Working with Zoos, Aquariums, and Museums to Engage Ethnically Diverse Communities in Conservation
Wei Ying Wong wants to work with zoos, aquariums, and museums (ZAMs) to engage minority populations in conservation. ZAMs in the U.S. reach more than 175 million visitors each year and The Ocean Project’s market research indicates that recent ZAM visitors are much more likely to take conservation action. However, many ZAMs do not currently have a widely diverse visitor base and are therefore missing an opportunity to engage a potentially important ally in conservation.
Since minorities consistently express a greater willingness to take conservation, as well as report as more likely to vote for a politician based on their position on environmental issues, Wei Ying believes that reaching out to minorities is critical for the long-term viability of the conservation movement.
Living and working in different countries, Wei Ying has always been fascinated by the ways in which different belief systems and worldviews interact and struggle to communicate. This was brought to the fore in her research on invasive species where she struggled to transform stakeholder narratives to shift the blame-assignation (on the part of the advocates) and resistance/resentment (on the part of detractors and minorities) to one of cooperative stewardship.
For her Toyota TogetherGreen fellowship, Wei Ying used lessons learned from life and research to work with ZAMs to develop/expand on their cultural competency to more effectively reach out to diverse communities. Whether through developing outreach materials appropriate to their constituencies, or providing cultural interpreters to assist in decoding, or incorporating diverse social needs in their spatial planning, help from Toyota TogetherGreen gave Wei Ying the opportunity to being a journey towards greater cultural competency.