Expanded and updated second edition due mid-2013 from Global Professional Publishing! Click here to register your interest and I will notify you as soon as it is published.
Seven steps to successful environmental training programs
How you can make a difference.
Everyday workplace activities cause a host of problems that bedevil businesses and government bodies. Are you constantly fighting a rearguard action against:
- spills of paint, concrete and other materials from building sites?
- sediment runoff from land development and heavy construction?
- spills, poor air quality and contaminated soils from industrial sites?
- sediment, concrete and bitumen problems from utility works in urban areas?
- soil erosion, contaminated runoff and loss of stream bank habitat in rural areas?
Collectively, these and other problems cause worsening water quality, fisheries and recreational values that give rise to many public complaints and growing community concerns about the environment.
They also represent a real loss of productivity for the businesses that cause them – something these firms are genuinely unaware of.
How would you like to put in place a solution that can reduce these problems? And at the same time:
- save business and government alike a great deal of time and money
- build lasting partnerships between government, business and the community
- build real skills in all these sectors, contributing to the knowledge economy
- – and make a real difference for the environment!
Environmental training programs provide just this solution.
In my book you can find out the secrets of success from a highly successful environmental training program of nearly 20 years duration. It sets out step by step what you need to do to set up an environmental training program that is long-lived, effective and highly acclaimed.
Feedback on the 1st Edition
“I love the layout, principles, and your conversational style. It is a gem and I'll spread the word.” Professor Mark Hostetler, Professor, Interim Chair, Department of Wildlife Ecology & Conservation, IFAS, University of Florida, USA.
Feedback when I spoke on the topic of my book at the NZ Association of Environmental Education conference, January 2012, was very favorable: one attendee said my presentation was “edgy, informative and refreshingly un-PC”.
“I was really impressed with your presentation… such huge potential for making a real difference to environmental outcomes.” Jenny Baker, ECO (Environment & Conservation Organisations of Aotearoa).
“I thoroughly enjoyed your session and learnt information that I hope to apply in my own workplace”. Dr Coral Pepper from Edith Cowan University in Western Australia.
A practical workbook with plenty of spaces for writing, jotting and drawing
Are you surrounded by lots of little scraps of paper with ‘To Do’ lists on them?
Do you have ideas scattered across countless office files?
Have you put off researching the potential of environmental training because it’s just too daunting?
My book will help you carry our your research and reporting in a series of straightforward steps based on my experience with many successful environmental training programs. It contains tables, diagrams, eight case studies of different environmental training programs and links to many sources of further information.
It is accompanied by a free Workbook that will, keep all your thinking in one place. It has over 40 full-page worksheets, an action plan at the end to help you work out what you need to do first and blank mindmap pages for open thinking, or the doodling you do while thinking creatively.
Make sure you capture all the information, ideas and learnings you generate as you set up, run and review your program – this will be your gift to posterity!
Best of all – following the seven steps will make your training truly user-centered and irresistibly relevant.
Environmental training is a growth industry: it creates new professions that transform business and ecosystems – but few environmental experts are experienced trainers.
My book is for environmental experts who need to train others.
Many organizations find they need to carry out environmental training and have professional experts already on their staff who can deliver it.
Trainers call these invaluable people ‘subject matter experts’ and many of them are naturally good trainers. But over the years I’ve learned a lot of things that can get them more quickly to where they want to go.
Training is a serious profession, as I found out for myself when I attended a ‘Train the Trainer’ workshop to prepare myself to develop and deliver a major environmental training program. It was scary being exposed to a big field of knowledge I knew very little about, and I immediately recognized I needed to take this new learning on board.
Let me introduce myself. My name is Clare Feeney and I have worked in the environmental field for over 20 years, with a particular focus on environmental education and training for businesses. My technical work in watershed management, industrial waste minimization and resource efficiency, streambank restoration, sewage and stormwater management, environmental evaluation and many other areas has made me one of those ‘subject matter experts’.
I realized I had to become a trainer as well as an environmental manager when staff of an environmental regulatory agency asked me to help them develop a major training program. So I joined the local branch of the Association of Training and Development and it was one of the best moves I ever made!
I was so impressed by the benefits of environment training that I presented a conference paper way back in 1999 on three totally different environmental training programs I’d been working on. These were for people handling household hazardous waste, inspecting and certifying septic tanks, and carrying out erosion and sediment control on large construction sites. My paper won Third Prize in the Paper of the Year category – the first time a non-technical paper had received such an award in that professional association’s then 41 years of history.
Eleven years later, I presented a more detailed paper on the erosion and sediment control training program at a conference in Vancouver Canada in 2010.
When that program started my co-trainer and I thought there might be two or three years of training to deliver, then everyone would be trained and we could stop.
What actually happened turned out to be quite different: 15 years later, the program is still going and has been endorsed by major government agencies that require their service providers to attend. Moreover this highly successful program has – like the programs we looked at when starting out – inspired a number of similar programs around the country.
We’ve even had people from other countries attend our workshops to find out what we do.
We created a ‘premier’ program!
Michael Frankcombe, President of IECA (the International Erosion Control Association) of Australasia said it’s "the premier program in our region bar none".
Mike was talking about good examples of soil and water management programs at a local and state government level in Australia – and it was a New Zealand program – ours – that he’d named!
This is high praise indeed – the Australians, like the Americans, are doing wonderful work.
We created a new profession!
The training program and the wider erosion and sediment control program in which it sits have been so successful that we ended up creating a whole new profession: environmental managers on large construction sites. These highly skilled people move freely between development, engineering design and contracting companies, as well as environmental regulatory agencies and specialist consulting firms. I’ve seen over the years how this exchange of knowledge and perspective adds tremendous value to each of these organizations.
Similar outcomes are seen all round the world as different sectors grapple with sustainability and progressively adopt more sustainable practices as a result of the workplace role of these emerging sustainability professionals. For example, such is the drive for more sustainable retail in the UK that retail companies are recruiting entire sustainability teams, building a workforce of sustainability professionals in the retail sector.
We’re seeing the emergence of a whole new cluster of professions – environmental experts – in every sector of the economy.
We won a major award!
My co-trainer Brian Handyside and I were jointly awarded the ‘Outstanding Contribution Award’ in 2009 by the New Zealand Association of Resource Management (NZARM) for our work in training and building relationships with the heavy construction industry. This occasional award is not given out every year, and we were both overwhelmed with this recognition from our peers.
It was out of all this experience that I decided to write a book. It’s become a much bigger project than I imagined: once I started writing, I realized how much more we’d learned since I wrote those all-too-brief conference papers. My ongoing work since publishing the 1st edition in September 2011 will make for a significantly expanded 2nd edition in mid-2013.
What’s in the book?
I have a ‘thing’ about program monitoring and evaluation. So my book tells you how to set up your environmental management and environmental training programs in such a way that you can actually measure your programs’ implementation and outcomes! This is something that environmental managers and trainers alike really struggle with.
We use a simple and robust approach to program planning: it’s called logic modeling. We’ve made it even better for environmental purposes by incorporating into it a framework for monitoring outcomes that is endorsed by the United Nations Environment Program.
The logic model and outcomes framework will help you build a 1-page diagram that can involve all your stakeholders in its preparation, explain your entire program to anyone and enable ongoing monitoring of your environmental management program’s outcomes and cost-effectiveness, including of the training component.
But you need to ask two hard questions before you get that far:
- is training the solution to your environmental problem?
- why should your organization do the training? That is, can, should or will anyone else do it instead?
Be sure that if you don't ask these questions your managers will.
My book will help you answer these questions. More than that it will help you:
- find partners within and beyond your organization
- make a compelling case for the needs and benefits of your training
- understand your trainees and their learning needs
- develop training content and delivery that works for you
- measure the success of your training
- gain long term resourcing and support for your program
Free resources for buyers only
As a buyer of the book you will get a login and password to access free online resources that will give you some helpful shortcuts. Examples of the 16 resources so far available include:
- workshop logistics checklists
- standard registration letters
- workshop evaluation sheets
- email list agreement forms
- attendance certificates
- and much, much more.
Case studies of successful environmental training programs
The book contains eight case studies of successful training programs drawn from three different countries, showing how successful environmental training can address issues as diverse as:
- stream bank planting on farms
- pollution prevention for manufacturers
- environmental management for utilities
- ecosystem restoration by first nation peoples
- environmental controls for the civil construction sector
Why good environmental training benefits businesses and communities
There’s never been a better time to train. Why? Because as Josh Bivens says in New Scientist issue 2857 (24 March 2012), when the economy is doing well, environmental regulation has no effect on job growth; but when it isn’t, such regulation is very likely to create jobs at a very low marginal cost.
Among the many things I’ve learned from my association with many successful environmental training programs is that they are good for everyone involved:
- businesses benefit because good environmental management saves considerable time and money otherwise wasted in responding to environmental incidents instead of doing productive work for their customers
- businesses with good environmental systems are usually all-round good operators that are more profitable than their less responsible industry peers
- environmental regulators benefit from gaining a better understanding of business pressures and drivers, and can help firms comply with the law in ways that add business value
- communities – who often demand that environmental regulators and businesses deliver better environmental performance – benefit from seeing ongoing environmental problems progressively addressed in ways that the whole community can enjoy
Who needs this book?
The principles of the book and my experience with the civil construction and manufacturing sectors have major appeal to audiences in:
- rapidly developing economies such as China, India, some other parts of Asia and parts of South Africa and South America. The accelerating pace of urbanization and rural-urban migration poses a serious threat to environmental quality and community amenity: in 2007 the World Bank conservatively estimated the cost of China’s pollution at 5.8% of its GDP – trillions of dollars
- stagnating economies in the developed world, where people are focusing more and more on a more meaningful life and healthier natural environments: here, the restoration economy described by Storm Cunningham has major potential to leverage the environmental skills emerging in many sectors to restore and revitalize people and places
Within those audiences, my book is suitable for any agency delivering long-term environmental training programs within their own organization or for other organizations.
: you can use my book to develop and enhance the education and training programs you run or support, and to work constructively with your community sectors.
using my book will help you to develop your students’ capacity to make a difference in their chosen workplaces.
Businesses and utilities:
you can use my book to help set up environmental training for your own staff and subcontractors. You can also have input to government-sponsored environmental training programs for businesses in order to make sure that your needs and constraints are well understood: this will strengthen the relevance and effectiveness of the training for all parties.
Government agencies and not-for-profit groups:
: use this book to set up your own environmental training programs for specific target audiences, such as people doing on-the-ground environmental work in any sector.
Supply chain managers:
my book will help any organization wanting to include sustainability in its supply chains and procurement policies. It will help you take a training approach to building the environmental capacity of your existing and prospective service providers.
More reasons why there’s never been a better time to train
We are living in times of great uncertainty for businesses and government agencies alike.
That’s why it’s a great time for businesses to take the opportunity to train their staff: while we are working hard to get what little work is out there and struggling to keep afloat, we sometimes find ourselves with more time on our hands.
So how about we remind our staff that we value them and want to invest in them for when the work returns – or even and to create new work?
As Zig Ziglar said, ‘There’s only one thing worse than training your staff and having them leave, and that’s NOT training them and having them stay.’
Environmental training can create new business opportunities, and may even inspire staff to come up with creative ideas.
Still more ideas can emerge when businesses, communities (which are suffering, too, in these uncertain times) and government agencies get together on environmental issues and identify solutions, including training. Some of the solutions may make a difference to a surprising range of problems.
So…. let’s think about training now to head off intensifying environmental and related problems when things pick up… or even to help them pick up.
The most fundamental and important of the seven steps is Partnership. My book will help you identify the partners within your own organization who have an interest in the outcomes your training could deliver.
And you will feel reassured about engaging with external partners when you read about a major training program that was outstandingly successful right from the start – despite the need for the trainees to comply with a new environmental performance standard that was backed up by legal enforcement.
What surprised us most about the use of enforcement on major construction sites was the relief felt by responsible operators. They were unanimously glad that the ‘fly-by-night’ operators who undercut prices by avoiding or skimping on environmental controls were finally being called to account.
Any responsible industry wants a good environmental track record, and its members will welcome great training backed up by the other supporting elements of a robust environmental management program.
And it’s your external and internal partners who will be the ones whose support will keep your training program alive and exciting for many years.
Why did I write this book?
I’d like to say that I wrote this book to save others from making expensive mistakes or to allow them replicate our carefully-planned success or for some other intelligent and altruistic reason – but the fact is, I wrote it because I felt like it.
I’d just written my second conference paper on environmental training and my client’s organization was about to go one of the most far-reaching political re-organizations in my country’s history – and I wanted to tell the story of its training programs in case the knowledge dispersed with the inevitable diaspora of staff that would – and did – follow.
As I wrote I realized more and more clearly that the world of training and the world of environmental management have such a lot to offer each other and the everyday world we all live in.
This book comes straight from the heart: I truly believe in the transformative potential of environmental training and want everyone to know about it.
Be a part of the book!
I’d love you to share any case studies, evaluations or resources that will help us all make our environmental training programs a wild success. I will gladly acknowledge you as the source.
This material will go on the exclusive ‘buyers only’ page of my website where people engaged in this vital work can access it. In this way, we’ll build a wonderful resource that will only increase in value over time.
With all my best wishes for your successful environmental training program -
Want to find out more about my work? Click here.