Data-driven Concept


Visitor type differs

Different visitor types rated different aspects of the shorebird and crab protection program differently. Stewards and education efforts should directly address each type.

Gender differences

Women often spoke more to stewards and rated them more highly, suggesting that added attention should be devoted to addressing the specific interests of male visitors, and in education materials that they relate to, including fishing.

Age-related differences

The rating assessing steward’s knowledge increased with age of the person being interviewed. This suggests that young people find information from other sources, like online descriptions. Developing a phone app devoted to Delaware Bay shorebird conservation or adding information to project partner’s websites would help stewards reach most people, including younger age classes.

Conviction that they do not disturb birds

This is a common issue—People see that they have little effect, while not considering the collective impact of many people’s minor disturbances. An easily understood info-graphic along with information on the known impact of disturbance to shorebirds (reduced time spent feeding etc.) would help stewards address this important point.

Higher ratings for shorebird conservation/research than for crabs

The connection between crabs and shorebirds, although seemingly clear to stewards and others, is not always clear to the public. Stewards should be encouraged to discuss the critical nature of crab eggs and their role in shorebird survival and reproduction. They should be supported with easily understood graphics in a concise brochure


steward education

Some interviewees mentioned that when they visited different beaches, the stewards had different levels of education. This suggests a strong need for a more robust pre-season education session(s) and training so that stewards are empowered to be the local experts (not just police). Training for new volunteers could be helped with mentoring from existing stewards.

Inadequate steward props and materials

Stewards should all be equipped with identification tags, chairs, umbrellas, sign boards, printed materials, and a smile. The stewardship program should be adequately funded so that stewards have pride in their ability to explain the crab/shorebird interaction and the bay ecosystem

Steward group sessions on information and best practices

Having a session or two during the shorebird migration period where stewards can share information and best practices could improve moral and information (could be done by zoom).

Local information

Many people who are first time visitors to Delaware Bay do not know where to park, whether they can touch crabs in the locations where people are allowed, where they can get coffee, food or a bathroom. It would be easy for the stewards to be provided with a one-page information sheet on some logistical information.