February 9 marked the start of an entirely new kind of aquatic invasive species research in Wisconsin. Through a contract with the WDNR, the UW Survey Center conducted the first of five focus groups that will be held with transient boaters and anglers across the state.
At each of these focus groups, eight boaters sit down with UW Survey Center professional Ed Nelson and WDNR sociologist Jordan Petchenik (plus some cookies and soda) for a guided discussion. Over the course of two hours, the conversation touches on participants’ AIS knowledge and experience, opinions about media samples, and their actions and values when they’re out on the water.
“To date, all of our knowledge about how water users understand, view, and act on aquatic invasive species has come from survey questionnaires and the expertise of our local AIS staff on the water,” says AIS communications specialist Deborah Seiler. “While that information is very valuable, this is the first time we’ve had a chance to sit down with large numbers of water users and hear the long version of their stories in a guided research setting. We’re getting a snapshot of boaters across the state with much more detail than we’ve had before.”
Since different parts of the state have different issues with AIS, the fives groups have been recruited from Brown, Dane, La Crosse, Washburn and Waukesha counties and will be held on location. Participants are selected from a random sample of registered Wisconsin boaters and anglers and pass a series of screening questions, receiving $50 for their time upon completion.
Stay tuned as we post some of the most frequently asked questions and insights from Wisconsin’s boaters in the coming weeks!
(post and artwork by Deborah Seiler)