volunteers................................................................................... 74 Interested Volunteer Questionnaire........................................................................................75 D IRB PROTOCOL................................................................................................................... .76 Protocol Approval Letter........................................................................................................76 Letter of Informed Consent....................................................................................................77 E WORKSHEET........................................................................................................................79 F INTERVIEW GUIDE.............................................................................................................80 G DATA MATRIX.................................................................................................................... 83 LIST OF REFERENCES...............................................................................................................91 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.........................................................................................................95

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6 LIST OF TABLES Table page 1-1 Public engagement levels and communication channels................................................... 11 2-1 Summary of focus group recruitment................................................................................ 25 B-1 Text characteristics for expert review................................................................................ 70 B-2 Paragraph characterist ics for expert review ....................................................................... 72 G-1 Data matrix used in analysis.............................................................................................. 83

PAGE 7

7 Abstract of Thesis Presen ted to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science EXPLORING WRITTEN COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUES FOR COMPLEX NATURAL RESOURCE ISSUES By Annie Oxarart August 2008 Chair: Martha C. Monroe Major: Forest Resources and Conservation Many natural resource issues are increasingly complex and multi-faceted, and solutions may not be readily apparent. Increasing pub lic understanding and encouraging public involvement is assumed to create more succe ssful solutions to natu ral resource problems. However, citizens are often overwhelmed with information, may feel helpless to make a difference, and may perceive issues to be irre levant or distant. Written communication is an easily accessible, familiar option to aid in in creasing public awareness and knowledge. It may also be a useful strategy to he lp motivate citizens to become fu rther involved in the issue. The purpose of this research was to explore effectiv e written communication strategies for informing and motivating citizens about the option of using wood to generate energya complex, technical, and controversia l natural resource issue. To gain in-depth understanding, focus groups were used to review written text that was developed for this research. Th e text explains the issue of using wood for energy, aims to motivate citizen involvement, and incorporates interesting text characteristics. Three research questions were addressed in the focus groups. Usi ng written, informative, interesting text that explains the option to use wood for energy and ai ms to motivate citizen involvement: (1) how do citizens perceive the information about using wood for energy, (2) how do citizens perceive the

PAGE 8

8 characteristics of interesting text, and (3) how doe s the text affect citizen s motivation to become involved? Three focus groups, n=16, were conducted in Gainesville, Florida with citizens who are interested and/or involved in community issues. Participants were mostly female, educated, and over 50 years old. In general, the participants were environmen tally concerned. Data analysis of the focus group transcriptions resulted in five themes that a ddress the research questions. Three themes address the first research ques tion concerning how citizens perceive written text about using wood for energy: mistrust, the right information, and balance of information. The second and third research questions are addr essed by two themes: perceptions of interesting text and motivation for involvement. The use of inte resting text helped the participants consider the technical information, and the vivid and conc rete examples provided the participants with meaningful and relevant information. In addition, many participants were motivated to become further involved in the issue and could imagine themselves ta king part in comfortable and informal actions. However, mistrust, misconceptions and perceptions of bias remain barriers to communicating the issue of using wood for energy through text. Unfortunately, the characteristics of written text that increase inte rest may also unwittingly increase perceptions of bias. These results suggest that for complex i ssues similar to using wood for energy and when communicating with a similar audience, communi cating and educating th rough written text is challenging. It should not be the sole outreach effort and may not be the first. Recommendations for improving written text based on the focus group discussions are provided.

PAGE 9

9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION As the dem ands placed on natural resources and environmental systems continue to increase, many communities are faced with an expanding collection of environmental issues. Natural resources issues and d ecision-making processes no longer have simple solutions and tend to involve the consideration of environmental, economic, and social factors. From decisions about landfill site permits to those concerni ng renewable sources of energy, each decision involves several factors, different perspectives, and difficu lt tradeoffs. Some natural resource issues result in divisive situ ations within communities, where finding satisfactory solutions is timely and costly (Wondolleck & Yaffee, 2000). For example, in Massachusetts, seven years of opposition to a proposed offshore wind farm has been named the Seaside Civil War and has cost both sides several million dollars (Cape Wind, 2007). Citizen involvement in the decision-making process is often perceived to create more democratic and effective solutions (Irvin & Stansbury, 2004; Wondolleck & Yaffee, 2000). Citizen participation allows policie s and regulations to reflect citi zen values and can help create public support for decisions. While collaborative efforts for resource management are increasing, the public is becoming less engaged in partic ipatory processes (Wondolleck & Yaffee, 2000). Most people have little time to spare to become pa rt of a lengthy process to resolve an issue they know little about. In addition, ge tting the public motivated to become involved in natural resource decisions can be a difficu lt task, especially when the issu es are perceived as distant and unimportant or when the public is complacent wi th current environmental situations (Irvin & Stansbury, 2004). Building on this situation is th e lack of Americans envir onmental knowledge; most of the public do not understand or are misinformed about environmental issues (Coyle, 2005). While 50

PAGE 10

10 to 70% of Americans are aware of most environm ental subjects (e.g., pollution, habitat loss), a very small percentage, estimated at 1 to 2%, have enough knowledge and sk ills to be considered environmentally literate (Coyle, 2005). In fact, only one in three Amer icans can pass a basic environmental knowledge quiz (Coyle, 2005). When the public has little understanding of the issues, their opinions are usually inconsistent and based on emo tional responses rather than informed public judgment (Yankelovich, 1991). Info rmed public judgment is a form of public opinion that exists once people have engaged an issue, considered it from all sides, understood the choices it leads to, and accepted the full consequences of the choices they make (Yankelovich, 1991, 6). These types of opinions ar e likely to be carefully considered, longlasting, and valuable to decision-makers (Fri edman et al., 1999; Yankelovich, 1991). By acting on informed judgments versus raw opinions and through effective participatory processes, the public can help create acceptable so lutions to environmental issues. Environmental educators and natural resource Extension agents are key players in helping communities consider solutions to complex issues. The commonly accepted goal of environmental education is to develop a world po pulation that is aware of and concerned about the total environment and its associated probl ems, and which has the knowledge, attitudes, motivations, commitments, and skills to work individually and collectively toward solutions of current problems and the prevention of ne w ones (UNESCO, 1975, 3). The Cooperative Extension Service is also an important provide r of research-based e ducation and communication about natural resources, agricu lture, environmental topics, an d community development. As topics have become more complex, educators have developed new techniques to meet the publics needs. For example, public issues educ ation is a helpful framework for communicating and educating the public about cont roversial issues (Dale & Hahn, 1994).

PAGE 11

11 Educators can engage the public in natural resource issues using a variety of outreach techniques. Outreach techniques are chosen by educators based on program goals, audience needs, and available time and resources (Jacobs on et al., 2006). The literature often divides outreach techniques into two ma in communication channels or delivery methods, based on the flow of information: one-way (or mass media) communications and interactive (or interpersonal) communications (Rogers, 1995; Toman et al., 2006). Rowe and Frewer (2005) also use information flows to divide the concept of pub lic engagement into three categories: public communication, public consultation, and public participation. Table 1-1 shows how communication channels and levels of public engagement can describe various outreach techniques. Table 1-1. Public engagement le vels and communication channels. Levels of public engagement Communication channels Information flow Example outreach techniques Public communication One-way Source to the audience Brochures, TV or radio, documentaries, fact sheets, feature stories, flyers, bulletins, informational displays, newsletter Public consultation One-way Audience to the source Opinion polls, needs assessments, letter to the editor, comment periods Public participation Interactive Between source and audience Community forums, citizen advisory boards, discussion groups, study circles, guided walks, demonstrations, workshops, informal conservations (Jacobson et al., 2006; Rogers, 1995; Rowe and Frewer, 2005; Toman et al., 2006) Educators often use a mixture of delivery me thods and techniques to achieve different program goals. For example, a one-way delivery me thod, such as feature story in a newspaper or magazine, may be used to raise issue awareness, but an interactive de livery method, such as a community forum, would be needed to ensu re understanding and engage the public in

PAGE 12

12 participatory processes. While one-way commun ications can efficiently reach many people, interactive communication is more effectiv e at ensuring the audi ence understands the information, forming or changing attitudes, persuading someone to accept a new idea, and creating effective public participation (Rogers, 1995; Toman et al., 2006; Wondolleck & Yaffee, 2000). To fully create informed public judgment, people should be engaged in interactive and deliberative learning opportuni ties (Yankelovich, 1991). Howeve r, one-way communication is useful in the first stage of the processraising consciousness. This stag e consists of not only providing information to raise issue awareness and understandi ng, but also raising public concern. After a person is aware and concerned a bout an issue, they can become active in the next two stages, working through and resolution (Y ankelovich, 1991). Statement of Problem W ritten materials, such as brochures, informational fact sheets, and pamphlets are often used to raise awareness and increase understanding because they are easy to disseminate to large audiences and relatively inexpensive (Jacobson et al., 2006; Rodewald, 2001). For example, the University of Floridas online database of Ex tension publications disseminates over 10 million print and electronic educational products ea ch year (University of Florida, 2008). Written materials are also familiar to most audiences and can be used at their convenience (Jacobson et al., 2006). Perhaps for these reasons, Extension agents, natural resource professionals, and landowners have been found to prefer receiving information through printed materials, such as fact sheets (Howell and Habron, 2004; Rodewald, 2001). However, studies have shown that written materials are not always as effective as educators intend. A recent evaluation of info rmational brochures, regarding wildlife and conservation, in southern California found that residents who rece ived a brochure in the mail had only minor statistical differences of knowledge an d perceptions compared to residents who did

PAGE 13

13 not receive the brochure (George & Crooks, 2006) While the color brochure was specifically designed for these residents, who live in the wildland-urban interface, only 21% of those who received the brochure recalled receiving it seven months la ter (George & Crooks, 2006). In addition, an evaluation of 11 fire outreach techniques in the western United States found that while more participants were exposed to one-w ay delivery methods than interactive delivery methods, less than half of the participants who had experien ce with the one-way methods (ranging from 29 to 47%) rated them as very he lpful (Toman et al., 2006). Finally, Kearney (1994) suggests that when envi ronmental issues are large-scal e and abstract, such as global climate change, providing technical information that does not relate to peop les daily experiences is not effective at creating public under standing and solutions to the problem. Despite the need to improve their effectiveness, written materials remain an important part of public communication and educat ion about the environment and natural resources. To raise issue consciousness, the public may need inform ation that is easily accessible, uses familiar media, and invites public engagement. Among other communication characteristics, text that is interesting, imaginable, and relates to the reader s existing knowledge allows technical information to be understood in a meaningf ul and memorable manner (Kearney, 1994). In addition, Young and Witter (1994) suggest that environmental brochures that are high in communication effectiveness (text characteristics assumed to improve readers interest in and understanding of written information) are most us eful for increasing knowledge among readers. Thus, a better understanding about the use of ef fective communication char acteristics in written text and how the public perceives written text about complex natural resource issues is needed. Research Questions This research explores effective written comm unication strategies for informing and motivating citizens about the opt ion of using wood to generate energya complex, technical,

PAGE 14

14 and controversial natural resource issue. The objective of this research is to determine how to increase the effectiveness of written text to both explain a natural resource issue and involve the public in the issue. To gain in-depth understa nding, focus groups were used to answer three research questions. Using written, informative, in teresting text that explains the option to use wood for energy and aims to motivate citizen involvement: (1) how do citizens perceive the information about using wood for energy, (2) how do citizens perceive the characteristics of interesting text, and (3) how doe s the text affect citizens mo tivation to become involved? Issue Focus: Wood to Energy The option to use wood to generate energy is a complex and often cont roversial issue that presented an opportunity to inve stigate the research questions of this thesis. Many energy facilities are trying to expand their renewable energy portfolio s, and communities are m aking decisions about which renewable sources of energy are available and appropr iate to utilize. In areas with an increasing populat ion, demands for additional en ergy, and nearby forests, wood might be an option to generate heat, power, or electricity. Decisions a bout which fuel sources should be used for generating energy and how fo rests should be managed are complicated. Key stakeholders, including the public, often have di fferent ideas about whic h decision is best. In addition, a lack of public awareness and knowle dge surrounds the issu e of using wood for energy, and misconceptions are common (Monroe et al., 2007). Thus, the need for public education and community discussions a bout using wood for energy is apparent. This research uses written outreach material s from the Wood to Energy Outreach Program, which is designed to facilitate discussions a bout using woody biomass to generate energy in wildland urban interface (WUI) co mmunities of the southeast United States (Monroe et al., 2007). This combined research a nd Extension program contains a variety of fact sheets, case studies, and community economic profiles fo r woody biomass outreach. Selected written

PAGE 15

15 materials were compiled, condensed, and modified into one written document, which was used in focus groups to address th e research questions. The subsequent chapters address the thesis research questions in j ournal article format. Chapter 2 investigates how citizens perceive inform ation in written text that explains the option to use wood for energy and aims to motivate citizen involvement. Chapter 3 addresses how citizens perceive the use of interesting text and their motivation to become involved in the issue. Finally, Chapter 4 concludes with a discussion of key research findings, recommendations for practice, and future areas of research. This re search contributes to expanding the knowledge of community outreach techniques, effective writ ten communication, and public involvement in natural resource and energy decisions.

PAGE 16

16 CHAPTER 2 USING WRITTEN TEXT TO INFORM THE PUBLIC AB OUT WOOD TO ENERGY OPTIONS As comm unities search for renewable resources to meet their energy needs, wood may be a potentially viable resource in areas with near by sources of woody biomass. Similar to other environmental issues, the decision of whether or not to use wood to generate energy is complex. The stakeholders, including industries, community leaders, and the public may have different perspectives about advantages and disadvantag es of fuel sources. Citizen involvement is typically perceived to be an important part of creating acceptable resource plans and solutions (Irvin & Stansbury, 2004; Wondolleck & Yaffee, 2000). However, a lack of public awareness and knowledge surrounds the issu e of using wood for energy (M onroe et al., 2007). Without better understanding, public opinions are ofte n based on preconceived ideas and emotions (Yankelovich, 1991). In contrast, informed public j udgment is a type of opinion that occurs when the public thoroughly considers an issue and potential solutions. Thes e opinions tend to be more stable and can be meaningful to decision makers. For citizen involvement to be effective and to begin creating informed public judgment, the public first needs to be aware of the issue, better understand the factors involved, and motivated to become involved (Yankelovich, 1991). The Cooperative Extension Servi ce plays an important role in providing research-based education and communication abou t natural resources, agricultu re, and other environmental topics. Many of the environmental situati ons facing communities today are complicated controversial issues, with multiple perspectives Communicating and educating the public about these issues can be a difficult task, one that Extension has recognized by developing strategies for public issues education (Dale & Hahn, 1994). Many Extension programs use written text, (e.g., fact sheets, brochures, bulletins) to comm unicate with audiences; written text can reach large audiences and is easily accessible and fa miliar to the public (Jacobson et al., 2006).

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17 However, Extension publications tend to be wr itten in an academic style that may not be interesting or motivating to an audience that is not already seeking information on the topic. In addition, when issues are complex and involve dive rse perspectives, tradit ional styles of written communication may not be adequate. To attract a udiences to a topic, help them understand the issue, and motivate them to become engaged, a di fferent type of written text may be needed. The purpose of this research was to examine the strategy of using interesting and informative written text to communicate and educate the public about the option of using wood to generate energy. Specifically, focus groups were used to gain in-depth understanding of the following research question: using written text that is informative, interesting, and aims to motivate citizen involvement, how do citizens perceive information about using wood for energy? The written text reviewed by focus group participants was specifica lly designed for this research by compiling information from existi ng written materials from the Wood to Energy Outreach Program. This integrated research a nd Extension program was designed to promote public engagement in woody biomass energy decisi ons (Monroe et al., 2 007). The written text accomplished its goal of sharing information about using wood for energy, but themes expressed in all three focus groups highlight the challenge s of creating written materials for the public on controversial issues. This article focuses on th ese concerns to help others overcome similar challenges. Literature Review Perceptions and Knowledge of Wood for Energy Energy decisions, including what types of fuel sources to use for energy and the consideratio n of wood as a renewable source of energy, are complex. Because energy decisions affect the environment, economy, and societ y, many stakeholders are involved. These stakeholders often have di ffering viewpoints, values, and ideas about the best solution. In some

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18 situations, a lack of public suppor t has led to renewable energy proposals coming to a standstill. Upreti (2004, 785) states that public opposition is one of th e major obstacles to promote biomass energy. For example, in the United Kingdom, a proposed wood-to-energy project was halted due to citizen opposition (U preti & van der Horst, 2004). An in-depth investigation found that public mistrust was the main cause of publ ic rejection of the wood-to-energy project. In addition, the public was unfamiliar with biomass energy, which may have led to the opposition (Upreti & van der Horst, 2004). I ndeed, the public has little trus t for government agencies and big businesses, and mistrust is often expressed by the public as skepticism and fear (Wondolleck & Yaffee, 2000). Mixed opinions about the use of wood for energy were found in a recent survey of residents in Alachua County, Flor ida (Monroe et al., 2007). Sli ghtly less than one-third of respondents, or 31%, had negative feelings toward the use of wood fo r energy, while 41% of respondents were neutral, and 27% had positive feelings. The majority, 54.5%, of respondents considered themselves not at all knowledgeab le about the issue and was confused about the advantages and disadvantages of wood compar ed to fossil fuels (M onroe et al., 2007). Nationwide, only one in eight Americans, or 12%, can pass a basic energy quiz, consisting of 10 questions based on information that an averag e person would likely come across in the media (NEEFT, 2002). In addition, these respondents belie ved they knew more about energy than they actually did. This national survey also reveal ed that most people feel that energy education should be increased in schools and by private and governmental institutions (NEEFT, 2002). This type of situation where the public has limited knowledge and mixed opinions can serve as opportunities for Extension agents and environmen tal educators to help communities learn about and consider available energy options.

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19 Educating about Complex Issues Several key considerations can help provide an understanding for public education about natural reso urce issues and th eir potential solutions: categorie s of communication, advocacy, balanced messages, and the audiences prior knowledge. First, however, some background on the Cooperative Extension Service a nd public issues education pr ovides a useful context for considering education about comp lex and controversial issues. Since the Smith-Lever Act established th e Cooperative Extension Service in 1914, Extension services around the nation have been involved in educating a dults in both rural and urban areas. Extension programs address a variet y of topics from agriculture and natural resources to youth and community development, and the programs have evolved over time to address societys needs. Since the 1960s, the focus [of Extension] began to shift away from farm and family management, toward leader ship development, community development, socialization, and public affairs (Birkenholz, 19 99, 3). For years, Extension professionals have provided educational programming to help comm unities learn about important public issues (Dale & Hahn, 1994; Patton & Blaine, 2001). Public issues education devel oped in the early 1990s as an approach to help communities gain the knowledge, capacity, and skills necessary to effectively deal with issues that are controversial and contain different viewpoint s (Dale & Hahn, 1994). Pa tton and Blaine (2001) categorize public issues as thos e with a clearly defined problem and solution, a clearly defined problem with several alternative solutions, or an unclear problem with solutions that are not yet apparent. For the second and third case, the public has an important role to play in framing the problem and defining potential solutions (Patton & Blaine, 2001). Extension agents and other educators may be educating about issues that are not yet on the fo refront of the public agenda or those that have already escalated into a controversy. In either case, educators seek to raise

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20 awareness and increase comprehension, as learning is the cornerstone of a ny societys ability to address public issues (Dale & Hahn, 1994, 11). Edu cators have developed several step-by-step facilitated exercises for addressing public issues such as alternatives and consequences, the ladder, and contrasting viewpoint s (Dale & Hahn, 1994; Goodwin, 1993). The information presented in Extension pr ograms generally falls into two categories informative communication and persuasive co mmunication. Informative communication is the practice of sharing, explaining, and instructing with facts. The information is accurate, has an identifiable source, and aims to create mutual understanding and reduce uncertainty (Jowett & ODonnell, 1999). For example, Floridas Coope rative Extension Service offers 7,000 online publications that cover a variety of topics, su ch as water regulations poinsettia care, and prevention of house foreclosure (University of Florida, 2008). Many of these publications fall into the category of informativ e communication. Often, the audien ce is seeking th is type of information to solve a problem or gain desired knowledge about a topic. Other publications and programs may involve persuasive communication, as they advocate for voluntary adoption of a specific belief, attitude, or be havior (Jowett & ODonnell, 19 99). For example, consider a program that aims to reduce residential water use or involves the rem oval of invasive plant species. These programs usually deliver more than just factual information; they also seek to change values, points of view, and beliefs su rrounding the behavior. For these educational efforts, the audience may not be seeking the in formation, so getting and holding the readers attention is a priority (Jacobs on et al., 2006). When the purpose of communication shifts from a mutually satisfying and voluntary adoption process to one that promotes one groups objectives, without care or concern for the audiences objectives, the communication becomes propaganda

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21 (Jowett & ODonnell, 1999). Since pr opaganda is often manipulative and not in the best interest of society, it is not appropriate in most educational settings. When educating about controversial issues walking the line between education and advocacy is an important consideration. Blaine and Patton (2000, 1) argue that All education no matter what the topic, no matter the form of pr esentationcarries values (or bias). Just the act of developing a program means that the program is worth the organizations time and consistent with their mission and goals (Blain e & Patton, 2000). Similarly, Jowett and ODonnell (1999) consider the fine line between informative communication and white propagandawhen the information is accurate and the information so urce is identified, but th e purpose is to promote a specific ideology. When society agrees w ith ideology (e.g., violen ce is wrong), white propaganda is usually not consid ered a problem in education. Ho wever, when educating about complex issues where stakeholders are likely to have different values, beliefs, and attitudes, promoting one ideology may not be appropriate. Educators can quick ly lose credibility with the public if they are perceived as a dvocating for one side of an issu e over another. Clarifying to the audience that the program reflects values but does not promote one solution may help the program be more effectiv e (Blaine & Patton, 2000). Information concerning an issue can be presen ted as a one-sided message (i.e., where only one side of the argument is discussed) or as a two-sided message (i.e., where supporting and opposing arguments are balanced) (Bright & Manfredo, 1997; McKenzie-Mohr & Smith, 1999; Walton, 1999). One-sided messages or arguments ar e regarded as biased because they do not take into consideration the argum ents of the other side of the issue, but instead advocate one viewpoint (Walton, 1999). Two-sided messages that provide arguments for different sides of an issue but do not refute either si de are considered balanced messa ges that have the purpose of

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22 educating rather than persuading audiences (Bright & Manfredo, 1997) The North American Association for Environmental Educations Guid elines for Excellence (2004) provide guidance for educators concerning the fairness and accuracy of educational materials. The fairness and accuracy guideline suggests that m aterials should reflect sound theories and well-documented facts about subjects and issues, a range of perspectives should be presented in a balanced way, and materials should encourage learners to expl ore different perspectives and form their own opinions (NAAEE, 2004, 5-6). The balanced presen tation of information and perspectives may allow individuals to fully consider the problem and potential solutions, which may help create informed opinions about the issue. In educational program development, consider ing what the target audience already knows and does not know about the topic is critical to meeting learner needs an d selecting appropriate messages and strategies (Jacobson et al., 2006). The two assumptions underlying cognitive or information learning theories are that the l earners memory is an active processor of information and that prior knowledge plays an important role in learning (Merriam et al., 2007, 285). Understanding what the audience knows or does not know can help educators bridge new information with existing knowledge, link to existing values and beliefs, and break-down misconceptions. Misconceptions do not represen t a lack of knowledge, but are alternative explanations or understandings for concepts, which are not consistent with science-based knowledge (Jacobson et al., 2006; Munson, 1994). Ind eed, the public has several misconceptions about the use of wood for energy, such as wood is a dirty fuel and increases air pollution (Monroe et al., 2007). In addition, knowing the audiences attitudes and behaviors related to the topic is important, especially if the purpose of the communication is to in fluence these factors. Understanding the target audience s prior knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors can help educators

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23 to tailor their message to meet both the learne rs needs and the educat ional objectives (Jacobson et al., 2006; McKenzie-Mohr & Smith, 1999). In sum, the complexity and controversial nature of some natural resource issues requires careful planning of education and communication stra tegies. While written materials are common components of education programs that seek to raise awareness and increase understanding of natural resource topics (Jacobson et al., 2006), traditional styl es of written materials may not be effective for this context. To promote public engagement, written materials need not only explain the issu e but should also spark public interest and motivate further involvement in the issue. Such written text becomes a blend of informative and persuasive communication. This style of written text differs from a typical Ex tension fact sheet and is more similar to a magazine article or feature story. This research explored how citizens perceive informative written text that explains the opti on of using wood for energy and aims to motivate citizen involvement. Methods W ritten text (hereafter called the article) that explained the option to use wood to generate energy and aimed to motivate citizen involvement was developed for this study (Appendix A). The article was written to contai n simple, understandable background information about the use of wood for energy, to addr ess common questions, to include differing perspectives, and to provide proc edural information about public involvement in energy issues. The text also included interes ting text characteristicsstorylin e, mystery, concrete examples, people/characters, and vivid desc riptions. A team of nine prof essors, graduate students, and professionals who conduct natural resource a nd agricultural communications reviewed the article. Each reviewer rated the article on the te xt characteristics (Append ix B). The article was revised based on review results, paying partic ular attention to revising the informations

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24 objectivity. However, since the study was funde d by a federal grant fo r woody biomass outreach, alternative energy sources were not sp ecifically discussed in the article. Focus groups, a group interview process, were chosen to gain in-dep th understanding into how readers perceive the informa tion in article. A focus group is an appropriate data collection method for qualitative research that seeks to understand and explain the meanings, beliefs, and cultures that influence feelings attitudes, and behaviors of individuals (Rabiee, 2004, 655). Focus groups are facilitate d through the use of an interview guid e, which leads participants from introductory, rapport-building questions to in-depth questions that address research objectives. Ideally, focus groups contain six to eight participan ts, and a series of thr ee to four groups are conducted or until a saturation of id eas is reached (Krueger & Casey, 2000). Since generalizing results to the population is not the goal of qualitative research, collecting data from segments of the populati on who can provide rich information about the research topic is important. Therefore, participants are selected because of similar characteristics, which relate to the research topic at hand (Kru eger & Casey, 2000). For this research, citizens who are at least somewhat interested and/or ac tive in community issues were assumed to be more likely to see and read informative articles In addition, due to their availability, retired citizens may be more likely to read this type of article and become involved in the issue. Thus, participants were recruited in Gainesville, Florida from community and environmental organizations and a retirement community for a pilot focus group and three subsequent focus groups (Appendix C). Recrui tment announcements were distributed in newsletters, list serves, and at general meetings. Each interested volunteer completed a screening survey, which asked about their level of communi ty interest and involvement, along with general demographic characteristics. Table 2-1 provi des a summary of the number of interested

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25 volunteers, respondents, and participants fo r each focus group. The pilot focus group was conducted on November 10, 2007 to provide feedb ack on the interview guide. Based on pilot group comments, the article was also modified a nd evaluated by two additi onal expert reviewers. When a limited number of participants are available, conducting more groups with fewer participants is advisable (Krueg er, 1998). As this was the situa tion, three small groups were held rather than two large groups. Re spondents were assigned to three scheduled focus groups so that each group contained similar char acteristics, making the groups as homogenous as possible (Krueger & Casey, 2000). Approval was obtained by the University of Floridas Institutional Review Board, and each participant signed an in formed consent letter prior to participation (Appendix D). Table 2-1. Summary of focus group recruitment. Type Pilot group Total of groups one, two, and three Interested volunteers 12 27 Respondents 8 19 Participants 8 16 At the beginning of each focus group, particip ants were asked to read the article and complete a short worksheet, which helped ensure they thoroughly read the article (Appendix E). The same interview guide was used for each group (Appendix F). At the end of each group, the moderator summarized the main points of the discussion to check for accuracy and differing perspectives. An assistant took notes throughout the discussion, in cluding notes about non-verbal body language. In addition, the moderator and assistant debriefed after each group to record initial thoughts about the key points and the general atmosphere of the group. The focus group discussions were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Thus, the main unit of analysis is words, sentences, and multi-sentence chunks (Miles & Huberman, 1994). The first step in the analysis process included b ecoming familiar with the data. This was done by

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26 reading the moderator and assistants notes, listen ing to each audio-recording multiple times, and reading the transcriptions. Next, the transcripts were descriptivel y coded. Codes were chosen and defined based on participants similar ideas, perspectives, and research question topics. Next, portions of the transcripts contai ning the same codes were arranged together in a process similar to the long-table approach. This approach invo lves cutting the transcripts by coded sections and combining segments of text into categories with the same or similar codes (Krueger, 1998; Krueger & Casey, 2000). These new groups of coded text were read to gether and through a process of comparison the groups were refined, revise d, or eliminated. In addition, se gments of coded text were rearranged if they fit better in another category. Through this pro cess, the descriptive codes were interpreted and meaning of the code groups developedessentially developing themes or big ideas. A matrix was used to display the data in a reduced and easy-to-access format (Appendix G) (Miles & Huberman, 1994). This data anal ysis process follows a framework analysis approach (Rabiee, 2004). This a pproach to data analysis was c hosen because it is a series of steps, which can be easily applied to qualitative data from focus groups, and it allows themes to emerge from both the transcripts and the research questions (Rabiee, 2004). Several steps were taken to ensure the validity of this research, wh ich include: pilot testing the interview questions, creating a comfortable group atmosphere, veri fying key points in a summary for each group, debriefing with the focus group assistant, and analyzing data is a systematic manner (Krueger, 1998). Results and Discussion Three focus groups were conducted at the sa m e location in Gainesville, Florida on two consecutive SaturdaysDecember 7th (Group One) and December 15th, 2007 (Groups Two and Three). Overall, 16 participants participated in the focus group discussions (five participants in

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27 Group One, six participants in Group Two, and five participants in Group Three). All participants considered themselves somewhat to very interested in community issues, and most participants considered themselves somewhat act ive in community issues. All participants were white and non-Hispanic. Most participants were over 50 years old and female, with only 3 of the 16 participants being male. Overall, the particip ants were a highly educated group, with 13 of the 16 participants having at least a bachelors degree. Each group included two residents of a retire ment community and three to four members of a community organization, most of which were environmental-based organizations (e.g., Clean Water Action Network) rather than serv ice-based organizations (e.g., Kiwanis Club). Many participants discussed a concern for the en vironment while introducing themselves in the focus group. Comments such as I'm interested in environmental and pollution issues were common among the groups. One explanation for this trend is that the recruitment announcement stated the discussion would focus on natural reso urce issues, which may have encouraged those with environmental concerns to respond. However, in order to avoid recruiting participants with strong opinions about using wood for energy, the announcement did no t state the particular issue for discussion (Krueger & Casey, 2000). In fact at the time of the fo cus groups, the city of Gainesville had been involved in long-standing discussions about the need for additional energy and was considering woody biomass as a fuel so urce. However, only one participant was aware of this ongoing community discussion. Three themes about the use of written text to inform people about a controversial issue developed from the focus groups. They are: mistrust, the right information, and balance of information.

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28 Theme: Mistrust Focus group participants expressed f eelings of mistrust and skepticism toward the energy and forest industries that might be involved with a wood-to-energy project, which affected how they perceived the information in the article. Many comments reflect this basic lack of trust in industry. For example, one participant questi oned whether an energy company that hired foresters really could ensure sustainable supplies of wood: It was the business that hired the foresters. What checks and balances are there to make sure that their integrity and their loyalty are not to the company but to the community and forests? They are still working for the company. So if the company says, we will fi re you if you dont produce this much wood. There is always that. I mean it is human nature. On a similar strand, anothe r participant expressed skepticism toward the actual use of good forest management practices by referring to an expert quoted in the article, He says through good forest management practices the environment can not only be protected and that's just like an ideal because everybody hopes there is going to be good management practices, and we all know how that often works out. Other participants in the group agreed with this comment. Participants questioned the industries ability to keep promises about which sources of woody biomass they were using: urban wood waste, forestry residues, or trees grown for energy production. Most participants we re more positive about using urban waste wood and forestry residues than trees grown for energy. One partic ipant summed up this perspective by saying, If its waste, if its waste, its great. And only if its waste. However, some participants wondered, How much more do you have to cut to sustain a real community ? One participant used the cypress mulch industry as a specif ic example of how business vent ures have broken promises in the past: I mean that started out, yeah well just use scrap. Well, its not scrap now. They are cutting down [trees]. Another participant expressed skep ticism by saying, My concern

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29 immediately becamethis is going to spiral into actually using the forests again. And its because urban waste wood and forestry residues ar e not of a high enough quantity to really run these plants. In addition to mistrust in industry, other ex amples of mistrust came up during the focus group discussions. One participant said that having mostly governmental re ferences listed within the article sounds not trusting. Fo r some participants, lack of trust was their norm. No text would be able to overcome their skepticism of e xperts: Even though they claim to be an expert on a subject, I dont think that they know what they are talk ing about. Its very scary. Im very, very skeptical about things.So I just dont belie ve people always know what they are talking about. Some participants also had feelings of mist rust for the information source. In order to gather responses concerning the objectivity of the text, participants were not told that the article was a potential educational product from an Ex tension program until the last question of the focus group. Several participants immediately agr eed that knowing the ar ticle is produced by a university gives it more credence. However, partic ipants in all three groups also discussed the possibility that even though the university is a credible source of f act-based information, it may not be objective due to re search funding. One participant st ated, My first question is who gave the university the grant to do this resear ch? This feeling of a hidden agenda was summed up by a comment made in Group Two, The [unive rsity] helps me, but I am also familiar withtheir commercial interests and that kind of thing too. Throughout the three focus groups, participants c onveyed feelings of mistrust in several of their comments. These feelings were mainly directed toward industry; however, some participants also discussed othe r entities such as government agencies and information sources.

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30 Overall, the mistrust theme shows that part icipants believe that attractive promises and conservative predictions can fall by the wayside if th ey are not ultimately in the best interest of business. This sentiment agrees with Walton s (1999, 199) suggestion that the public perceives corporations as primarily pursuing their own in terests, even if this may conflict with the interests of the genera l population. Even when particip ants read predic tions about wood availability, they may not believe the informa tion because they basically do not trust the industries involved. Wondolleck and Yaffee (2000) explain that fee lings of mistrust, such as those the public often has for government ins titutions and big businesses, can increase one groups suspicion and skepticism of another groups motives, me thods for data analysis, and interpretation of data. Theme: The Right Information This them e emerged from discussions in all three focus groups and revolves around comments that several participants made about th e information that was or was not provided in the article. Some participants wanted more information than was presented, while some thought there was too much information. Others felt that it was not more information that was needed, but the right information. This was expl ained by one participant who said, Isnt it weird? Like were saying it s too much information, but not enough information about other things. One participant strongly st ated, I got a lot of facts. But as I continue reading, my head kept telling me its not answeri ng the questions that I have in my mind. And I got to the end and my questions were still not answered. There wa s also discussion in al l three groups where the participants recognize that they are an educated group and that this level of information is not appropriate for the general public. Participants questioned informa tion that disagreed with thei r prior knowledge and in some cases revealed basic misconceptions and confusi on. For example, in reference to information

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31 about air pollution and carbon-neut rality of wood, one participant stated, I was puzzled by the section on how is wood carbon neutral.Because I have always assumed that you know when you have a forest fire and everything is smoky. I have pulmonary problems, so I am aware of this. And they tell you go insidedont go out. And so now when th ey are saying its carbon neutral, I am puzzled at the discrepancy at th e warnings we get about forest fires. Another participant agreed by responding, Yeah, I questioned that too as I read it. What I know of this from breathing. How much [emissions] can they take out? [The emissions] may not be as bad as something else, but its not good e ither. Two other participants also agreed that they were confused at the discrepancies between what they know about wood burning and the information in the article. In another group, one participant stated, Its sme lly. Its dirty, when you run your fireplace a couple days. However, the article sp ecifically tried to address this misconception by discussing the difference between burning wood at an energy facility with emission controls and burning wood in a fireplace or a forest fire. Similarly, the article contained information to address concerns about sustainable forestry practices and sustainable supplies of wood. Howeve r, this information did not seem to impact participants fear of forest loss. One participant said, I keep thinking th at there will come a day just like with the oil when we're going to run ou t of wood and the main concern I would have is how fast is this wood going to run out? While this relates to the mistrust theme, where participants were skeptical of the wood supply da ta, it also relates to a possible misconception that wood is not a renewable resource or that forests can not be harvested in a sustainable manner. While the article covered seve ral typical concerns about us ing wood for energy and all of the concerns these participants mentioned, they did not seem to be satisfied with the provided

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32 information. Participants made conflicting st atements over whether there was too much information, not enough information, or just not th e right information. For some participants, the text was unable to break down misconceptions. Misconceptions persist in ones cognitive framework, and they influence how new information is processed until they are confronted and new understandings are constructe d (CUSE, 1997; Jacobson et al ., 2006). Sometimes learners may correct simple misconceptions by themselves when they learn new information; however, some misconceptions are deeply held by individu als and must be addressed through interaction between the educator and th e learner (CUSE, 1997). Theme: Balance of Information In each group, there was general agreement th at the text was biased toward using wood. The first topic of the questioning guide asked par ticipants their general reaction to the article. Participants in all three groups immediately re sponded that text seemed more pro for using wood for energy and made short shrift of the negative. Participants di scussed several aspects of the text that led to their pe rceptions of bias. First of all, while the article does cover the common concerns about using wood for energy, part icipants felt these concerns were not fully explained but the benefits were well-explained. One participant said, Some of the concerns were addressed very briefly in the article, but yeah, not nearly to the extent [needed]. Other participants thought that the ar ticle should compare [w ood] with alternative sources or that wood should be presented in tandem with other sm all energy sources instead of solely focusing on wood as an energy source. Participants within each group r ecognized the possibility that they might not have all the facts. One participant stated, References are the truth, but they are not the whole truth.They [a group with contrasting viewpoint s] could probably write a rebutta l to this just as well written and just as many references in about an hour. Another participant expressed concern for how

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33 facts can be manipulated to frame a certain me ssage, Its almost trying to mislead you into a more positive outlook because if indeed all the dry wood wast e available in the county only provides enough wood for 1% of homes, then is it really worth the effort? And to me, you could easily have made that conclusion [that wood is not worthwhile] with th e same facts that are presented here. But instead somebody chose to write it in a way that puts a more positive spin on it rather than what I think the actual situation is. So while the information may be accurate, participants feel the same facts can be used to tell two different st ories depending on how the information is framed. The article did contain an opposing viewpoint, but all th ree groups perceived this opposition as token or easy to dismiss. Since the opposing argument seemed so easy to counter, it actually appeared to one participant as a p ro argument. One participant noticed that the oppositional viewpoint was only given like two sentencesand they dont really explain what their argument is. Anothe r participant noticed that the re is not a balance of opinion there. Overall, the groups agreed that this opposi ng viewpoint was just a gesture or token opposition. In light of this token opposition, part icipants are left feeling as though they need to find out more information that supports the opposite viewpoint. One participant expressed this by saying, If I were going to seriously think ab out using wood for energy, I would find someone who wrote a paper against wood for energy before I made up my mind. I mean I dont know if I'm for or against it. Another pa rticipant wanted more of the negative examples. This need for differing viewpoints can be summed up by one partic ipants statement, We ll, I dont care if it's biased, as long as I get both biases, for and against, I could form my own conclusions. Overall, the need for balancing supporting and opposing information about the use of wood for energy is apparent. Alt hough the article intended to obj ectively explain the use of wood

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34 for energy, participants perceived th e article as biased for several reasons. They felt the concerns were not addressed as adequately as the benefits. Participants wondered if they have all the facts and if the facts are framed to promote wood. Furthermore, the opposing viewpoint included in the text did not adequately fulfill the role of a co unter opinion, and participants were left wanting additional viewpoints on the subject. Bias is a normal part of many arguments and is expected in some situations, such as when an environmen tal group advocates their position of old growth forest protection. However, when an information source is supposed to be balanced, connections to interested parties who have something to gain are not transparent, or when bias is hidden or unexpected it can be harmful and deceptive (Wa lton, 1999). These factors th at the participants felt created a biased argument are importa nt considerations for educators who are communicating complex issues such as this one. Recognizing that the media are expected to provide different viewpoints, even when one vi ewpoint is in the minority of the mainstream opinion, and that the public has become accustomed to receiving multiple views is also important (Friedman et al., 1999). Conclusions Three them es developed from the focus groups review of an article that explained the option to use wood for energy and aimed to motiva te involvement. The first theme, mistrust, suggests that participants have underlying feelings of mistrust, primarily for forest and energy industries, but also for information sources a nd government agencies. They approached the information provided in the article with skepti cism which fueled their suspicions about the motives of the information source. The theme, the right information, focuses on the participants need for information that addresse s their specific issue questions and concerns. Although the article was written to include comm on questions and concerns, participants were not satisfied with the provided information, a nd the text was ineffective at addressing their

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35 misconceptions. Within the theme of balance of information, participants discussed characteristics that they perceive d as increasing the bias in the article. The participants felt the concerns were not addressed as adequately as the benefits, they want ed to know more about alternative energy sources, and they wanted more representation of different viewpoints. These themes suggest that using written text as a communication and education tool for an issue such as the use of wood for energy is ch allenging. While written materials are useful for reaching large audiences, the effectiveness of te xt is questionable when the issue at hand is controversial. As Dale and Hahn state (1994, 31) It isnt easyto present complex material, either spoken or written, in a way that accurately reflects multiple points of view and satisfies a diverse audience. Building tr ust among parties, addressing individualized questions and concerns, and identifying and overcoming miscon ceptions are processes th at often require time and personal interaction (CUSE, 1997; Toma n et al., 2006; Wondoll eck & Yaffee, 2000). Interactive learning oppor tunities, such as community forums and discussion groups, may be more effective than text at achieving these outcomes. When public mistrust surrounds an issue, a ny unequal treatment of arguments, whether intentional or not, is likely to result in the educat or being perceived as bi ased. In this case, the participants suspicion of the motives of the information source and the funding entity combined with the unbalanced argument resulted in perceptions of bias that were unintended by the author. Dale and Hahn (2004) note that you may find it di fficult to remain neutral, or be perceived as neutral, in the face of [complex issues] becau se you will be viewed as the purveyor of the information. These findings do not mean that written materi als should be dismissed, but rather that we should reconsider how the information is framed a nd the role of written mate rials can play within

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36 a larger, interactive outreach effort Before researchers and professionals transfer these results to other issues and audiences, th e issues context and the charact eristics of the target audience should be compared to those described in this re search (Krueger, 1998). The participants of this research are not representative of the genera l population; they repr esent a portion of the population who are interested and may be involved in environmenta l issues. For issues with a similar context to the option of using wood for energy and with audiences that resemble the research participants, the following lessons learned for written text may be helpful: Acknowledge the motives of the involved industr ies to begin the trust-building process. Provide transparency about th e agendas of both the inform ation source and the funding entity. Acknowledge that there are multiple questions and concerns that can not be adequately covered in the text and provide several methods for future research. Adequately think through the c oncerns that are addressed with in the text, making sure to fully consider the underlying problems and potential solutions. Create an equal number of positive and negative examples, including examples of communities or people who denied the solution of interest. Provide the same amount of space for differing viewpoints and give equal strength to the viewpoints. In addition, when discussing poten tial solutions to issues, the clarification of alternatives and consequences to the solution is suggested over emphasizing the solutions advantages and disadvantages (Dale & Hahn, 1994). Di stributing written materials at interactive ou treach events, where the public has the chance to be involved in discussion and ask individualized questions may also be helpful (McCaffrey, 2004). By addr essing the audiences mi strust and skepticism, desire for transparency and balanced informa tion, and acknowledgement of legitimate concerns, written text may become a more effective stra tegy for educating about complex, technical, and

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37 controversial environmental situa tions. Future research could eval uate the effectiveness of text that exhibits these characteristics.

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38 CHAPTER 3 INFORMING AND MOTIVATI NG CITIZENS ABOUT COMPLEX NATURAL RESOURCE ISSUES THROUGH INTERESTING TEXT Natural reso urces issues and decision-making processes are increasingly complex and tend to involve the consideration of environmental, economic, and social factors. For example, a community struggling with a dwindling water supp ly and an increasing population may be faced with decisions about how to balance economic gr owth with environmenta l protection. Public and private agencies can involve citizens in issue resolution, and together these stakeholders can create innovative and locally satisfying solutions (Wondolleck & Yaffee, 2000). However, when the public is not aware or has lit tle knowledge of the i ssue, their opinions ar e usually inconsistent and not fully thought out (Yanke lovich, 1991). Educators first ha ve to raise awareness and increase understanding before public participation is useful. In a ddition, most people have little time to spare to become part of a lengthy proce ss to resolve an issue they know little about. Thus, getting the public motivated to become involved in natural resource deci sions can be a difficult task, especially if the issue seems distant or irrelevant. Educators can use a variety of outreach techniques to raise public awareness, knowledge, and involvement in natural resource issues (Jaco bson et al., 2006). Often, written materials (e.g., fact sheets, brochures, bulletins, news articl es) are a key component of outreach programs. Written materials are relatively inexpensive to produce, can reach many people, and can be distributed as needed (Jacobson et al., 2006; R odewald, 2001). In addition, the public is familiar with receiving information in this format and can access it at their convenience (Jacobson et al., 2006). However, the technical nature of natura l resource information can be overwhelming, abstract, and boring for readers (De Young & M onroe, 1996; Kearney, 1994). In fact, research has found that written text about natural resour ce topics can be ine ffective at increasing comprehension and changing perceptions (Geo rge & Crooks, 2006). Alternatively, text that

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39 provides information in an understandable, me morable, and meaningful manner and invites public engagement may be helpful for both in creasing comprehension and motivating future issue involvement (Kearney & De Young, 1995; Monroe & De Young, 1994). This research explores effective written communication strategies for informing and motivating citizens about a technical, controvers ial, and complex natural resource issuethe option of using wood to generate energy. The objec tive of this research is to determine how effective communication characteristics can best be applied to technical information to both explain the issue and involve the public in the issue. Because of the need for a rich understanding of this topic, focus groups were used to determ ine how citizens perceive the use of interesting text characteristics in written text that explains the opti on to use wood for energy and how the text affects citizens motivation to get involved in the issue. Literature Review Sim ilar to mass media, written text is of ten used to raise awareness and increase understanding about environmental topics with large audiences (Jacobson et al., 2006). However, studies point to the fact that providing information alone may not effectively achieve educational goals. For example, a recent evaluation of natural resource informational brochures in southern California found that residents who received a brochure did not have, or had only minor, statistically significant changes in knowledge or percepti ons of the issues compared to residents who did not receive the brochure (George & Cr ooks, 2006). In addition, Toman et al. (2006) found that while more people were exposed to mass media than interactive communications concerning fire outreach program s, interactive communications we re generally rated as more helpful. As McCaffrey (2004, 12) states, The availability of information does not necessarily mean that it will reach its audience or be effective once it gets there.

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40 Furthermore, the objectives of environmental education programs are often not limited to merely raising awareness and increasing knowledge; they intend to increase motivation for involvement, help form and change environmen tal attitudes, teach problem-solving skills, or create opportunities for participation (UNE SCO, 1978). Interactiv e communications are considered more effective than mass media at changing attitudes, persuading people to accept new ideas, and effectively engaging the public in participatory processes (Rogers, 1995; Rowe & Frewer, 2005; Toman et al., 2006). Thus, educat ors striving to reach multiple environmental education objectives may want to consider how text can be effectively written to not only inform but also engage the reader and motivate future in volvement. Strategies for writing effective text will be discussed by focusing on the role written te xt can play in motivating readers, considering different types of information and how inform ation is processed by readers, and finally discussing how information can be conveyed in an interesting and engaging manner. If the goals of an educational program include enhancing public invol vement in the issue, written materials associated with the program may help to motivate the reader to become further involved. Motivation is a concept that help s explain why people behave as they do (Wlodkowski, 1999, 37). People are motivated both extrinsically and intrinsically. Extrinsic motivations include incentives or disincentives, such as rewards or fines, while intrinsic motivations rely on a persons natural instinct to be curious and active, the need to make sense of and participate in the surrounding world, and fe elings of satisfaction (De Young, 2000; Kaplan, 2000; Wlodkowski, 1999). Strategies such as pr ovoking curiosity through questions and using relevant examples to promote interest can creat e conditions where the re ader is desirous of information, knowledge, insight, and skill (Wlodkowski, 1999, 69). Focusing on intrinsic

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41 motivations of competence and participation give s people proximal, self-satisfying reasons to become engaged in natural resour ce issues (De Young, 2000; Kaplan, 2000). Competence is an intrinsic motivation that ca n build confidence in skills and abilities and lead to empowerment. The intrinsic motivation of participation stems from the desire to feel needed and trust that participation efforts really make a difference (De Young, 2000). Alluding to the possibility of choice and need for expl oration of solutions with in text can increase motivation for participation (De Young, 2000; Kapl an, 2000). On the other hand, people tend to avoid overwhelming and confusing situations, which increase feelings of helplessness (Kaplan, 2000), as when people feel that their actions w ill not make a difference. Yet, feelings of helplessness must be addressed if the public is to be motivated to participate in solving environmental problems (Kaplan, 2000). Simple, accessible information that is not overwhelming or filled with technical jargon may he lp to reduce the feelings of helplessness and increase competence. Text that increases intrinsic motivations of competence and participation has also been found to increase knowledge. Young and Witte r (1994) tested several communication characteristics by evaluating educational brochure s about a natural resource management issue. Two of the four characteristics determined to be the most effective at increasing knowledge were legibility (text that is easy to understand, lack s jargon, and relates to ones prior knowledge and experience) and inclusion of motiv ational information (text that encourages the reader to be involved in the issue and specifically states the importance of their involvement). Recognizing that all information is not equal is an important step for educators who seek to create effective text. Schultz ( 2002) distinguishes different types of information that lead to different types of beliefs and knowledge. Im pact knowledge is information about the

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42 implications of an action or non-action. Procedural knowledge is how to information that when absent can be a barrier to change, action, and participation. Normative knowledge is developed from information of others attitudes and beha viors and may contribute to social norms and learned behaviors. Normative information can be provided in written text through describing examples of other communities a nd citizens who are engaging in th e specific action or behavior (Schultz, 2002). In addition to impact, procedur al, and normative information, readers should be provided with a sufficient amount of backgr ound information to understand the issue. Research in the field of soci al psychology has produced theo ries of information processing and the influence of messages on attitude and behavior change. McGuires information processing model (1968) focuses on how communi cation inputs (source, message, recipient, channel, and context) influence audience reception of the message and formation of new attitudes or behaviors. Cognitive response theo ry built upon information processing to recognize that individuals are active participants w ho incorporate messages into existing knowledge structures and have favorable and unfavorable thoughts toward messages (Petty et al., 1981). The Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) accounts for both active and non-active processors of information (Petty & Priester, 1994). When the person is motivated and has the ability to process the message, the central route to persuasion is activated; the peripheral route to persuasion occurs when cognitive involvement is low, meaning the person is either not motivated or able to process the message. Several text char acteristics affect which route to persuasion is activated. Petty and Priester (1994) state that personal relevance, questions, multiple information sources, and surprising headlines increase a persons motivation to cognitively process a message. The most important variable to invoke interest and motivation is perceived personal relevance of the message. Messages can be sel f-relevant by making them location specific and

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43 by using first and second person pronouns, such as I we you and us Asking questions, rather than using summarizing statements, can also increase cognitive processing and motivation to be engaged in the information. In addition, havi ng multiple information sources present the arguments and using surprising headlines can incr ease thinking (Petty & Pr iester, 1994). Attitude changes resulting from the central route are l ong-lasting and predictive of behavior, while attitude changes resu lting from the peripheral ro ute are temporal, unstable, and not predictive of behavior (Petty and Priester 1994). Technical environmental information can be co nveyed to the reader through the use of interesting text (Kearney, 1994; Monroe & De Young, 1994). Intere sting text, or text-based interest, is created through th e use of action, mystery, imagery, and meaningful characters and is also referred to as interestingness (M onroe & De Young, 1994, 244). Some environmental issues, such as grizzly bear att acks, are interesting to the read er because of the topic. Other environmental issues, such as mountain-top rem oval, may be perceived by readers as abstract, boring, irrelevant, and distant; the us e of text-based interest is especially useful for these types of issues (Kearney, 1994; Monroe & De Young 1994). The following li st includes characteristics that have been identified for creating interesting text (Kearney, 1994; Monroe & De Young, 1994): CHARACTERS. The use of realistic characters or people within text that readers can identify with. MYSTERY. The promise of new information, which leads the reader to the answers they are seeking. VIVIDNESS. The readers attention is held by text that is action-oriented, relevant, imaginative, and personalized. CONCRETENESS. The use of specific examples, numbers, and details. STORYLINE. Explanation of a problem, potenti al solutions, complications, and problem resolution.

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44 RELATING TO PRIOR KNOWLEDGE. Information that relates to existing knowledge, beliefs, and experiences will be easily for the reader to process. Effective use of true stories (e.g., case study exam ples and analogies) and characters or people within text can help provide normative information, give the reader a sense of direct experience, and take advantage of text characteristics that facilitate information transfer and cognitive processing (Kearney, 1994; De Young & Monroe, 1996) In addition to legibility and motivating information, Young and Witter (1994) also determined that mystery and vividness were the most effective text characteristics for increasing knowledge about a natural resource issue. A comparison of story-based text verses factual text by Kearney and De Young (1995) showed that text perceived as interesting (in this case the factual text) had a greater impact on perceived knowledge, confidence, and comfort with knowledge than less interesting text. Their study also showed that knowing if the target audience is acc ustomed to receiving technical information or story-based information will affect the type of text they perceive as interesting. Kearny and De Young (1995) suggest that story-based text may be more effective when people do not have a strong understanding of the issue. In addition, the authors conclude that combinations of story-based and factual text ma y more effective than one or the other alone. Principles of adult learning can also be used to write interesting and engaging text. TaylorDavis (2000) evaluated a theory-based newslett er on older adults knowledge, attitude, and behavior. Specific adult learning characteristics were targeted within the different sections of the newsletter, such as citing credible sources, drawing on previous reader experiences, providing relevant information and problem-centered approaches, and promoting ac tive participation. The theory-based newsletter was successful at providing nutrition information, increasing patient knowledge, and encouraging some behavior change in older adults dietary habits (Taylor-Davis, 2000).

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45 In summary, the literature offers the following list of suggestions for educators seeking to write effective text: Provide motivational information to encourage th e reader to become involved in the issue. Incorporate different types of information in an understandable and accessible format. Consider the text variables that will encourage active message processing. Include appropriate characteris tics of interesting textstory lines, identifiable characters, mystery, concrete examples, and vividness. Account for how adults prefer to learn by drawing on existing knowledge and experiences. Provide relevant information and problem-based approaches. These communication characteristics may help to reduce feelings of helplessness and build competence, provide memorable and meaningful information, and encourage more widespread participation in environmental issue resolution. Methods Article Development W ritten text (hereafter referred to as the artic le) that explained the option to use wood to generate energy and aimed to motivate citizen involvement was developed for this study (Appendix A). Informational content was compiled from several Extension fact sheets and case studies from the Wood to Energy Outreach Pr ogram (Monroe et al., 2007). The article was written to contain simple, accessible information th at lacks technical jargon, to discuss both the benefits and concerns of using wood for energy, and to include photographs tables, and bulleted lists to break up the text. Personal relevance wa s emphasized through the use of first and second person pronouns, relevant questions to the reader, and the reasons to learn the information and become involved. In addition, normative and procedural information about citizen involvement in energy plans was included in the article.

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46 Several text characteristics to promote inte restingness were incorporated throughout the article. First, an overarching st oryline (introducing th e energy problem, explaining trial solutions of wood as an energy source, and concluding with a potential solution of citizen involvement in developing wood-to-energy plans) was used. The article was divide d into sections to address common concerns of the issue, and each section transitioned into the next with a new question for the reader to consider. Short case study ex amples, including people and places that are involved in using wood for energy, were interspersed throughout the article. The treatment of the examples and locations varied; some were descri bed vividly and concretely, while others were generalized and abstract. Each person included in the article was identified by name and title; however, the use of personal pronouns and quot ations varied among the characters. This variation of interesting text characteristics enabled focus group pa rticipants to discuss different types of text characteristics within the same document. Thus, the article contained interesting text characteristics and represents a mixture of narrative and expository text. Prior to using the article, a team of nine communication experts re viewed and rated the article on the text characteristics (Appendix B). This team consisted of professors, graduate students, and professionals w ho conduct natural resource an d agricultural education and communication. Experts also rated the paragraphs based on vividne ss and imagery levels of the examples, people, and locations. The article was sli ghtly revised based on review results in order to better meet the desired text characteristics. Data Collection and Analysis Focus groups, a group interview process, were chosen to gain in-dep th understanding into how readers perceive the article and their m otivat ion to become involved in the issue (Krueger & Casey, 2000). For this research, citi zens who are at least somewhat interested and/or active in community issues or have increased availability of time were assumed to be more likely to see

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47 and read informative articles. Participants were recruited from comm unity and environmental organizations and a retirement community (A ppendix C). A pilot focus group was conducted to provide feedback on the intervie w guide and the article. For the pilot group, there were 12 interested volunteers, of which eight responded to the screening survey and participated in the pilot group. For the three subsequent focus groups, there were 27 interested volunteers, of which 19 responded and were assigned to a scheduled group, making the groups as homogenous as possible (Krueger & Casey, 2000). A total of 16 participants attended the three groups. Each participant signed an informed consent letter (Appendix D). At the beginning of each focus group, participants read the article and completed a short worksheet, to ensure they read the article th oroughly (Appendix E). The same interview guide was used for each group, which revolved around the following research topics: current interest/involvement in community issues; general perceptions of text; perceptions of locations, people, and examples; motivation to become involved; perceptions of information source (Appendix F). The moderator concluded the di scussion by summarizing key points and checking for accuracy (Krueger & Casey, 2000). The focus group discussions were audio-record ed and transcribed verbatim. The steps of data analysis included: data familiarization, identification of thematic framework (codes), indexing (sorting codes), charti ng (rearranging codes), and mapping and interpretation (seeing the relationships) (K rueger, 1998; Krueger & Casey, 2000; Rabiee, 2004). This framework analysis approach was chosen because the steps can be easily applied to focus group data, and it allows themes to emerge from both the transcri pts and the research que stions (Rabiee, 2004). A matrix was used to display the data in a redu ced and easy to access format (Appendix G) (Miles & Huberman, 1994).

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48 Results and Discussion All focus group participants considered them selves som ewhat to very interested in community issues, and most participants consider ed themselves somewhat active in community issues. All participants were white and non-Hisp anic; all but three participants were over 50 years old. Most participants were female, with only three of the 16 participants being male. Overall, the participants were a highly educated group, with 13 of the 16 participants having at least a bachelors degree. Each group included two residents of a retirement community and three to four members of a community organiza tion, most of which were environmental-based organizations. In addition, almost all particip ants made comments reflecting environmental interest and concern. The results of the focus group discussions are organized into two themes: perceptions of intere sting text and motivation for involvement. Theme: Perceptions of Interesting Text W hile some participants said the interesting text doesnt help, but doesnt hurt their understanding of the information, participants in all groups used the interesting text characteristics to consider the technical info rmation about using wood for energy. In each group, participants compared the provided examples to local situations to thin k through the possibility of using wood for energy in their community. For example, one participant stated, [The example] does tell you 25,000 residents can us e [wood for energy]. Could Gainesville, with 150,000 [residents], use it? Other participants considered how environmentally conscious their community was compared to described places or how local railroad systems could be used in a manner similar to that described in an example. Through these types of comments, it was clear that participants used th e examples and locations to l earn more about how wood can be used for energy and to generate important questions for their community.

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49 In addition to using the intere sting text characteristics to consider local possibilities, participants discussed how the examples, locations, and people provided opportunities to learn from others. For example, the information desc ribed within the case study examples provided some participants with an understanding of how others worked around the negatives and if they were successful. Providing normative information also helped some participants better understand wood to energy possibilitie s. One participant stated, I think the examples for me, as a citizenit enhances [the information] just to see this has been successfully used here and there. Another participant expressed this sentimen t by stating, My first r eaction when they said using wood, was those forestsand was very anti. A nd as I read it and how they were doing it in certain places, it opened my mind a bit to say, well, certain places where they have a facility and they have enough supply and people who know what they are doing, it might work. Participants in each group identified with locations and examples that were personally relevant. Several participants across the three gro ups mentioned the locations from Florida. None of the Florida locations were described vividly, instead they stood out to participants because they were close to home. Similarly, Bur lington, Vermont was mentioned in each group because a participant had prior knowledge that it is a green state or had pr eviously lived there, despite the fact that this location was also not vi vidly described. Other part icipants were drawn to concrete descriptions that related to their personal interests, such as historic towns or football teams. Examples that involved high schools or universities generating energy from wood were mentioned by participants more than the la rger wood-to-energy facility examples. One participants reasoning for this was: It seems doable on a small scale like a university.It seems sustainable for a campus to do that. As all participants are residents of a county with a large university, these types of examples may have been relevant and familiar to them. In sum,

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50 familiar examples and places were more frequent ly mentioned and seemed more meaningful to participants, whether the example was concretely and vividly described or not. However, without the descriptive vivid terms (e.g., quaint, historic town), some examples would not have been meaningful to participants. Many participants agreed that the people described in the artic le were not as important to them as the examples. A typical comment in each focus group was, I was more focused on the use of the wood not the actual pers on. However, the persons cred entials and levels of expertise were important, as expressed by this participan ts comment, I like to know why they are saying what they are saying. While some people in the ar ticle were vividly descri bed and used first and second pronouns in their quotes, other people were not described at all. However, this treatment did not seem to influence how par ticipants related with the people. In fact, participants did not appear to relate to any one person more than another. The only people that were discussed by participants were ones that played a role in making the information seem opinionated. For example, a participant mentioned, I noticed [the article] was real happy and positive about burning wood. He waved [the truck] through with a friendly smile, and its all happy and friendly. In this case, the desc ribed emotions of one person resu lted in participants perceiving the person as happy to be cutting down trees which was not the intent of the author. In addition, participants in each focus group wanted more details within the examples. While some participants were concerned that the examples simplified a complicated situation, others wanted more concrete details, such as what wood sources were being used, how much money was being saved, and how long the faciliti es have been in operation. As each example was chosen to explain different aspects of the i ssue, not all examples included all the possible

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51 information. This is a function of the decision to include multiple, short examples or fewer, detailed examples. Many participants recognized that this article was unlike other written materials they have been exposed to that discuss similar topics or come from similar inform ation sources (in this case, the Cooperative Extension Service). The use of interest ing text reminded them of a magazine article rather than a scientific fact sheet. Some participants recommended that separating the facts from the stories in the article would help clarify and organize the information. Participants discussed reorganizi ng the article into sections of fact-based information and story-based information, or as on e participant put it, Her e is the science part. Here is the local discussion part. Since the readers seemed unfamiliar with the mixed format of the article, providing more organization or reader guidelines as to where the case study examples begin and end may be helpful. While participants made recommendations fo r reorganizing the text and some seemed unsure of whether they liked th e interesting text, overall, this theme recognizes that providing descriptive examples and locations can help par ticipants process technical information, compare local and distant possibilities, and provide rele vant, meaningful, and familiar information. One participant summed up the benefits of interesting text by saying, I f we dont relate to [the text] somehow, whether the name, people, or place, then we're going to lose interest.You need to make sure it reaches out to a bunch of differe nt individuals and different personalities. Theme: Motivation for Involvement Many participants seemed to be interested in taking part in the actions suggested in the article to encourage citizen i nvolvem ent. Participants from e ach group mentioned that they would be motivated to learn more about the issue. Some participants woul d be interested in the subject, but did not imagine they would actively seek out more information. These participants

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52 mentioned being sensitized to th e subject: If I saw an article in the newspaper or magazine about it, where in the past I might have just gone by it, now I would stop and read it. Others would seek out more information either on the in ternet or at the library. Some participants mentioned they would continue learning to g et my questions answered about the issue. Another motivation for continued involvement was to learn different points of view of the issue. One participant expressed positive feelings about the procedural information included in the article by stating, One thing I did like is the reference to how to search for it on the internet. I like that. I like putting the power to the person to con tinue their own research. Participants from each group expressed intere st in touring a local power plant. Some participants suggested that prov iding contact information for ea ch person or example mentioned in the article could help them continue rese arching the case study exam ples. For example, one participant stated, It would have been nice to have, if you want to visit this place, the website or the number to call to schedule a tour. In additio n, several participants mentioned that they would discuss the issue with othe rs: All I know is that I'll be cu rious now when I meet a few of my neighbors, either at my house or upstairs or at lunch or dinner, to bring up the wood issue, out of curiosity.Are they as we ll informed as I am now? Othe r participants would respond to a news article with a letter to the editor. The actions mentioned were ones that the part icipants felt comfortabl e with, as opposed to actions they perceive as threatening. For exampl e, participants from each group recognized that they are not experts and said they would be intimidated to speak at public meetings. One participant expressed these feelings by stating, I would still be afraid to discuss my perspective with community leaders and officials because I wouldnt think I would know enough as far as facts go. And they would just say, oh you dont know what you're talking about, and kind of

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53 move on.You really have to know your subject like the back of your hand in order to be able to be effective. Other participants said that they would go to public meetings to listen, learn more, and ask questions. As this article was not specifically written for one community, some participants felt they needed more locally relevant information before they would take action. One participant stated that action would not be a priori ty unless they were going to cut down my trees. Others would wait and see what developed locally before taking any action, as expressed by this participants comment, It would depend on what is happening. And what kind of [opportunity] it was to get involved. But potentially, yeah, I would be interested. Overall, this theme suggests that while the arti cle was not specifically targeted toward one community, most participants were interested en ough after reading the arti cle to learn more and become involved in some way. While participants recogn ized that one articl e did not make them experts, the article did spark enough interest and curiosity for part icipants to imagine themselves becoming involved in the issue in ways that suit their comfort and knowledge levels. Participants were also interested in learning more about th e case study examples that were included in the text. The inclusion of the procedural informati on along with the case study examples seemed to help participants consider wh at actions they might take. There are limitations to this theme that should be considered. First, after leaving the focus group, the participants motivation to perform th ese actions will have to be great enough to overcome any barriers to taking action. In a ddition, the interview guide did not address motivation to become involved until near the end of the discussion. In most groups, the participants had been discussing how the article was written and the article content for about an hour. Thus, the participants had been involved in an interactive discussion in addition to reading

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54 the text, which may have affected how they imag ine themselves being involved in the issue. However, considering the overwhelming nature of energy issues and the helplessness that many people feel to make a difference, the idea that participants wanted to learn more and become involved in some actions is promising. In additio n, these participants we re not overly confident and were able to recognize the limits to their knowledge about the issue. Conclusion This research investigated how text characteri stics, especially the us e interesting text, can best be applied in written text to explain the issue of using wood for energy and to motivate public involvement in the issue. The research ques tions of how citizens perceive interesting text and their resulting motivation to get involved in the issue guided three focus group discussions. Data analysis of the focus group discussions resu lted in two themes: per ceptions of interesting text and motivation for involvement. The particip ants of this study do not represent the general population, and participant characteris tics should be recognized when considering the results and lessons learned from these focus groups. These pa rticipants represent a portion of the population who are interested in and may be vocal about environmental issues. The perceptions of interesting text theme va lidates prior research that descriptive and concrete examples within text can help read ers process technical information and provide relevant, meaningful, and familiar information. While all participants did not perceive the interesting text as helpful, they did utilize th e examples, locations, and people to discuss the technical information and to consider energy possibilities. The descriptive examples and locations allowed participants to learn from other communities about energy decisions and may be a part of creating social norms. Another facet of this theme is that particip ants did not find the pe ople described in the article as helpful as the examples. This may be a function of the issues scale. Since energy

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55 generation decisions are at the community level rather than in dividual level, the community examples were utilized to consider the inform ation. In other contexts, such as promoting the individual behavior of carpooli ng, people and characters are eff ective at providing imagery about how the behavior is performed (Kearney & De Young, 1994). Thus, the cont ext and scale of the issue can help educators decide whether to fo cus on creating vivid imag ery about characters or examples of communities. For community issues, people can be used to help explain the case study example, but for these participants they do not appear to be a vital component of the interesting text. In addition, participants had s uggestions for reorganizing the text and separating the factbased information and story-based information. On e could imagine this as two totally different sections of a document, or clar ification of text segments coul d be created through graphic design elements. The literature suggests that mixing s hort stories within factual text may be more effective than one or the other alone (Kearne y & De Young, 1994). If th e facts are separated from the stories, then the case study examples may not help to explai n the expository text. From the focus group discussions, the follo wing lessons learned may help educators develop effective text to explain complex natural resource issues: Provide structure or reader gui delines to clarify story-based and fact-based segments of text. This may be achieved through headings, inde ntations, blocks of text, shaded boxes, or font changes. Plan the use of emotion with careful consideration of how readers will perceive the emotion. This may be especially important wh en the issue being discussed is contentious or has multiple perspectives. Provide concrete, vivid, and relevant details for all examples and people. This will help diverse audiences relate to the information. Provide fewer, more in-depth case study examples rather than many, short examples. This will help the reader grasp the power of case study examples instead of becoming inundated with examples.

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56 Consider the context and scale of the issue. This will help you know whether communitylevel or individual-level detail s and imagery are appropriate. Include each characters credentia ls and levels of expertise if characters are used in the text. This will help tell the reader why the pers on is included and important to the example. The second theme revolved around participants motivation to become involved in the issue. This theme suggests that while the arti cle was not targeted to one community, most participants were interested e nough after reading the ar ticle to want to le arn more and become involved in some way. Learning more and becoming involved in natural resource issues can help create a more environmentally literate soci ety. Perhaps with time and acquisition of new knowledge, they will become more comfortable taking part in additional actions. In addition, informal opportunities to share ideas, such as community forums (Monroe et al., 2007), might lessen the perceived threat of interacting with community leaders in the traditional public meeting format, which are sometimes perceived as unhelpful by the public (Toman et al., 2006). Including procedural information for how citizens can get involved in the issue was an important part of helping participants understand that issue involveme nt can take many forms. Recognizing that participants had both read the text and been involved in a discussion about the information is an important considera tion for the motivation to get involved theme. After reading an article nearly five pages long and participating in a two-hour discussion, participants were still interested in learning more. The fact that the participants could imagine themselves taking additional actions on this issue is a positive consideration for educators. In addition, a national energy survey found that Americans are supportive of increasing energy education (NEETF, 2002). Thus, providing the public with increased opportunities to consider energy issues and potential solu tions is an important task fo r environmental educators. In conclusion, the use of interesting text and effective communicati on characteristics in written text helped to inform and motivate these participants to learn more about the use of wood

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57 for energy. For a complex, community-level issue, the use of interesting text characteristics helped to make what may have been abstract and boring information palatable, memorable, and relevant. The examples of other communities an d places where wood is used for energy provided participants with normative information that he lped them consider the local possibilities and learn from others. In addition, participants used the provided procedural information about how to become involved in the issue to consider and imagine their own involvement. For similar audiences and issues, this type of text may provide memorable and meaningful information and may encourage more widespr ead public participation.

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58 CHAPTER 4 CONCLUSION This research investigated the use of written tex t to explain and motivate citizen involvement about the option to use wood for energy. Three focus group discussions provided in-depth understanding of how citizens perceive the information provided in the text and the use of interesting text characteristics th roughout the technical info rmation. In addition, the participants motivation to continue being invo lved in the issue was explored. Five themes emerged from analysis of the focus group transcri ptions. This chapter reviews the five themes, provides recommendations for practice, and identifies future research areas. Key Research Findings Five them es developed from the focus gr oups, which are briefly reviewed below: MISTRUST. These participants had feelings of mistrust for forest and energy industries, information sources, and govern ment agencies. Thus, when they were presented information about using w ood for energy, they approached the information with skepticism and were suspicious about the motive of the information source. THE RIGHT INFORMATION. Participants were not satisfied with the information that was provided in the article. While the article was written to address common questions and concerns, participants want ed more information to address their specific ideas and questions. In addition, the text was ineffective at helping address common misconceptions about using wood for energy. BALANCE OF INFORMATION. The concerns of most participants were not adequately addressed by the article. This, along with th e fact the article only discussed wood as an alternative energy source, led to the perception that the article was biased toward the decision to choose wood as an energy source. In addition, the opposing viewpoint in the article was not perc eived as valuable since it was easy to dismiss. PERCEPTIONS OF INTERESTING TEXT. The case study examples were used by participants to discuss an d consider the use of wood for energy and were more important to participants than the pe ople or characters. The examples and locations that were vividly and concrete ly described allowed the information to become meaningful and relevant to the participants. In addition, participants suggested the article be reorganized to cl arify the fact-based information from the story-based information.

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59 MOTIVATION FOR INVOLVEMENT. Participants could imagine themselves taking part in comfortable and informal actions that were suggested by the article. Most participants were interested in learning more about the issue. Some participants would only be interested in becoming invol ved if the issue was locally relevant. Recommendations for Practice First, con sidering these recommendations in the context they developed is important. In qualitative research, results cannot be generalized to the population. In addition, the transferability of results mu st be undertaken with caution (Krueger, 1998). Researchers and practitioners should compare how these research partic ipants and the issu e of using wood for energy compare to audiences and issues in questi on. Other community-level issues that may have similar characteristics include the balance of ur ban growth and natural areas, water supply and demand, and other renewable energy sources such as wind energy. The participants of this study represent a portion of the population that are in terested in environmental issues and may be involved in expressing their ideas and c oncerns in decision-making processes. While the use of interesting text characteristics was helpful and participants were motivated to become further involved, mistrust, misconceptions, and perceptions of bias are key considerations for those who want to educate about issues similar to using wood for energy. These underlying feelings, beliefs, and perceptio ns influenced the way that information was perceived by participants. Wit hout addressing these c onsiderations, the inte nded outcome of the outreach effort may not be achieved, perhaps wh ether the text includes effective communication characteristics or not. Therefore, for this issue an d audience, educators must work to build trust, address misconceptions, and provide open and obj ective information. These outcomes are best achieved in interactive settings, such as community forums or discussion groups (Toman et al., 2006; Wondolleck & Yaffee, 2000). In addition, the combination of personal contact when distributing written materials or incorporating written material s into interactive outreach

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60 activities may be helpful for building trust and answering individualized questions (McCaffrey, 2004; Wondolleck & Yaffee, 2000). However, written materials remain an important component in environmental education and outreach. This research suggests that it is im portant to develop text that strives to be transparent about the motives of all involved parties. In add ition, adequately covering key concerns, and then recognizing that there are pr obably several more concerns that can not be adequately addressed in the text may be help ful. The author could also provide multiple resources for finding out more information about the briefly mentioned c oncerns. In addition, all examples and people should be given equal treatment in terms number, text space, and argument strength. Providing both positive examples of where wood is being successfully used for energy and examples where communities decided not to us e wood for energy may help to create a more balanced argument. Several recommendations for incorporating intere sting text characteristics into technical, complex information also developed from this re search. First, graphic design elements can be utilized to help readers clarify and transition between story-based and fact-based segments of text. Providing fewer examples, with concrete, vivid, and relevant details may provide more meaningful information than several superficial or generalized examples. Finally, the context and scale of the issue and intended outcome for the audience can help determine whether to focus on examples of communities or individual people or characters. If the issue or decision is at the community-level, then providing descriptive and im aginative examples of other communities is more relevant than describing individual people w ithin the examples. In these cases, the people are only included to help explain an d breathe life into the example.

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61 The characteristics that help to create interest in text may also unknowingly increase the perceptions of bias when the i ssue at hand is controversial. Wh en using emotion to describe a person or character, authors must carefully consider how readers may perceive the emotion. For example, developing characters that are happy and proud of their job may make them seem biased toward one side of the issue. This is an important considerati on for educators who are addressing complex natural resource issues that have multiple perspectives. Future Research The results of this research contribute to th e fields of environm en tal education, Extension and community outreach, inte restingness of text, and wr itten communication. Several opportunities for additional research are apparent. Exploring different audiences, di fferent issues, and bias are all interesting rese arch areas that could enrich our understanding of communicating and educating about complex issues. When consid ering bias, research co uld investigate whether written materials can be developed that are perceived as unbiased by an audience who has mistrust for the involved part ies and is prone to feel str ongly about the issue. Similarly, investigating if materials that are produced for a particular purpose, and thus promote a specific ideology, can be perceived as unbiased is an areas of future research. To determine the generalizability of these results, the article developed for this research could be quantitatively te sted with different audiences. A nother interesting addition to this research would be to provide similar partic ipants with a document that does not contain interesting text characteristics and investigate whether the similar fee lings of mistrust and perceptions of bias occur. Like wise, while only one document with varying text characteristics was tested in this research, two or more documents exhibiting different text characteristics could be tested using either qualitative or quantitati ve studies. This would allow for more in-depth comparison of text characteristics. Finall y, text could be deve loped to reflect the

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62 recommendations of these research findings, and th is document could be tested to determine its effectiveness.

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63 APPENDIX A WOOD TO ENERGY ARTICLE Article

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68 Interesting Text Variation Characters/People Setting description vivid, 1st person with quotes: Paul Garrett (paragraph 7) Matt Langholtz (paragraph 9) James Teaney (paragraph 20) Setting description not vivid, 1st person with quotes: Tom Hudspeth (paragraph 22) Setting description not vivid, 3rd person with no quotes: Phil Tuohy (paragraph 19) No setting, 1st person with quotes: Sid Cullipher (paragraph 12) Patrick Minogue (paragraph 13) Locations Location description concrete and vivid: New Bern, North Carolina (paragraph 7) Maryville, Missouri (paragraph 20) Location description, not vivid: Burlington, Vermont (paragraph 22) Morehead, Kentucky (paragraph 8) Orlando and Tampa, Florida (paragraph 19) Generalized locations throughout text: The South Florida, Georgia, and Texas Average County with 75,000 residents Counties with moderate forest industry Nationwide Kentucky Case Study Examples Craven County Wood Energy (paragraph 7) Rowan County High School (paragraph 8) Ridge Generating Station (paragraph 19) Northwest Missouri State Un iversity (paragraph 20) McNeil Generating Station (paragraph 22, 23) Vivid, Descriptive Paragraphs Paragraphs 7, 9, 20

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69 APPENDIX B EXPERT REVIEW Thank you for your ass istance in reviewing this fact sh eet. I will use this fact sheet in focus groups to engage participants in discussion about the effect of some text characteristics, particularly the use of characters and imagery of locati ons on creating informed opinions a nd empowering citizens to become involved in natural resource issues. This fact sheet is trying to explain a technical issue to the general public just like a traditional extension fact sheet. The purpose is to give readers a variety of text characteristics while objectively informing them about using wood for energy. Your review of the fact sh eet will help ensure that the text does or does not contain certain text characteristics. This should take about 45 minutes to complete. This review is anonymous, so please do not write your name anywhere on the documents. Table 1 lists characteristics that may be located throughout the fact sheet. Pl ease rate your level of agreement with each statement. Write the corres ponding number for your rating in the space provided. Table 2 lists characteristics that may be evident in so me paragraphs of the fact sheet and not in other. Please write the numbers of the paragraphs where th e statements below apply. You need not write down every paragraph number, just the ones that are most obvious. Comments on your rating are welcom e and encouraged. Notice that the paragraphs on the fact sheet are numbered, so you can easily refe r to locations in the text. Please return the review to me by campus mail by November 2nd. Annie Oxarart, School of Forest Resources and Conservation PO Box 110410 Or place it in my mail box in the graduate student mailroom (2nd floor of Newins-Ziegler Hall) Please let me know if you have any questions. I can be contacted at oxarart@ufl.edu or 904-540-2861. Thank you very m uch! Annie

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70Table B-1. Text characteris tics for expert review. Text characteristics Ratings: 1=Strongly Disagree; 2=Disagree; 3=Neutral; 4=Agree; 5=Strongly Agree Comments A The fact sheet asks the reader relevant questions about the topic. B The text is free of technical jargon. C Information is understandable. D The text is easy to read. E The background information is sufficient to understand the issue of using wood for energy. F The information is sufficient to understand the costs of the issue. G The information is sufficient to understand the benefits of the issue. H The information is overwhelmingly complex. I The information is biased. J The text makes the issue personally relevant to the reader. K The title is appropriate for the fact sheet. L The title is interesting. M The introduction is attention grabbing. N The introduction entices the reader to continue reading. O The introduction presents a problem that needs to be addressed. P An overarching storyline can be detected throughout the fact sheet (problem leading through series of trial solutions to a possible solution). Q The same information is repeated throughout the sections. R The sections effectively lead the reader to a possible solution of the problem. S Each section concludes with a promise of new information, enticing the reader to continue.

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71 Table B-1. Continued. Text characteristics Ratings: 1=Strongly Disagree; 2=Disagree; 3=Neutral; 4=Agree; 5=Strongly Agree Comments T The conclusion effectively summarizes the reasons to consider one possible solution to the problem presented in the introduction. U Transitions are used between the sections. V Transitions are effective at connecting the sections. W The fact sheet is visually attractive X The photographs enhance the text. Z Specific reasons to learn the information are articulated. A1 The text gives the reader reasons to the involved in the issue. B1 Implications of being involved in the issue are given in the text. C1 Procedural information for becoming involved in the issue is provided.

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72Table B-2. Paragraph characteristics for expert review. Paragraph Characteristics Paragraph Numbers Comments a The text is vivid. I can imagine the information. b The text is not vivid. I can not imagine the information. c The characters are described well enough that you can imagine talking to them. d The characters are not described well enough that you can imagine talking to them. e Locations are described well enough that you get a feeling for the area. f Locations are not described well enough that you get a feeling for the area.

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73 APPENDIX C FOCUS GROUP RECRUITEMENT PROCESS Organizations Contacted for Participant Recruitment Civic Media Center Clean W ater Action Network Current Problems Florida Trail Association, Florida Cracker Chapter Friends of Nature Parks Friends of Paynes Prairie Kiwanis Club League of Women Voters Master Gardeners, Alachua County Oak Hammock Retirement Community Rotary Club Sierra Club Sustainable Alachua County Wilhelmina Johnson Resource Center Women for Wise Growth Flyer for Participant Recruitment

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74 Recruitment Announcement Would you like to volunteer for a focus group fo r University of Flor ida research? For my thesis research, I am explor ing how written fact sheets in fluence public perceptions and willingness to become involved in community -based natural resource issues. To obtain information about this topic, I am conducti ng focus groups with residents of Alachua County. Participants will need to be willing to read a short fact shee t and share their ideas in an informal discussion. In addition, part icipants should be inte rested or active in community issues. The focus group will last no longer than 2 hours. Participants will receive energy saving light bulbs and lunch as compensation for participation! Focus groups are currently scheduled for December 8th and December 15th and will be held in the morning and afternoon. For more inform ation or to participate, please contact Annie Oxarart at 352-372-3842 or oxarart@ufl.edu Letter Mailed to Interested Volunteers October 29th, 2007 Dear interested participant, Thank you for your recent interest in partic ipating in a focus group for University of Florida research. I have in cluded the following information with this letter. Consent Letter: This provides you with information about the focus group. If you choose to participate, please sign this letter and bring it with you to the focus group. The additional copy is for your records. Participant Questionnaire: To pa rticipate, please take a moment to fill this out. Send the completed questionnaire back to me in the stamped envelope. After I receive your participant questionnair e, I will schedule you for a focus group time and provide you with directions to the focus group location. Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you, Annie Oxarart

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75 Interested Volunteer Questionnaire Thank you for your interest in participating in the upcoming focus groups. Please take a moment to fill out this questionnaire. This informati on will ensure that the focus groups represent a diversity of Alachua County residents and that pa rticipants are among the people we are trying to reach. Your identity will be kept confidential to th e extent provided by law and will only be used for placing you into one of the focus group time sl ots. The questionnaire will take less than 5 minutes. Your Name____________________________________________________ Contact Information (phone or email)_______________________________ 1. How interested in community issues do you consider yourself? Not at all interested Somewhat interested Fairly interested Very interested 2. How active in community issues do you consider yourself? Not at all active Somewhat active Fairly active Very active 3. What is your residential zip code? ____________ 4. How old are you? < 18 years 19-29 years 30-39 years 40-49 years 50-64 years 65-79 years > 80 years 5. What is your sex? Male Female 6. What is your race or ethnicity? White and non Hispanic Black/African American Asian Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Native American Latino/Hispanic (of any race) Other (Please specify) ____________ Multiple races or ethnicities 7. Please check the highest level of education you have completed. Less than a high school diploma High school diploma or equivalent Some college credit Associate degree Bachelors degree Masters degree Professional degree Doctorate Thank you for providing this information. Plea se return it in the envelope provided as soon as possible. You will be contacted shortly with the date and time of the focus group.

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76 APPENDIX D IRB PROTOCOL Protocol Approval Letter

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77 Letter of Informed Consent

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79 APPENDIX E WORKSHEET Part of the focus group discuss ion will be about the examples, people, and locations introduced in the fact sheet. Please take a mome nt to fill in this worksheet. Feel free to look back to the fact sheet if you dont remember this information. People and Examples: Write the letter of the description that matches the person or example from the fact sheet. Descriptions A. Uses sawdust to heat their buildings and nearby technical institute buildings B. Believes in the use of sustainable forest management practices C. Is proud of how Craven County Wood Energy uses a waste material for energy D. Has worked at Northwest Missouri State University for over 10 years E. Involved in energy discussions in Burlington, Vermont F. Believes using wood for energy is not sustainable G. Plant manager at Ridge Generating Station H. Researches the economic availability of wood People or Examples ____ Paul Garrett, Plant Manager (paragraph 7) ____ Rowan County High School (paragraph 8) ____ Dr. Matt Langholtz, Research Project Manager (paragraphs 9 and 10) ____ Sid Cullipher, Executive Director of an environmental organization (paragraph 12) ____ Dr. Patrick Minogue, Forest Scientist (paragraph 13) ____ Phil Tuohy, Plant Manager (paragraph 19) ____ James Teaney, Energy System Supervisor (paragraph 20) ____ Tom Hudspeth, Citizen in Burlington, Vermont (paragraph 22) Locations Where is wood being used for energy? Where could wood be used for energy?

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80 APPENDIX F INTERVIEW GUIDE Welcome and Particip ants Read Fact Sheet Thank the participants for coming. In troduce myself and the assistant. Our discussion will last no longer than 2 hours. The bathrooms are located____. We will have lunch after the focus group. The purpose of the focus group is to learn more a bout how text-based fact sheets effect public perceptions and willingness to participate in complex community-b ased natural resource issues. I will analyze the discussion we have here today to gather data for my thesis. During the analysis, I will remove any information regarding your identity. In this way, your answers will be anonymous. You have all been given a letter with this information. Does anyone have any questions about the research? Ha s everyone signed the letter? Before we begin our discussion, I would like you a ll to read a short fact sheet about using wood for energy. When you finish reading, I have a few questions on this worksheet for you to answer. You can stay in this room, go s it on the couch in the hall, or us e the picnic table outside. This may take about 25 minutes. When you are done, come back to this room. Wait until everyone returns and has answere d the questions to begin introduction. Introduction So, now we will begin the discussion portion of the focus group. I am going to ask some questions and feel free to respond openly and honestly. There ar e no right or wrong answers to these questions. You can respond directly to the question, and I enc ourage you to respond to other participants answers in or der to build upon the discussion. My role is to guide to the discussion and make sure that everyone has a chance to share their ideas, not to provide information about using wood. The purpose of our di scussion is to talk ab out how the fact sheet is written. If you have specific questions and comments about using wood for energy, we can write them down and talk after the focus group or during lunch, and I have folders that contain additional information that you are welcome to take home. If it is ok with everyone, I will record the disc ussion we have here today. Do I have everyones permission to record the discus sion? Please make sure you speak clearly and loudly so that we can all hear each other, and so that your voice is picked up by the recorder. Does anyone have any questions about the process? Turn on recorder(s). Opening Question

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81 1. To get started lets go around the room and introduce ourselves. Tell us your name, how long you have lived in Alachua County, and br iefly tell us about your interest or involvement in community issues. In-depth Questions A. General reactio n to fact sheet 2. In general, what did you th ink about the fact sheet? Possible Prompts: What were some of the topics that you remember? Was it interesting? (Might need to give them the comparison fact sheets.) What did you like about it? What did you not like about it? B. Examples, People, and Locations in the Fact sheet Have a list of all the people and locations and their paragraph #s on flip chart paper. 3. Now, I would like you to thi nk about the examples, people, and locations that were mentioned in the fact sheet. These lists show all the people a nd locations used in the fact sheet and the paragraph numb ers where they are found. How closely do you identify/relate with the people and locations in the fact sheet? Possible Prompts: Which person made an impression on you? What kind of impression? Which person did you like? What about the person did you like? Which person did you dislike? What about the person did you not like? Which person did you feel like you learned the most from? What sort of places can you imagine using wood for energy? Which communities seem like a place you know? What makes you feel that way? C. Willingness/Motivation to Get Involved 4. Some people dont know how to get involved in community issues or dont feel like their participation could make a difference. What information in the fact sheet might motivate you or increase your willingness to beco me involved in community discussions? Possible Prompts: Can you imagine what you could do to become involved? Which parts of the fact sheet are effective at this? What would make this a more powerful tool for encouraging public involvement? What would you change about the fact sheet?

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82 Ask the participants to point out relevant par agraphs, examples, characters, or locations in the fact sheet D. Organizations and Changes in Perceptions Pass around the front pages with the logos/header. 5. If the fact sheet has the information that is at the top of the page, would this change the way you think about the fact sheet? E. Closure Summarize/link together key points of discussion. Remember to get agreement for any assumptions/ideas that you were not stated by participants. Is that an accurate summary of our discussi on? Does anyone have anything else to add? Thank participants again. If anyone has questions about the use of wood for energy, feel free to ask them now or during lunch.

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83APPENDIX G DATA MATRIX Table G-1. Data m atrix used in analysis. Related research question Theme Code Code definition Descriptive data summary Group and number of people Interpretation MTRST Mistrust in industry, experts, government Skeptical can control what they say, forest industry green-washes products, how loyal can business be to the community, business greases up politicians, government references not trusting, skeptical of experts G1 (2) G2 (4) G3 (2) SPIRAL May get out of control, mistrust of predictions Sounds good now, but will be hard to control once it begins. Industry will not be able to just use waste once it starts, hard to keep promises. Checks and balances are not in place. G2 (3) G3 (3) CRED University is credible source of information Having the university as the source of information is more credible than other groups G1 (3) G2 (1) G3 (2) How do citizens perceive the information provided in the written text? Mistrust AGENDA or FUND Source of information may want to promote wood, who funded the article There may be a hidden agenda depending on who is funding this research G1 (3) G2 (3) G3 (1) Mistrust and skepticism in many entities (mainly directed toward industry, but also government, experts, and the information source). Feel that promises and predictions can fall by the wayside if they are not in the best interest of business. Even when participants read about wood source predictions, they may not believe the information due to underlying mistrust.

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84Table G-1. Continued. Related research question Theme Code Code definition Descriptive data summary Group and number of people Interpretation MORE or CONC Need more/different information Want more information, different information, the information provided does not address my concerns and questions, lots of questions asked ones that were addressed in the text, but were not understood G1 (4) G2 (2) G3 (5) TMI Too much information Just need the guts, skipped over parts, too much information G1 (2) G3 (2) TARG Target audience needs to be considered Too long for the average person, too dry, they want info quick and accurately, too high level G1 (2) G2 (1) G3 (1) How do citizens perceive the information provided in the written text? The right information NEW Provides new information, opens mind, new thinking Never thought of this before, opens mind, first I had heard of this G1 (2) G2 (1) G3 (2) How well the information that was or was not presented in the article addressed the questions and concerns that participants had. While the article covered many aspects of the issue of using wood for energy, several participants had questions and concerns about the information. Participants made conflicting statements over whether there was too much information, not enough information, or just not the right type information. The text was unable to break through existing beliefs, knowledge, and experiences surrounding the information.

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85Table G-1. Continued. Related research question Theme Code Code definition Descriptive data summary Group and number of people Interpretation PRO More pro than con, glosses over concerns, The article is biased toward using wood. Trying to convince you to use wood. Advocacy. Concerns arent well addressed, benefits are. G1 (5) G2 (4) G3 (4) TOKOP Token opposition Only one person who says this isnt a good idea, unequal weight in number, length, or strength (DR. vs. some guy). Easy to cut down. G1 (5) G2 (4) G3 (4) DIFF Need different viewpoints, counter opinions More examples of negative, want both points of view, find other people with different views G1 (2) G2 (2) ALT Need alternative fuels information Should compare wood with other sources of energy. G1 (1) G3 (1) How do citizens perceive the information provided in the written text? Balance of information MANIP Can manipulate the same information to tell two different stories, misleading The truth, but not the whole truth. Might be another story to write with the same facts, message oversold based on the facts, do we have all the facts, how somebody puts the facts together frames the message. G1 (5) G2 (4) G3 (4) Need for balanced supporting and opposing information about the use of wood for energy is apparent. The concerns are not addressed as adequately as they would like, but the benefits are well explained. Only wood as a fuel source is discussed verses discussing wood in comparison to other alternative fuel sources. Participants wonder if they have all the facts and if the facts are framed to promote wood. The opposing viewpoint included in the text did not adequately fulfill the role of a counter opinion, and participants were left wanting different viewpoints on the subject.

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86Table G-1. Continued. Related research question Theme Code Code definition Descriptive data summary Group and number of people Interpretation HELP Thoughts about whether the interesting text approach was helpful or not Doesnt bother me one way or another, didnt bother, sounds like someone trying to make it interesting, dont object, doesnt necessarily help my understanding Dont mind, didnt like, distracting Like b/c it reaches out to different kinds of people G1 (2) G2 (1) G3 (4) ART More like an article than a fact sheet Wouldnt call a fact sheet, readers digest, magazine article G1 (1) G2 (2) How do citizens perceive the use of interesting text characteristics, including case study examples, places, and people? Perceptions of interesting text ORG Organization of text Need section that lays out the facts clearly, separate facts and story, disorganized when all mixed together, cant have dual personality as creative writing and scientific fact sheet, divide by issues and case studies at end, organize by concerns, examples throughout make it disjointed G1 (4) G2 (1) G3 (3) Participants had mixed feelings about the use of interesting text characteristics. Several participants say the interesting text doesnt help, but doesnt hurt. their understanding of the information. A couple participants dont like or distracting. And a couple like it b/c it reaches out to different types of people. Interesting text makes it more like an article than a traditional extension fact sheet that some of the participants are accustomed to. Most participants discussed the organization of the text, and made suggestions that the stories be separated from the facts.

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87Table G-1. Continued. Related research question Theme Code Code definition Descriptive data summary Group and number of people Interpretation PEOP People mentioned 1. People not important, too many people 2. Focused on examples, not the people 3. Like the quotes 4. Peoples credentials are important 5. Teaney mentioned in relation to bias, happy friendly wave, proud 6. Cullipher mentioned in relation to bias, token opposition G1 (2,3,3,0,2,3,) G2 (3,0,0,2,0,5) G3 (3,0,0,2,4,2) COMP Comparison of locations, examples to home Having populations helps them understand if it could work here G1 (4) G2 (2) G3 (3) NORM How others solved problems could be useful Like to hear about other locations are doing. Can attract different readers. Shows successes, mistakes made, longevity of projects, opens mind to it might work, shows grassroots citizen involvement G1 (3) G2 (2) G3 (3) EXAMSIMP Example was simplified Example sounds canned, good mgnt sounds to easy G1 (2) G2 (1) G3 (2) How do citizens perceive the use of interesting text characteristics, including case study examples, places, and people? Perceptions of interesting text EXAMMORE Want more information about the example What wood sources are they using, how long running, how much $ G1 (3) G2 (1) G3 (3) Almost all participants agreed that the people dont seem important, especially their names. People need credentials. Some like the quotes. Only people mentioned were ones who made the information biased. Some of the people descriptions seemed silly, out of place. Participants used the examples to help think through if the solution could work here. Through examples, able to learn about how other places solved the problem. When prompted about the citizen character one group said no, one said shows other people have concerns, shows grassroots and people having an opinion. The examples could be improved with more information and by being more realistic.

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88Table G-1. Continued. Related research question Theme Code Code definition Descriptive data summary Group and number of people Interpretation How do citizens perceive the use of interesting text characteristics, including case study examples, places, and people? Perceptions of interesting text RELE-EPL Examples, people, location mentioned because relevant Florida stands out b/c we live here, close to home any FL examples relevant, Santa Rosa County and the south are memorable. Burlington stood out b/c people had been there, and know it is a green state. Other interesting text that stood out historic New Bern and NW Missouri football. Like the small locations like universities, high schools. G1 (4) G2 (4) G3 (3) Identified with locations that were relevant to them in some way Several participants across the three groups mention Burlington, VT and Florida. These locations the ones that stood out to them, not the vivid paragraphs. They were relevant to reader b/c close to home or past experience. The relevant text is more impactful than the vivid text. However, without some of the descriptions (quaint, historic town) the example may not have stood out). Need the descriptions to get the relevance and interest to be able to compare areas. Maybe the small locations like high schools or universities because they can imagine it working.

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89Table G-1. Continued. Related research question Theme Code Code definition Descriptive data summary Group and number of people Interpretation SENST Sensitive to subject now Would read an article in the newspaper if they saw it, notice it more, opened up mind to the subject G1 (3) LEARN Want to learn more information Would research on internet or at library, motivated to get their questions answered G1 (3) G2 (6) G3 (2) LEARNDIFF Learn about another point of view They are motivated to seek other points of view. They would Google the terms rather than use the listed web sites. G1 (2) G2 (1) LEARN RES Give additional information for those who want to do more research can Like giving the person the power to continue their research, could be more information (web sites) G3 (1) How does the written text affect citizens motivation to get involved in the issue? Motivation for involvement LEARNEXAM Give resources for examples so we can research further Would like more information about the examples contact information (phone and web site), names, positions are important G1 (3) G3 (5) One group mentioned being sensitized to subject, so they may not seek information out but would read it if they came across information. Several participants across the three groups were motivated to seek more information about using wood for energy. Some participants mention they want to continue learning to find answers to their questions and concerns. Others want a different point a view so they would be motivated to seek out counter opinions. Some participants wish the examples had more information so they can use them to learn more about their experiences or visit the locations.

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90Table G-1. Continued. Related research question Theme Code Code definition Descriptive data summary Group and number of people Interpretation ACT Actions they would take to be involved Some would only want to learn more, others would tour the energy or forest (each group), write a letter to the paper, discuss with others. G1 (4) G2 (3) G3 (3) COMF Not comfortable to discuss at traditional meetings Other people are the experts, better know what you are talking about, might ask questions but dont want to be the fact stator, not the experts, I would be afraid, would prefer a more informal meeting setting (not the traditional public meeting G1 (4) G2 (5) G3 (2) How does the written text affect citizens motivation to get involved in the issue? Motivation for involvement LOCAL RELE Issue needs to be locally relevant Would wait and see what is being offered as far as citizen participation Need localized relevance to be motivated to get involved One person says if it is happening in the world it is relevant If happening here, likely to get involved G1 (3) G2 (3) G3 (5) Would become involved at their comfort level. Participants recognize they are not the experts, but they might be interested in doing some suggested actions: touring power plant, discussing with friends, writing a letter, etc. If the issue was locally relevant, some would be likely to get involved Even though the information was not specific to a location, many participants wanted to learn more and become involved in some ways. Of course, once they get back to the real world there are many barriers to these actions taking place.

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91 LIST OF REFERENCES Birkenholz, R. J. (1999). Effective adult learning. Danville, I L: Interstate Publishers, Inc. Blaine, T. W., & Patton, D. B. (2000) Value-free Extension education? Journal of Extension, 38(5). Bright, A. D., & Manfredo, M. J. (1997). The influence of balanced information on attitudes toward natural resource issues. Society and Natural Resources, 10 (5), 469-483. Cape Wind. (2007). MMS draft environmental impact statement. Cape Wind Web site. Available at http://www.capewind.org/article139.htm (retrieved 16 March 2008). Coyle, K. (2005). Enviro nmental literacy in America: W hat ten years of NEETF/Roper research studies say about environm ental literacy in the U.S. Washington, DC: The National Environmental Education & Training Foundation. CUSE (Committee on Undergraduate Science Education). (1997). Science teaching reconsidered: A handbook. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. Dale, D. D., & Hahn, A. J. (Eds.). (1994). Public issues education: Increasing competence in resolving public issues. Public Issues Education Mate rials Task Force. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin, C ooperative Extension Service. De Young, R. & Monroe, M. C. (1996). So me fundamentals of engaging stories. Environmental Education Research, 2 (2), 171-187. De Young, R. (2000). Expanding and evaluating motives for environmentally responsible behavior. Journal of Social Issues, 56 (3), 509-526. Friedman, S. M., Dunwoody, S., Rogers, C. L. (Eds.). (1999). Communicating uncertainty: Media coverage of new and controversial science. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. George, S. L., & Crooks, K. R. (2006). Education and conservation on the urban-wildland interface: testing the efficacy of informational brochures. The Southwestern Naturalist, 51(2), 240-250. Goodwin, J. (1993). Contrasting view points about controversial issues. Journal of Extension, 31(3). Howell, J. L., & Habron, G. B. (2004). Agricultur al landowners lack of pr eference for internet Extension. Journal of Extension, 42 (6). Irvin R. & Stansbury, J. Citizen participation in decision making: is it worth the effort? Public Administration Review, 64 (1): 55-65.

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92 Jacobson, S. K., McDuff, M. D., & Monroe, M. C. (2006). Conservation education and outreach techniques Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Jowett, G. S., & ODonnell, V. (1999). Propaganda and persuasion, 3rd edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc. Kaplan, S. (2000). Human nature and e nvironmentally responsible behavior. Journal of Social Issues, 56 (3), 491-508. Kearney, A. R. (1994). Understanding global ch ange: A cognitive perspective of communicating through stories. Climatic Change, 24 (4), 419-441. Kearney, A. R., & De Young, R. (1995). A know ledge-based intervention for promoting carpooling. Environment and Behavior, 27 (5), 650-678. Krueger, R. A. (1998). Analyzing and reporting focus group results. Focus Group Kit 6. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc. Krueger, R. A., & Casey, M. A. (2000). Focus groups: Practical guide for applied research, 3rd edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc. McCaffrey, S. M. (2004). Fighting fire with educa tion: what is the best way to reach out to homeowners? Journal of Forestry, 102 (5), 12. McGuire, W. J. (1968). Personality and attitude change: An information-processing theory. In A. G. Greenwald, T. C. Brock, & T. M. Ostrom (Eds.), Psychological foundations of attitudes (pp. 171-195). New York, NY: Academic Press, Inc. McKenzie-Mohr, D., & Smith, W. (1999). Fostering sustainable behav ior: An introduction to community-based social marketing. Gabriola Island, BC: Ne w Society Publishers. Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L. M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide, 3rd edition. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative data analys is: An expanded sourcebook, 2nd edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc. Monroe, M. C., & De Young, R. ( 1994). The role of interest in environmental information: A new agenda. Childrens Environments, 11 (3), 243-250. Monroe, M. C., McDonell, L., Oxarart, A. 2007. Wood to energy: Biomass ambassador guide Gainesville, FL: University of Florid a, Cooperative Extension Service. Munson, B. (1994). Ecological Misconceptions. Journal of Environmental Education, 25 (4), 3034. NAAEE (North American Association for Environmental Education). (2004). Environmental education materials: Guidelines for excellence. Washington, DC: NAAEE.

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95 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Annie is a native F loridian. While she was bor n in Jacksonville, Annie grew up in the central part of the st ate and graduated from Winter Park High School in 1998. In 2004, Annie graduated from University of Florida with a bach elors degree in natura l resource conservation. She worked with the Florida Park Service as a park ranger before deciding to pursue graduate studies at the University of Florida. In August of 2008, Annie received her masters degree with a focus on environmental education and communi cation. Annie lives in Gainesville with her husband, Taylor, and is excited to continue he r career in natural re source conservation and education.