Why Outreach Matters: Building Relationships in the Community
After a busy spring and summer season in the Beaver Hills Biosphere, Outreach and Engagement Coordinator Pamela Billey welcomes the slowdown that fall brings.
“When I talk to other outreach coordinators, the thing we all have in common is we’re busy!” Pamela says.
So far in 2023, Pamela has connected with 650 people and attended countless events. At each event, Pamela puts her bubbly personality to work, connecting with individuals and organizations, as well as facilitating connections between the people she meets. Listening deeply and understanding people’s needs – even unspoken ones – and understanding the programs and organizations with the tools to meet those needs are critical to this role.
“Listening is so important because you can promote an event or raise awareness all you want, but hearing people’s concerns and building real connections is how we get people engaged,” Pamela explains. “I'm really motivated by learning from other people and getting to know their stories.”
Beaver Hills Biosphere’s Executive Director, Brian Ilnicki, says hiring dedicated outreach and engagement staff is critical to keeping the organization connected to stakeholders and the public so the Biosphere can meet its organizational goals.
“I feel that having a dedicated individual who has the skills that Pamela possesses really helps us understand the local community needs and helps us to develop and refine our programming so that we can be as successful and effective as possible,” Brian adds.
Outreach goes two ways – the coordinator needs to listen and understand the community’s needs but they’re also tasked with promoting the organization and its programs – which requires telling a compelling story. Why should someone be involved and how will it benefit them? How will it connect to their passions? Finding the story that connects for that individual means listening, drawing connections and communicating effectively.
In other words, it takes a whole range of skills to succeed as an outreach and engagement coordinator.
“I think the most important thing an outreach and engagement coordinator can be is approachable,” explains Pamela.
“It’s important to be organized and on top of things, and it helps to be naturally extroverted but being inviting and open to other people is essential.”
Pamela is definitely approachable. Her friendly, warm demeanor makes it easier for her to forge strong relationships and help people build the connections they need. Plus, her natural propensity for talking to new people and engaging the public means, at the end of a long day of engagement, she still feels energized by her work. While some people are most comfortable at their desk, Pamela loves to be out in the community.
“It’s rewarding to listen and have a cup of coffee and hear people’s stories – it’s so much better than being in an office!”
Great to see there is an outreach and engagement coordinator. Would love to chat with her regarding reaching new people that move into the biosphere.
Hi Joan, thanks for your comments. We've asked Pamela to reach out directly to you.