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Guidebook 59 Non-Transportation Best Practices 4 Practice Association of Fish and Wildlife Best Agencies Context Building relationships with key decision makers, The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies such as congressional officials, is considered critical (AFWA), representing all of North America's fish and to the AFWA. Regular, personal contact helps create wildlife agencies, promotes sound management a presence for the association and has helped the and speaks with a unified voice on emerging fish AFWA build a reputation among those officials. and wildlife conservation programs and activities to Developing relationships with congressional staff, protect the continent's natural resources. A Science as well, is considered as important as developing and Research Liaison within the organization works relationships with congressional officials. closely with a variety of partners to initiate and Furthermore, finding champions who will advocate provide timely, credible, science-based information for the association, its mission, and its research that can be used by resource managers to protect efforts is a part of the AFWA's communication and manage fish, wildlife, and their habitats in the strategy. public interest. Current issues involved in AFWA Challenges research include the impacts of wind power on fish and wildlife, global climate change, and hurricane Information overload on the part of communication restoration and recovery. recipients is considered one of the challenges of communication for the AFWA. Another The AFWA considers its members to be its challenge is ensuring that recipients understand primary audience. The U.S. Congress, sportsman's the information given to them, particularly when organizations, conservation groups, and the general it involves complex, technical information. The public are also considered to be key audiences. The association focuses its communication efforts on AFWA has a Science and Research Program, which is issues of current interest, which is largely defined designed to strengthen cooperation between state, as those issues deemed most critical by the federal, private, and international agencies and public. To ensure there are no misunderstandings partners. The Science and Research Program seeks or miscommunications about the information it to expand and enhance scientific capabilities and distributes to congressional and elected officials, the services by matching state research needs with the AFWA feels it is imperative to have someone discuss science capabilities of federal agencies. the information with the official's staff beforehand. Communication Approach Outcomes Targeting communication materials and messages With goals of increasing stable, long-term funding to specific audiences is common practice for the through federal legislation and seeking annual AFWA. The association creates several materials congressional appropriations to help finance fish that are similar (such as newsletters, information and wildlife conservation programs, the AFWA has kits, and fact sheets), but distributes the materials successfully targeted Congress as its key audience. using different methods, depending on the In 2000, AFWA efforts included passage of the audience. The AFWA believes in being creative with Wildlife Conservation Restoration and State Wildlife communications, particularly to bring attention to Grants Programs. In April 2006, when a massive cut specific elements of fish and wildlife successes. An threatened the State Wildlife Grants Program, the example of this creativity is the awards they bestow association led an intensive five-week campaign upon congressional members. of grassroots leadership and media to help restore program funding in the Senate.