Kent M Kowalski; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service;;

Establishing and sustaining an environmental education program is a high priority as described in the Mojave Desert Tortoise Recovery Plan. The goal of the education program is to build public support for, and involvement in, desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) recovery. The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) organized and hosted a public outreach campaign to inform the public about desert tortoise conservation issues, change learned behavior, and encourage responsibility for public actions that affect the species. The campaign called ‘Desert Tortoise Week 2022’ occurred within the first week of October. The Service encouraged conservation partners to develop and host educational events, also advertised on social media, to promote conservation and recovery actions for desert tortoises. Conservation partners hosted a series of desert tortoise talks, guided tours, and presentations. The Service also developed social media presence that challenged the public to engage in desert tortoise awareness events by posting photos of desert tortoise habitat during recreational activities. Conservation partners also developed educational virtual lesson plans, hosted webinars, recruited volunteers to remove invasive plants, and established scavenger hunts for the public to enjoy and learn more about the species. Overall, Desert Tortoise Week 2022 was a successful education recovery action.

Challenges and Opportunities I: Species Recovery  InPerson Presentation