Tools for Engaging Landowners Effectively (TELE) was started in 2008 as a collaboration of the Sustaining Family Forests Initiative, the Center for Nonprofit Strategies, and the Family Forest Research Center. It was initially housed at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and then at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. 

The TELE program developed out of the need to translate landowner research, especially data from the National Woodland Owner Survey, into a practical methodology for designing landowner outreach programs. After validating its data and methodology via a 6-state pilot project (Call Before You Cut), TELE developed an effective capacity-building program to support public and private sector organizations to achieve their land management and conservation goals.

TELE applies targeted marketing principles to the challenge of promoting good stewardship on private lands. Rather than using a broad-brush approach that tries to appeal to everyone, TELE practitioners design outreach programs to bring about a specific behavior change in a selected group of people. They use their audience’s preferred channels to reach them and deliver programs and messages that are most likely to appeal to audience members, based on their specific values, preferences, and other characteristics. This approach has been shown to be an effective and efficient way to change behaviors and norms in a variety of fields. A user survey conducted in 2019 showed that, on average, TELE projects engage 25 percent of targeted landowners to take action, a much higher proportion than most other landowner outreach efforts.

As of 2020, TELE had hosted more than 50 workshops in more than 30 states. Nearly 1,400 natural resource professionals have attended TELE workshops and nearly sixty professionals have taken advanced TELE training to become TELE leaders and ambassadors in their states. We are no longer able to offer TELE workshops, but you’ll find a wealth of TELE resources and learnings in the materials offered on this website.


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