REACHING OUT TO COMMUNITIES TO IDENTIFY AND ADDRESS LOCAL CONCERN
Professionals trained in areas such as engineering, planning, and geoscience provide expert assistance. This assistance is obtained using grants or contracts and the professionals may be academic researchers, state or federal agency employees, or professional consulting firms or individuals. Citizen advisory groups are comprised of interested community members, including experts, activists, and affected residents. The groups are usually voluntary and unpaid, but they play a vital role by reviewing information, providing feedback to community leaders and paid consultants, and setting priorities.
Geoscientists who limit themselves to providing expert assistance are missing an opportunity if they do not also participate in citizen advisory groups. Because the advisory group provides direction and is a liaison to the community, it can benefit from the inclusion of local geoscientists who appreciates the needs of the community and understands the demands and limitations of the science and can help the group understand the interactions between the two interests. In addition, by participating in a citizen advisory group, the geoscientist can develop a better understanding of what information such a group would hope to receive from a professional expert and how such a group might receive, interpret, and use that information.
This presentation will discuss the roles of professionals and citizen advisory groups, the benefits and limitations of participation in both roles, and examples of each.