The Importance of Building Relationships and Embracing Public Participation

When:  Mar 27, 2024 from 13:00 to 14:15 (MT)

For decades, skills such as empathy, team building and even leadership have been deemed "soft skills" and framed as less valuable than technical skills. Research and empirical evidence now shows that these skills are more critical to effectively working with others whether within your organization or with partners, stakeholders, and users. This session introduces two recently released products of the Interagency Visitor Use Management Council focused on the critical task of developing desired conditions for the planning and management of public lands and waters in the United States. The first product is the guidebook for developing desired conditions, and the second product is a supporting paper that takes a deep-dive into the topic of public participation and how it intersects with desired conditions development. This webinar will explore the foundations for the concept of ‘desired conditions’, including why they are needed, what they are, and how they can be developed in various social and ecological contexts. Further, we will explore fundamental principles of public participation, discuss different types of public participation, and provide ideas for what should be considered as practitioners approach the task of developing desired conditions with the help of the public. While this webinar is focused on the tangible and discrete outcomes of desired condition statements, we discuss how such outcomes are reliant and facilitated by good processes that promote relationship building such as promising influence, honoring diverse voices, committing to accessibility, and showing humility.   

Learning Objectives:

  • Define soft skills and why they are critical for outdoor recreation professionals.

  • Understand the general need, definition, and process for developing desired conditions.

  • Recognize the complexity of developing desired conditions within varied social and ecological contexts.

  • Understand the gamut of considerations for preparing, launching, and executing a public participation campaign for desired condition development.


  • Aleks Pitt, National Park Service Midwest Region Planning Portfolio Manager

  • Dr. Chris Armatas, USFS Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute

  • Dr. Lee Cerveny, USFS Pacific Northwest Research Station

  • Maureen Finnerty, National Park Service Visitor Use Management Project Manager
  • Sam Rider, USFS National Recreation Planner
  • Andrew White, National Park Service Visitor Use Management Specialist
  • Kimberly Leitzinger, BLM Outdoor Recreation Specialist 

SORP is excited to partner with American Trails and offer free learning credits to attendees. American Trails is a certified provider and can offer the following learning credits and continuing education opportunities: AICP CM, LA CES, NRPA CEU Equivalency Petition, and CEU/PDH Equivalency Petition for other accepting organizations.

If you need any accommodations for SORP programs, please contact us.

Event Image


Rachel Franchina


Online Instructions: