Sarah Maze is the public relations coordinator for the nonprofit organization Friends of Buford Park and Mt. Pisgah in Eugene, Ore. This organization protects and enhances native ecosystems and public recreation areas in the Eugene region across 4,700 acres and with the efforts of more than 500 volunteers. Her role is to share with the community knowledge and love for the protected environment. She said, “My hope is that the awareness of the environment and efforts of the community will spread and that everyone will be able to share the experiences that they have in the diverse ecosystems of this region.” She knows all of the volunteers and project members and the special roles that they play in the habitat conservation efforts in Lane County and participates in nearly all of the organization’s events and projects.
Sarah manages several social media platforms, the organization’s website and releases monthly newsletters to promote content about the organization’s projects and volunteer efforts. She works with clear budget management and marketing goals, and plans out events that immerse residents, youth and students in the protected Oregon lands. Some of the ways she communicates her messages about the organization are newsletters, website updates, calendar postings, hosting volunteer appreciation events, social media updates with articles and photographs. These all provide a solid representation of the organization and influence fundraising and volunteer participation.
To reach out to participants and interested community members, she uses the photographs of projects and volunteers in action and employs the help of journalism interns who attend events with cameras and write articles. Her role in the organization increases the participation of community members and coordinates the interests of local agencies such as the Boy Scouts of America and others to work in conserved land areas for protection against invasive species and to clean up refuse.
One project that was well documented on the organization’s website and social media accounts took place in the Meadowlark area, which is a 256-acre habitat located on the east side of Buford Park in Lane County. This project required project planning by certified botanists and stewards, employed the use of forestry crews, volunteers, and the boy and girl scouts who cleaned the area of invasive species. Their contributions are published by Sarah Maze on the organization’s communication outlets. These updates keep the community informed and display the invaluable efforts of enthusiastic volunteers engaged in a variety of tasks and most likely getting their hands dirty.
A focal point of this organization’s work is ensuring that the public can enjoy these natural areas and that changes are made with consideration for public appreciation of the areas. “A key message to communicate is the positive impact and efforts of conservation projects and the connection that people share with nature,” Sarah said. Many of the conserved habitats in Lane County such as Meadowlark are open to the public and hiking, biking, and equestrian activities are welcomed.