In this issue
Study builds bridges between business, environment
An Iowa State University Extension publication is receiving attention around the state, nation and beyond. Its implications reach a new area of potential networking - between environmental educators and agencies, typically viewed as pro-environment, and business, typically identified as anti-environment.
"Building Bridges: A Survey about Iowa Businesses and Environmental Education" is based on more than 300 surveys completed by a variety of business and industry types - manufacturing, service and utility. Merry Rankin and James Pease of ISU's Department of Animal Ecology conducted the survey. According to Pease, ISU Extension wildlife specialist, "It is common in today's society for there to be a sense of polarization - a chasm between environmentally-oriented persons and businesses that is often thought of as impossible to overcome. We wanted to determine if that perspective existed from a business viewpoint."
The survey results "showed that businesses are receptive to environmental concerns," Pease said. The study did not show overwhelming support of environmental education, but it formed a framework for the potential benefit of networking between businesses, educators and agencies - an accessible way to cross the chasm.
According to the publication, "Collectively, there is a wealth of knowledge and insight that all parties can gain from one another that would not only be good for business but also for the natural resources that allow businesses to exist."
According to a business representative, "This is an outcome we would all benefit from. Educators have various skills that could be used for benefit in the business community. We get the best of both worlds when the two groups coordinate activities."
The study provides information and examples of partnering that have already occurred between businesses, environmental educators and agencies in the state, and describes a four-step process for partnership fashioned after a continuous improvement model familiar to businesses. Rankin claimed, "Partnering such as this is really the basis for strong communities, I believe, and is vital to sustainability of communities in the future."
"Building Bridges: A Survey About Iowa Businesses and
Environmental Education" (EDC-152) is available from ISU
Extension Distribution, (515) 294-5247. The cost is $3.20
for shipping and handling.