Collaboration may be key to understanding and managing coastal and estuarine environments, but no one ever said it would be easy. Reserve-based projects routinely involve a mix of scientists from different disciplines, public officials and agencies, partners from nongovernmental organizations, educators, students, and citizens. Bringing such diverse partners and stakeholders together for a common purpose can be challenging, time consuming, and resource intensive.
This toolkit was created to help. It is designed to support large teams working on complex natural resource problems that can only be addressed by working across disciplinary, organizational, and cultural boundaries. It includes best practices, case studies, templates, and other resources to improve project design and management, engage diverse stakeholders, and enhance communication among all involved. While it is more appropriate for projects that take place over the course of a few years, it includes information that will be relevant for a range of scenarios. It is also a resource for funders interested in supporting successful, collaborative projects to address complex problems.
The content and design of this toolkit is based on the cumulative experience of grant-funded research projects from across the National Estuarine Research Reserve System from 2009 to the present. These projects involved hundreds of partners from the public and private sectors, including academic experts from the fields of collaborative science, seasoned educators, and outreach and training veterans. Learn more about how this toolkit came together.