The LOTT Clean Water Alliance’s active education and outreach program helps forge strong connections with the community. LOTT has invested in their WET Science Center, partnerships with local school districts, and public outreach that includes providing tours to community groups. When LOTT’s treatment plant and WET Science Center had to temporarily close to the public because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we quickly changed our focus to develop strategies and tools for connecting with our community virtually. Using a collaborative process, we began creating new programming and outreach tools, including a virtual plant tour and virtual field trip.
A team of LOTT staff worked with a video production company to create a virtual tour and related videos to explain the wastewater treatment process, resource recovery, clean water careers, and what not to flush.
LOTT’s education staff quickly shifted gears to produce a new live web-based program to continue serving our three partner school districts within LOTT’s service area, and to continue to support science teachers and reach middle school students.
Joanne Lind, LOTT’s Public Communications Manager, worked with LOTT staff and a video production company, Twisted Scholar, to create an engaging and accurate portrayal of the treatment process. Staff were encouraged to contribute ideas and input in each step of production, resulting in a series of videos that everyone is proud of. Even after in-person tours resume, these videos will be used to increase accessibility for community members to learn about the treatment process.
The education team, led by Siri Nelson, Education Program Manager, created a virtual wastewater field trip program that incorporated input and feedback from teachers and district staff to ensure the program met the rapidly changing needs of virtual classrooms while remaining effective. The virtual field trips have received positive feedback, and the education program is on track for meeting outreach goals for the 2020-21 school year.
Presenters will discuss how they created virtual tools to continue to provide public outreach without in-person contact. They will offer lessons learned, best practices, and ways to use virtual tools to reach members of your community.