The Conservation Professional's Guide to Working with People

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Overview


About the Author:
Scott A. Bonar is on the faculty of the University of Arizona and is leader of the U.S. Geological Survey's Arizona Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of Mammology

"This practical, how-to book is written for resource professionals, ranging from students just embarking on their careers to seasoned managers and supervisors...I enjoyed reading this book and expect to consult it often in the future. I also look forward to bringing this book into my classrooms: Bonar’s conversational style and the book’s short, effective chapters will encourage reading by students and will provide material for engaging discussions. Furthermore, the high-quality binding and reasonable price of the paperback edition make for a valuable, durable book that is economically accessible to students and professionals alike."

— Dana M. Sanchez

Journal of Mammology - Dana M. Sanchez
"This practical, how-to book is written for resource professionals, ranging from students just embarking on their careers to seasoned managers and supervisors...I enjoyed reading this book and expect to consult it often in the future. I also look forward to bringing this book into my classrooms: Bonar’s conversational style and the book’s short, effective chapters will encourage reading by students and will provide material for engaging discussions. Furthermore, the high-quality binding and reasonable price of the paperback edition make for a valuable, durable book that is economically accessible to students and professionals alike."
Ecological Restoration - Heather K. Catuzo
"I recommend the book to anyone who is short on time and looking for some new skills to bring to the table: it will make you more aware of your relationships with others and raise your skills—personal and professional— to a higher level."
Ecological Management and Restoration - Helena Mills
"This book means you don't have to read a book on conflict resolution, another on managing personnel, and a third on time management. Bonar has nicely summarized these in a single, easy-to-read book that is relevant to the conservation field."
Natural Areas Journal - Elizabeth Brusati
"As a conservation professional himself, Bonar understands the situations one can get into and shows how basic principles of negotiation, customer service, and persuasion can apply to natural resources situations."
Bing Professor of Population Studies, Stanford University, author of One with Nineveh - Paul R. Ehrlich

"Conserving essential natural resources requires more than specialized knowledge and advanced technologies—it calls for finely honed 'people skills.' Brimming with insights from hands-on experience, this book offers reassuring, wise, and entertaining guidance from a seasoned professional."
Natural Areas Journal

"As a conservation professional himself, Bonar understands the situations one can get into and shows how basic principles of negotiation, customer service, and persuasion can apply to natural resources situations."
Journal of Mammalogy

"This practical, how-to book is written for resource professionals, ranging from students just embarking on their careers to seasoned managers and supervisors...I enjoyed reading this book and expect to consult it often in the future. I also look forward to bringing this book into my classrooms: Bonar's conversational style and the book's short, effective chapters will encourage reading by students and will provide material for engaging discussions. Furthermore, the high-quality binding and reasonable price of the paperback edition make for a valuable, durable book that is economically accessible to students and professionals alike."
Ecological Restoration

"I recommend the book to anyone who is short on time and looking for some new skills to bring to the table: it will make you more aware of your relationships with others and raise your skills—personal and professional— to a higher level."
Ecological Management and Restoration

"This book means you don't have to read a book on conflict resolution, another on managing personnel, and a third on time management. Bonar has nicely summarized these in a single, easy-to-read book that is relevant to the conservation field."
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781597261470
  • Publisher: Island Press
  • Publication date: 6/11/2007
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Read an Excerpt

The Conservation Professional's Guide to Working with People


By Scott A. Bonar

ISLAND PRESS

Copyright © 2007 Scott A. Bonar
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-59726-750-2



CHAPTER 1

A Personal Story

Before we arrived, I knew there would probably be trouble. I was a biologist for the state of Washington and we were going to sample fish in rural Lake Alton in far northwestern Washington. The far western and northern parts of Washington consist of the Olympic, Key, and Kitsap peninsulas. Washington's Olympic Peninsula was a land of deep cedar and hemlock forests, cold mist and rain, crashing surf, and ice-capped summits—a spectacularly beautiful place. The peninsula was one of the last places explored in the continental United States by Europeans. Almost nothing was known about its interior until reconnaissance expeditions led by Lt. Joseph P. O'Neil in the late 1880s hacked and pushed through the soaking, thick vegetation and across steep icy crests, blazing the first trails across this unknown land. The Kitsap and Key peninsulas contained bedroom communities for Seattle on their far eastern sides, and supported two major navy bases; however, their interiors held thickets of second-growth Douglas fir, alder, blackberry, salal, and gravel roads on which you could twist and turn for hours before finding your way out.

Northwestern Washington was never densely populated, and many of those who did live there harbored a rich animosity for government officials, especially conservation professionals. Post–Vietnam era newsletters and magazine articles spoke of "tripwire veterans" dealing with post-traumatic stress syndrome who roamed the deep woods of the area, living off the land and shunning public contact. The town of Aberdeen, on the southern end of the Olympic Peninsula, had the reputation of being the wildest town west of the Mississippi because of excessive gambling, violence, drug use, and prostitution. It was declared off-limits to military personnel as late as the 1980s.

Rapid harvesting of timber and destruction of habitat for the northern spotted owl led the government to restrict the amount of logging that was conducted, which increased animosity even more. Residents of Forks, Washington, a small town in the heart of the Olympic Peninsula, painted all of their fire hydrants to look like loggers, and boasted a holiday called "James Watt Appreciation Day," named after Ronald Reagan's controversial secretary of the interior who was the bane of many environmental groups. At that time, towns throughout the area were known to be unfriendly, even dangerous, to those wearing the uniform of a state or federal conservation agency. Two of my friends, fisheries biologists for the state fish and wildlife department, came under rifle fire from a disgruntled citizen at a rural lake when they were conducting an electrofishing survey in the area. My racquetball partner, also an agency biologist, was beaten up by irate commercial fishermen.

The study of interactions between salmon and introduced fish, such as largemouth bass, was ranked as the highest priority for our research team by fellow state fisheries biologists, and Lake Alton was the perfect site for studying these interactions. Lake Alton was about forty acres and was surrounded by cattail marsh and a few ranch-style and two-story wooden houses. The lake had a large population of coho salmon migrating through it, and it also contained a healthy population of introduced fishes. Several miles downstream, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists had monitored the run of juvenile salmon leaving the watershed for the past twenty years, using a trap located on a small, sunny tidal flat next to Puget Sound.

We were legally entitled to sample the fishes of this lake, and had called landowners who had given us permission to launch our boats from a small common area on the lake. The lake was different than most in that there were two, not one, homeowners associations. While one homeowners association was very cooperative, the other refused all of our efforts to contact them in order to explain the purpose of our project. When I phoned and asked if I could send them some information about our project, a cold voice on the other end of the line said I could send it to them in care of "Fort Alton." They told us, in no uncertain terms, that they did not want us to do a study on "their" lake. Having little luck interacting with this group, we decided to launch our boat from the side of the lake owned by the friendly homeowners association.

On a cold, damp April evening we drove to the lake to launch our electrofishing boat from the common area and sample the fish populations. I led the crew, which consisted of two other biologists and a technician. Large Douglas fir and western hemlock trees lined the twisting two-lane road, small puddles soaked the black pavement, and little clouds of white mist marched across the darkening adjacent hills. The wipers clacked from side to side, and we had the air conditioner turned on to high heat to suck the excess moisture from the windshield so we could see out.

As we neared the lake, a dirty, white, late-model pickup truck appeared in my sideview mirror. It followed closely and would not pass. I felt my stomach turn uneasily as it became apparent that the truck was not trying to get somewhere, but was slowly following us. As we neared the launch, we pulled our trucks to the side of the road and stopped to ready the boat for the lake. Then the white truck gunned around the front of our truck and pulled in at an angle, blocking our way. It screeched to a stop, and a stocky man, dressed in a white, short-sleeved shirt and a pair of old khakis got out from behind the wheel. He was yelling and making his way to me as I exited the driver's side of the truck. I held out my hand to him, to shake hands and calm him down, but he ignored it and continued to shout. Then other people started to gather from a few nearby houses: a tall gaunt man in a cowboy hat; a heavyset woman with a couple of kids dressed in camouflage; some other men and women looking mad and rural. Soon a group of ten to fifteen people were clustered around our trucks, many of them yelling at us and fiercely angry. We were in an isolated area, unarmed, and did not have radio or cell phone contact. I realized I was going to have to talk my way out of this one.

CHAPTER 2

The Importance of Effective People Skills in Conservation

Overuse and degradation of the world's natural resources is becoming critical. In 1980, Paul Ehrlich predicted that the earth's population would reach six billion by 2000. His predictions were very close. The six-billion mark was reached on or about October 12, 1999, and it continues to climb at an annual rate of 1.4 percent per year. This equals two hundred thousand more people each day. Every forty days, a city the size of New York added to the earth. Every four years the entire current population of the United States is added to the globe. More people were added to the globe during the twentieth century than in all previous human history combined.

All this would be less of a problem if the earth did not have a limited carrying capacity, or total mass of people it can support. People deal with the concept of carrying capacity every day. Your garden has a certain total amount of plants it can support. The only way this "base" amount of plants can be increased is through the addition of fertilizer. If there are too many weeds, the amount of desirable plants that can be grown is much less, because the weeds use the food and water that would ordinarily be available for the desirable plants. When we set up a goldfish bowl as kids, we knew the rule of thumb was that there could be no more than one inch of fish per gallon of water. Otherwise the fish tank would be too crowded for the fish to survive. Every waterbody, or landmass, including the planet Earth, has a set amount of organisms, including humans, it can support before mass die-offs occur. However, it is likely that before the carrying capacity is reached, overcrowding, reductions in quality and quantity of food, and pollution would greatly reduce the quality of life.

At the same time the human population is increasing at a geometric rate, species of other animals and plants are disappearing. Many say that species have always disappeared—this is a common occurrence. The dinosaurs are no longer on the earth, wooly mammoth are found only in museums, and the giant ground sloth can be found on savannas no more. However, it is not that species continue to disappear that is disturbing. It is the increasing rate at which these disappearances are occurring that is of concern. Pulitzer Prize–winning ecologist E. O. Wilson cites three different independent methods that conclude the current rate of species extinction is somewhere between one thousand and ten thousand times faster than the extinction rate before the presence of humans.

Other evidence suggests that all should be concerned about degradation of our natural environment. Global warming has been well documented, and if it continues, scientists argue it could lead to the flooding of coastal cities, increases in the frequency and magnitude of storms, and altered precipitation levels, making some areas drier and others wetter. Some people reason that global warming results from natural climate cycles, but a growing number of people point to evidence such as carbon dioxide emissions growing twelvefold between 1900 and 2000 and argue that human production of greenhouse gasses is responsible.


HOW HUMAN BEHAVIOR AFFECTS THE ENVIRONMENT

How can we reverse these disturbing trends? The first step is to recognize the factors that contribute to the depletion of our natural resources. The impact (I) of any population on natural resources was defined by Paul Ehrlich and J. P. Holdren as the product of population size (P), its affluence or per-capita consumption (A), and the environmental damage (T) inflicted by the technology used to supply each unit of consumption: I = PAT.

Human behavior influences each of these variables. The reproductive behavior of people dictates the growth of the population (P). The amount of resources used per person (A) is a function of their behavior. The technology used to extract or process the resources (T) is a function of not only what technology is available, but what technology people adopt.


WHY SHOULD WE PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT?

Currently, how important is the conservation of natural resources to people? Do most people feel that conservation of natural resources is a "luxury," or something required for the very survival of the human species? Most people consider conservation of natural resources important, but in Gallup polls conducted during the past five decades, environmental concerns have never registered as the number one issue for more than 7 percent of the people. In addition, those employed in the natural resources profession have often gotten a bad reputation. I once had a radio talk show host from a religious station ask me what I did for a living. I told him I taught college students about natural resources. He said, "I haven't had a chance to talk with an environmentalist. Why do they consider animals more important than people? Why do they think saving an endangered species is more important than a person's job?" A former secretary of the interior discussed natural resources conservation with me during a telephone call and said, "I'll tell you what's wrong with this country. It's the environmentalists. They're destroying agriculture."

Protecting the environment is not a Republican, Democratic, or any other party issue. It is not a liberal or conservative issue. It is not a rural or urban issue. Protecting the environment is in everybody's interest and is everybody's problem. Economic, scientific, moral, and religious arguments have all been made to support respect and protection for the environment.

Often those who say that environmental regulations should be relaxed state that it is a choice between jobs and the protection of natural resources. However, prominent economists have found this logic faulty. More than one hundred economists across the United States, including two Nobel laureates, wrote a letter to President George W. Bush and the governors of eleven western states in 2003. In this letter they declared that there was little evidence to support the claim that economic declines occur if the decision is made to protect natural resources. In fact, the West's natural environment is, arguably, its greatest, long-term economic strength. According to these economists, economies of western states are strongly dependant on a high quality of life and tourism. Instead of net jobs lost when environmental protection is enforced, jobs lost in a consumptive industry, such as mining, are counterbalanced by jobs gained in ecotourism, and by high-tech companies that move to the area because quality of life is better. According to economists Ernie Neimi, Ed Whitelaw, and Andrew Johnston this was strikingly illustrated by the northern spotted owl controversy in the Pacific Northwest. Despite many predictions that the economy in the Pacific Northwest would experience a huge downturn when logging was restricted to protect old-growth timber and the northern spotted owl, impacts were much less to the region than predicted, and economic growth actually occurred. Presumably, these same arguments could be effectively made for other regions of the globe as well. Ernie Neimi further underscores this point by saying, "When I go into a room and ask people if they would like a 20% increase in income, everybody's hand goes up. When I then say 'How many of you are willing to move to New York City to realize this increase?' the hands quickly drop, with few exceptions." This shows the substantial economic value of the surrounding environment and other amenities to people. It also shows that, through their management of these amenities, communities can attract households (or drive them away)."

The world's major religions all advocate respect for the world's environment. In the Judeo-Christian religious tradition, the Bible states in Genesis that man was placed in the Garden of Eden to take care of it—to be a steward of the Earth's resources. In Islam, man was given a similar stewardship trust over the environment. The Koran advocates that man can use from the environment, but not to excess. Out of concern for the total living environment, Buddhists often extend loving-kindness beyond people and animals to include plants and the earth itself.

Some argue that we can use as many and whatever resources we want—God will take care of us. Others say this argument is a bit like the old joke about the man who climbed the roof of his house when it flooded. Two boats came past and the people in both said, "Jump in and we will save you!" The man said, "No, God will protect me." Another boat came by, and the people in it said, "Jump in the boat, this is your last chance to escape!" The man said, "No, God will save me." Finally, the flood waters came over the roof and drowned the man. When he went to heaven he asked God, "Why didn't you save me?" God said, "What do you mean? I sent three boats!" Many religious leaders argue that God has already given us the needed tools to protect our environment—it is up to us to decide to use them.

For those who are not religious there are plenty of other reasons to protect and conserve the environment. Most people know that on a large scale, the quality of their environment is important for their very survival. However, some can question why it is important to save individual species from destruction. With some species, it is easy to make an argument for their protection because they are loved, charismatic, or important symbols. Can you imagine our national symbol, the bald eagle, going extinct? Not being able to go anywhere to see grizzly bears, tigers, whales, or giant redwoods? However, for less charismatic species, there are strong arguments as well.

Individual species can serve as "canaries in the coal mine," warning of degraded conditions that may not be fit for humans. The presence or absence of certain species of insects in streams is regularly used to indicate stream pollution. Small plants called lichens are being used in an attempt to detect high levels of metals in the air around southern Arizona towns. These metals are thought to be responsible for increased death rates in the area due to childhood leukemia. It is hoped that the lichens will be able to absorb metals more effectively than conventional detectors.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Conservation Professional's Guide to Working with People by Scott A. Bonar. Copyright © 2007 Scott A. Bonar. Excerpted by permission of ISLAND PRESS.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


Foreword   Duane L. Shroufe     xiii
Preface     xv
A Personal Story     1
The Importance of Effective People Skills in Conservation     5
How Human Behavior Affects the Environment     6
Why Should We Protect the Environment?     7
How Good Are Natural Resources Professional at Modifying Human Behavior?     10
Examples of People Skills in Action: Lake Davis and Devil's Hole     12
Conclusion     19
Chapter Summary     20
How to Resolve Conflict and Defuse Contentious Situations: Verbal Judo and Other Communication Techniques     21
Verbal Judo     23
Understand Your Critic     23
The Verbal Judo Stage or Disarming Your Critic     26
Diplomatically State Your Point of View     33
Verbal Judo in Action-The Angry Man in the Truck     36
Communication in Crisis Situations     40
Gundersen and Hopper Techniques     40
Thompson Verbal Judo Methods     43
Dealing with Hecklers-A Common Occurrence for Conservation Professionals     45
Conclusion     46
Chapter Summary     47
How to Persuade People     49
Needs of People     51
Techniques of Influence     54
Liking and Similarity     56
Authority     57
Reciprocation     60
Commitment and Consistency     61
Social Proof     63
Scarcity     65
Conclusion     69
Chapter Summary     69
Customer Service and Getting Funded     71
Secrets of Customer Service     72
Getting Funded     76
Using Influence Principles     78
Project Wrap-Up and the Importance of Being Timely     80
The Asian Tapeworm: An Example of Obtaining Project Funding     80
Conclusion     82
Chapter Summary     82
How to Negotiate Effectively     85
Interest-Based Bargaining     87
Know and Improve Your BATNA. Cast Doubts on Theirs     89
Focus on Underlying Interests, Not Positions     93
Invent Options for Mutual Gain     95
Use Objective Criteria to Argue for "the Package" You Favor     96
Negotiate as if Relationships Mattered     97
Two Examples of Real-Life Negotiations: The Reserve Mining Company and Snoqualmie Dam     98
Conclusion     99
Chapter Summary      100
How Management Yourself     101
Time Management     102
The Master List     104
Review of Your Master List     106
The Daily List     107
Avoiding the Timewasters     108
Organizing Paperwork and Equipment     110
The TRAF System     111
What to Do If Your Workspace Looks Like a Disaster Area     113
Organizing Field Equipment     113
Coping with Stress, Depression, or Anxiety     113
Conclusion     120
Chapter Summary     120
How to Effectively Manage Personnel     123
How to Hire Good Staff     124
How to Manage Staff     127
Getting Rid of the Problem Employee     132
Working with Your Boss     134
Conclusion     137
Chapter Summary     137
How to Make a Good Impression in the Field     139
Tips for Everybody     140
Be Organized     141
Keep the Right Attitude     141
Respect Private Property     145
Be First to Tackle the Toughest Tasks     145
Clean and Repair Borrowed Equipment     146
More Quickly and Accurately When Working      147
Prioritize Safety     148
Tips for Supervisors     150
Arrive First, Leave Last     150
Demonstrate, Don't Tell     151
Treat Volunteers and Staff Like Gold     152
Conclusion     153
Chapter Summary     153
Defending Yourself from Dirty Tricks, Machiavellianism, and Other Annoyances     155
How to Defend Yourself Against Underhanded Tactics     156
Character Assassination, Bullying, and Scapegoating     157
Dealing with Those Who Steal Your Ideas and Take Credit     163
Bureaucratic Intransigence     165
Naysayers     167
Lying     168
Dirty Tricks During Negotiation     170
What If You Screw Up?     172
Machiavelli and The Prince     172
Conclusion     174
Chapter Summary     175
Conclusion     177
Notes     181
Index     192
About the Author     199
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