In the Spotlight: Divina Lade

Divina Lade at Mantalip ReefCatch of the day: a Filipina woman shows off a fish caught by small-scale fishers in Siquijor province, Philippines. (Rebecca Weeks/Marine Photobank.) Small-scale fishers on the coral reef surrounding Siquijor island, Philippines. (Rebecca Weeks/Marine Photobank)Siete Pecados Marine Park, Coron, Palawan, Philippines (Jim Geral Pe/Marine Photobank)Mollusc gatherer, S Leyte Philippines. (Howard Peters 2008/Marine Photobank)Local school children take an interest in reef ecology with instruction from NGO: Coral Cay Conservation (Howard Peters 2008/Marine Photobank.)

As a Program Manager at Rare, my mission is to coach and mentor our site partners as they design, plan, and implement coastal and fisheries-related behavior change campaigns in the Philippines. I manage four sites where we run campaigns to encourage fishermen and women to report fish catches, participate in fisheries related meetings, follow marine protected area rules, and follow fisheries registration codes. I completed my undergraduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology, and had very little training in how to use social marketing concepts to influence behavior change. To equip myself with the skills and knowledge necessary to coach, mentor, and support to our partners, I sought out training opportunities in environmental communications.

In 2016, I enrolled in the Nicholas School’s online Certificate in Environmental Communications. I must say I did enjoy every course I took – Environmental Communications Planning with Dr. Vidra, Social Media with Dr. Thaler, and Social Marketing and Environmental Communications for Behavior Change with Brian Day. Completing these four courses revalidated my belief that it really takes behavior change to address specific coastal and fisheries problem. I appreciate the lessons I gleaned from this program. I am more and more confident and eager to share new things I learned from each courses to our partners and colleagues.

One of the lessons that I would like to highlight here is about positioning a communications campaign. Instructor Brian Day pointed out that a critical step in constructing relevant and powerful environmental messages is first to understand what resonates with your target audience. His behavior change course helped me to identify research techniques (qualitative, quantitative, or a mix of both) that will help a social marketer to position his/her campaign for success.

Back at work in the Philippines, I am now aware that a well-crafted campaign strategy and a communications plan (coupled with adaptive management), ensures that our messaging ultimately relates back to our original strategic goal and resonates with our target audience.  I now ask our Conservation Fellows to refer to the available research data and trust their gut on what else they know about the target audience.  What matters in the design and messages is how it connects and resonates with the stakeholders.

I would like to thank the Duke instructors who impart their expertise. I truly appreciate their openness and for sharing valuable information about what they know on specific topics in environmental communication. I am also thankful for Rare’s Educational Assistance Program and the Nicholas School’s CATES Program for financial assistance. All of these led to completing my Certificate in Environmental Communications program. I enjoyed the Duke courses so much and this made me seriously think of pursuing a Master’s degree in environmental management in Duke. I should start applying to feasible scholarships soon!

Divina Lade is a Program Manager with Rare Philippines. For the past 5 years, she has focused on coastal and fisheries issues.