How to Share the Story
An important part of the process, as described in Process D, is sharing your story. What worked for your organization? What did you learn? How can other organizations and people learn from your experience? You should share your story with staff, , other organizations, and the environmental education !
There are many ways to share your findings, such as through events or written reports. Below, we offer several example evaluation reports from organizations that infused CREE values and processes in their work. As with this entire website, this page will grow and more culturally responsive and equitable approaches to sharing evaluation findings will be shared.
Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK)
Location: Denver, Colorado
Report Year: 2016
Approach: Mixed-methods; youth survey + open-ended response
Target evaluation outcomes:
- Participant well-being
- Personal capacity
- Academic achievement
- Environmental stewardship
Report style: “Traditional” (Executive Summary, Narrative-style text, graphs, charts +Infographics)
ELK engages urban youth in outdoor and environmental throughout the school year and summer in the Mountain West. Many of the youth are repeat participants, meaning they often stay with the program year after year, building a cumulative, repeat program experience.
To better understand how youth take up this experience, ELK partnered with the University of Colorado to develop a participant survey to be administered annually at the end of the traditional school year. After collecting the data over multiple years, ELK staff partnered with an external evaluation team, Blue Lotus Consulting & Evaluation, for support with data analysis and reporting. Using data from the closed-ended survey questions, open-ended survey questions, and program output data, and in close collaboration with ELK staff, Blue Lotus helped design a report that aimed to showcase the impact of ELK programming on participating youth.
When using a combined or mixed-methods approach that provides an opportunity for participants to share and reflect on their experience in their own words, you create a means of sharing the story beyond the numbers. And, you also offer easy, digestible output data that showcases both reach and impact (e.g., participant numbers, hours, demographics, survey responses, etc.). Partnering with local university partners, graduate students and/or external evaluators can help organizations utilize the data they’ve collected to inform program design and/or change.
Colorado Parks & Wildlife Schools & Outdoor Learning Environments (SOLE)
Location: Colorado, statewide
Report Year: 2017-18
Approach: Mixed-methods; elementary youth photo-elicitation + ; teacher +
The Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s SOLE program was established initially as a pilot program to connect kids and their families to the outdoors. The program aimed to connect elementary students across Colorado’s Front Range with hands-on, experiential learning at various State Parks, public lands and historical spaces. The program partnered with program providers and schools to schedule up to three field trips per school year, with both field trips and transportation fully funded by grant funding from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) and Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The program is now in its eighth year (est. 2013) and serves over 50 schools across the state.
CPW staff wanted to be able to tell the story of impact that this program offered to participating youth, including, but not limited to, their academic . By using multiple data sources from teachers (surveys and interviews) and youth voice via photo-elicitation and focus-groups, CPW was able to get a broader understanding of experience, reach and impact. Data visualization was key in communicating this story to a broader audience as well, while the youth voice and perspective helped highlight what remained salient and relevant to the students.
"The student feedback showed us what stood out to students and we were often surprised how much students remembered and retained from field trips that they took a few months before- even as much as 9 months prior... Communicating the story of SOLE has been so important, both for record keeping, to our leadership team, our funder, and organizations outside of SOLE."
- Erin Kendall, School Programs Coordinator
Nature Kids | Jovenes de la Naturaleza (NKJN)
Location: Lafayette, Colorado
Report Year: 2019-2020
Approach: Mixed-methods; youth photo-elicitation + focus groups; promotores interviews; adult community survey; program output data
Nature Kids | Jovenes de la Naturaleza (NKJN) was a 2016 recipient of a 5-year grant from Great Outdoors Colorado’s (GOCO) Inspire Initiative (now “Generation Wild”). With a focus on engaging LatinX youth and families in east Boulder County, Colorado, NKJN established a robust evaluation plan that tracked with the 5-year implementation plan. Included in this plan were desired aims and outcomes for the program and best of fit tools to capture the lived experience of families and youth. It is currently entering it’s fifth and final year of funding (2021-2022) with the goal of perpetuating the program through ongoing provider buy-in and community engagement.
NKJN was intentional about creating welcoming spaces for the LatinX community that included bilingual events, programming and staff representative of the community. Leaning into trusted community leaders, NKJN employed the promotores model to help encourage support for and engagement with the initiative. Additionally, they established a Youth Advisory Board (YAB) that would be integral to the design of both program offerings and participatory evaluation. They gathered data from all participating audience members including adults, highly-engaged families, and youth. By employing a mixed-methods and age-appropriate approach, every participant in the NKJN program was invited and welcome to reflect on their experience with the program. Additionally, with the substantial funding from GOCO, NKJN was able to conduct a long-term evaluation study of the initiative to better understand how their target outcomes have changed and evolved over time. They worked with a third-party evaluation consultant as well as many university partners and graduate students to conduct both data collection, analysis, and reporting. Prioritizing sufficient time and attention towards cross-referencing data analysis and interpretation with third-party supporters was integral to telling the story of Nature Kids impact in a balanced and accurate manner.