Natural Resources Communication Workshop

My friend Jon Hooper has asked that I pass along the word that his Natural Resources Communication Workshop will be given January 11-15, 2010. Jon’s course is well worth it. His admonition for all presentations (CBS–Colorful, Bold, & Simple) has stuck with me lo these many years.


January 11-15, 2010

The Natural Resources Communication Workshop, sponsored by the Western Section of The Wildlife Society, is designed to help natural resource workers more effectively communicate with general as well as technical audiences through personal presentations using good visual aids.  The workshop focuses on the use of computer-generated images created with Microsoft’s PowerPoint software.  The workshop is practical-oriented and enhances participants’ communication skills in planning, preparing, presenting, and evaluating presentations.  Since many of the problems in natural resources management are people-oriented, more effective communication can significantly improve many management programs.

Workshop Content:

1. Discussion topics include:

  • Planning:  communication principles, audience analysis, graphic design
  • Preparing:  creating computer-generated graphics, photo­graphic composition, rehearsal tips
  • Presenting: equipment setup, speaking tips, dealing with difficult audiences
  • Evaluating:  evaluation of performance

2. Each participant will bring a selection of computer-generated images (ex., graphics created with PowerPoint or other presentation software programs) for organization into an illustrated talk.

3. Each participant will prepare graphics (titles, graphs, charts, maps, cartoons, etc.) to be used in their presentations.

4. Each participant will give a 5- and 15-minute presentation (which will include graphics prepared during the workshop).  These presentations will be evaluated by the class and the instructors.

Instructional Team: Dr. Jon K. Hooper, Professor, Calif. State Univ., Chico (Certified Wildlife Biologist, Certified Interpretive Trainer, Ph.D. in Wildlife Ecology, 35 years teaching communication workshops around the country), Mr. Ethan Rotman, Calif. Dept. of Fish and Game (Coordinator, Fishing in the City in the San Francisco Bay Area, Certified Interpretive Trainer, Certified Interpretive Guide, Certified Interpretive Manager, 30 years of professional experience as an environmental interpreter and communicator), and Ms. Kim Rubin, (tour guide, interpreter, 9 years experience facilitating the Natural Resources Communication Workshop).

Location: California State University, Chico (90 miles north of Sacramento)

University Credit: Participants receive 1-unit CSUC Continuing Education credit; the workshop is worth 32 hours of continuing wildlife education credit through The Wildlife Society’s Professional Development Program (Category II).

Application Procedure: The initial deadline for applications is October 30, 2009 (Friday). Late applications are accepted (such applicants will become participants if the workshop is not yet full; otherwise, they will be placed on a waiting list in case of cancellations).  The registration fee is $749. The workshop is limited to 16 participants.  Since more applicants usually apply than there are spaces available, the registration fee is not due until an applicant has been officially accepted into the workshop (this occurs shortly after the October 30 deadline).

Since the workshop has a limited capacity, all applicants will be contacted after October 30, 2009 to notify them if they have been accepted.  Instructions on paying the registration fee will be provided at that time.  Payment must be received before applicants will be fully registered.  Failure to make timely payment will result in alternate applicants being selected.

To apply, send a letter, fax, or email describing: (1) your current position within your agency or organization, (2) how you will use the training, (3) any special reasons why you feel you should be chosen as a participant, and (4) if you already have official agency/organization approval to attend.  In your application, include your address, phone number, fax number, and email. To apply or for more information, write or call:

Dr. Jon K. Hooper

Dept. Recreation and Parks Management

California State University, Chico

Chico, CA 95929-0560

(530) 898-5811 or 898-6408

fax: (530) 898-6557   e-mail:

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FLASH!!! Participants in the 2010 workshop will not only learn professional tips for using PowerPoint, but also will gain exposure to Photoshop Elements (digital photo editing and cataloging software).



January 11-15, 2010 at Calif. State University, Chico

Instructional Team: Jon Hooper, Ethan Rotman, and Kim Rubin


8:00 –   8:30 Registration

8:30 –   10:00 Workshop Overview  (Step 1: Pass the “Source Test”)

10:00 – 12:00 “Planning the Presentation Using the Targeted Design Approach”   (Step 2: Determine Your Target)

12:00 – 1:15 Lunch

1:15 – 4:00 “Outlining the Presentation”  (Step 3: Organize It)

4:00 – 5:00 “Designing Great Graphics”  (Step 4: Visualize It)


8:00 – 10:00 “Designing Great Graphics” (cnt’d)

10:00 – 12:00 Lab Exercise: “A PowerPoint Presentation Anyone Can Create”

12:00 – 1:15 Lunch

1:15 –    2:15 “PowerPoint Pitfalls (and How to Purge Them from Your Presentation)”

2:15 – 4:00 Lab

4:00 –    4:30 “Computer Hardware: Scanners, Card Readers, etc.”

4:30 –    5:00 “Adding Audio and Video to PowerPoint”


8:00 –   9:00   Lab Exercise: “An Introduction to Photoshop Elements”

9:00 –   11:00   Lab

11:00 –   11:30    “Digital Photography”

11:30 –   12:00   “Presentation Do’s and Dont’s”  (Step 5: Plan Facilities and Equipment)

12:00 –    1:15   Lunch

1:15 –   1:45   “Adding Presentation Sheen” (Step 6: Rehearse It)

“Working with a Host” (Step 7: Use a Host)

1:45 –    3:00    “Verbal Victories: Dealing with Difficult Audiences” (Step 8: Present It)

3:00 –    5:00            Lab

6:30 –    9:00            Lab (optional)


8:00 – 12:00 5-minute briefings by participants  (Step 9: Evaluate It)

12:00 – 1:15 Lunch

1:15 – 4:00 5-minute briefings by participants

4:00 – 4:30 “Cataloging Your Digital Images Using Photoshop Album”

4:30 – 5:00 “Hints from the Pros” (time permitting)


8:00 – 12:00 15-minute briefings by participants

12:00 – 1:15 Lunch

1:15 – 4:30 15-minute briefings by participants

4:30 – 5:00 Summary and workshop evaluation

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Pitch It

Lexi asked me to say more about the “Pitch.” For those of you who don’t know, a “pitch” is a soccer (or for Lexi, a football) field. It is 90-120 meters by…. It is also what an ale brewer does with the wort….

A “pitch” is the selling of a writer and his (or her) work to an agent or publisher. The pitch is akin to speed dating for writers.

The speed dating analogy seems apt. Each of you are considering having a relationship. If there’s a good fit you will become a team. You will write and do some promotion and allow her (or him) to do her (or his) job which is trying to make the most for your writing. She (or he) will take 15% of everything you make forever.

I am not an expert. I have been only to conferences hosted by the Las Vegas Writers and the Willamette Writers. Their formats varied slightly. Willamette has non-fiction, novel, and screenplay pitching. I don’t recall what LV had beside fiction. All I can do is give my impressions and I’ll use the WWC since it’s my most recent experience. I did a bit of prep before the pitch:

  • Know the agent’s preferences and specialties. You need to know your audience for a pitch—don’t pitch a horror book to an agent specializing in children’s books.
  • What is the book about?
  • Why are you the person to write this? What makes you qualified?
  • Why now?

I took a résumé folder with my business card attached, the first five pages of my novel enclosed, the working title on the front, and no illusions about going all the way. While I had no illusions, I had hope. There are authors who have gotten book deals from these events. An agent’s want is simple: “The truth, brilliantly told.”

Before the pitch session I waited outside the meeting room along with thirty or so others. Inside, the agents sit, one to a table, waiting for the next writer. When the doors open, I was carried along through as if the dam were breached and I was a cork on the pond. Pitchers have ten minutes, from the moment the doors open, to tell the agent they’ve signed up to pitch to, why you’re the one his (or her) agency simply must sign.

After I sat down, I introduced myself, handed the folder to the agent, and gave him/her a quick synopsis of the story and why I was qualified to write the story: “The God of Trees is an eco mystery-thriller about a forester who wants to continue logging but an eco-terrorist group stands in his way. I’m a forester with thirty years of experience with the California Department of Forestry.” We chatted a bit after that about the current climate about environmental topics. One agent asked to see one hundred pages, the other requested the first three chapters.

I don’t think anyone should read too much into this. By the agents using a writing conference to screen potential writers they know that the writer is serious enough to plunk down cash for the opportunity to be listened to.

By asking to see a sample they don’t have to say no directly to the writer’s face. The chance of landing a contract with an agent and then with a publisher is slim.

After ten minutes, the doors opened and border collies nipping at my heels herded me out.

For more about pitching your work see:

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Writing about forestry II

We just got back from San Luis Obispo. I spoke at the student chapter of the Society of American Foresters (SAF) there. It may seem odd to drive my high-performance Swedish driving machine (with 180K on the odometer) fourteen hours, seven minutes, 800 miles (roundtrip), and spend $118.66 for gas (plus $ for food and lodging), to talk to twenty people for a total of twenty minutes. It is. They gave me pizza. And it was good.

Thanks to Nikki Gross of Cal Poly’s SAF for inviting me. Thanks to Dr. Doug Piirto for sending out an email to lots of folks letting them know about my talk. Thanks to many of those folks taking time out of their day and studying for midterms to listen. And thanks to Norm Pillsbury for shining on his office hours to see me. My life is richer for it.

We talked about writing. The Cal Poly students and professors I talked with are experts in forestry. They know their stuff. Their writing in the professional journals is important. Yet, we need to look outward. I hope one of them starts a blog about forestry.

We also talked about my novel The God of Trees

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