The Coastal Training Program (CTP) is largely driven by the information needs of decision-makers in the coastal management community of the region. These needs are continually assessed through formal and informal needs assessments and ongoing contact with audiences to ensure that the program remains responsive. Needs assessments are conducted using interviews, focus groups and surveys. Program planning draws upon information collected through these various efforts.
Activities are centered on several key coastal issues which have been identified from formal and non-formal audience surveys. These issues also reflect the management priorities of the Reserve and include: water quality, habitat protection and restoration, shoreline dynamics and climate change. In addition to addressing priority topics ascertained from audience assessments, the program is also proactive in translating science about emerging coastal issues of regional significance.
The program also endeavors to organize learning experiences focused on honing process-based skills. These skills are often under-emphasized yet are critical to achieving progress in coastal management. Examples of process skills include negotiating for coastal resources, conflict resolution, meeting facilitation, involving the community in planning, and inter-board coordination and communication. Bringing scientific content topics together with process-based topics enables decision-makers to be better equipped to work collaboratively to develop comprehensive solutions to local coastal problems.
The CTP is tailored to serve the following audiences: municipal and county officials, municipal employees, state and local coastal managers, including coastal parks and open space managers, conservation commissions, planners, land managers, members of local boards and committees (planning, health, zoning etc), environmental organizations, and business persons such as developers and builders.
The CTP strives to deliver training of the highest quality that is relevant and current. Training is creatively designed and delivered through a variety of mechanisms including workshops, seminars, and field activities and is driven by and responsive to audience needs. The delivery method of choice depends on the topic, audience and geographic location. Instructors and presenters include experts who are carefully selected from national, regional and local entities. Effort is made to structure training events in ways that encourage information exchange and networking among participants as one means of sparking and stimulating communication and collaboration among different groups.
CTP also offers limited training-related technical assistance to audiences based on program resources available. Because CTP is networked nationally, the program also helps coastal decision-makers access technical assistance available from other organizations.
Performance monitoring and evaluation are core areas that are built into the CTP in order to assess the impact of trainings and to incorporate audience feedback into training design. Every few years the CTP updates its strategic plan and takes a fresh look at the priority issues and audiences being addressed to ensure that the program is targeting critical needs and meeting set goals.