Keys to Community Buy-in for the Environment

Community engagement is an important part of life as a local elected official: Public opinion and engagement play a large role in what you do. This module will show you how to build support on environmental issues, spur behavior change and get the most out of your efforts to engage your community.

Read the video transcript

In this topic you will learn

  1. What are the benefits of community engagement?

  2. How can I maximize the impact of my engagement efforts?

  3. How do I build support for clean water work?



Community engagement and volunteer training efforts can teach constituents of all ages about environmental issues, and can encourage them to change behavior and be better environmental stewards.

A textbook, indicating education.

Economic Development

Local governments in the U.S. spent $146.6 billion on protecting the environment in 2020. More community involvement means more pooled resources from volunteers and community partners. These partners can mobilize their own networks, expanding your reach, capacity and access to equipment. Community engagement helps you make connections, identify shared needs and plan strategically to be as efficient as possible.

A dollar sign, indicating economic development.

Public Health and Safety

Hearing from your community can raise previously unknown issues of public health and safety. Education campaigns about topics like litter can also help your community better understand health and safety risks, and motivate them to change behavior.

A heart and a plus sign, indicating public health and safety.

Infrastructure Maintenance and Finance

Involving your community can help you come up with innovative, publicly supported ideas for funding and maintaining your community’s infrastructure.

A house, indicating infrastructure.

Case Studies You'll Find Inside

Finger Lakes

Finger Lakes, New York

Building Capacity for Environmental Protection

The Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management, or PRISM, includes government, academic and nonprofit collaborators. The partnership recruits and trains volunteers to monitor, report and remove invasive species that can damage crops and forests, block stormwater drainage, and decrease recreational value and quality of life in the community. Volunteers reduce the amount of time and energy local government staff must spend tackling invasive species.

An asphalt road winds through a vineyard toward Lake Seneca in Hector, New York. (Envato Elements)

Here's How You Can Help

An icon of three people, two blue and one green. Build authentic community connections.
An icon of two people sitting at a table, talking. One has a heart in their speech bubble, and one has lines indicating text. Provide a neutral space to interact with community members.
An icon of a green thumbs up and a blue thumbs down, indicating different perspectives. Engage different perspectives in discussing challenges and opportunities.

Learn More About This Topic


Apply the results of the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Stewardship Index Survey to your own efforts to increase the number of residents taking on-the-ground actions to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay.


Find information about more than 600 organizations actively working to restore and conserve natural resources and create sustainable communities across the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

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