Keys to Building Community Buy-In for the Environment: Local Government Guide to the Chesapeake Bay

[Opening shot of people hiking through the woods.]

You already understand that community engagement is important as an elected official.

[Shot of someone carrying two tires to a dumpster as part of a volunteer clean-up event.]

Public opinion and participation plays a large role in what you do.

[Shot of a woman in a classroom raising her hand.]

But how do you build support for necessary clean water investments, spur behavior change, and get the most out of your efforts?

[Shot of a slow-moving stream whose bank is lined with trees and shrubs; shot of a woman driving a stake into the ground to support a newly planted tree.]

Engaging your community takes work, but it is worth your time and effort.

[Shot of a group of people sitting together, with one person speaking and one person taking notes. When the speaker finishes talking, the group claps.]

Local governments in the US spent $146.6 billion on protecting the environment in 2020 through efforts like picking up trash and planting trees.

[Shot of newly planted trees waving in the wind.]

More community involvement means more pooled resources from volunteers and community partners.

[Shot of a group of volunteers picking up litter.]

Good communication and community engagement increases trust in local government.

[Shot of vegetables being sold at a farmer’s market; shot of two people in suits shaking hands while people in the background clap.]

Engaging with your community begins with understanding the people that comprise it.

[Shot of a waterfront city with a busy highway, large marina and ship.]

Environmental issues are far from the daily concerns of your average constituent.

[Shot of someone pushing a wheelbarrow through a farm field.]

How do you communicate why your community needs to do things like manage stormwater?

[Shot of a man delivering a speech at a podium as cameras flash.]

Properly managing stormwater prevents flooding and erosion, which can cause costly property damage in your community.

[Shot of flood waters sweeping debris downstream.]

Properly managing stormwater means less well contamination, fewer mosquitoes and the diseases that they carry, and less pollution to our local waterways.

[Shot of a clear stream.]

Trees and cleaner water increase recreational opportunities like:

[Aerial shot of a river winding around a forested area and toward the Chesapeake Bay.]

bird watching

[Shot of a woman looking through binoculars, bird watching.]


[Shot of a male white-tailed deer with large antlers, camouflaged among trees and shrubs.]


[Underwater shot of fish swimming in murky waters.]

boating and fishing

[Shot of someone paddling a canoe.]

Our communities are diverse in experiences and opinions – this can sometimes lead to conflict.

[Shot of a child moving their hand across a tree trunk.]

Having guidelines and examples to follow will make the engagement process easier. Some suggestions are:

[Shot of someone rolling a tire along a path as part of a volunteer clean-up event.]

Understanding the needs of your community members.

[Shot of a family riding bikes in a suburban neighborhood.]

Build relationships.

[Shot of children planting shrubs.]

Consider diversity and how to be more inclusive

[Shot of plants waiting to be planted.]

Plan accordingly.

[Shot of a bee pollinating the flower of a redbud tree.]

Reflect and learn.

[Shot of a man screwing a plastic cap onto a water sample.]

It is a worthwhile investment to engage with your community on local environmental issues.

[Shot of a man and child working in a vegetable garden.]

[Black screen.]

Learn more about how you can work to engage with your community to build support on issues that matter. Visit to learn more.