Social networking a void between older leaders, younger rank and file in volunteeer groups

Lew Evans, left, president of Grand Valley Anglers Chapter of Trout Unlimited and Federation of Fly Fishers, watches a fly-casting lesson at Grand Junction High School. It’s one of the volunteer activities the chapter conducts during the year.

Mention Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, MouthShut or any of the hundreds of social media sites to aging birders, anglers and hunters, and you might get a blank look.

For some, communication has become something they don’t recognize.

“There’s definitely been a cultural shift,” said Lew Evans, president of Grand Valley Anglers. “I look at my two sons (ages 21 and 19). They don’t really communicate other than text each other.”

Karen Levad feels the same angst.

“The 20-, 30-, 40-year olds, we are a bit mystified how to connect with them,” said Levad, outgoing president of the Grand Valley Audubon Society.

Neither the Audubon Society’s website nor the Trout Unlimited website lists Facebook or Twitter, two popular social media.

The immediacy of these and other digital social media has changed how people and groups communicate.

“Fifteen years ago you didn’t have email, and when that came along, it changed how people communicate,” said Eric Frankowski of Resource Media in Boulder. “Social media is the latest evolution of communication.”

Resource Media’s services include media training, developing communication strategies and understanding new communication trends.

Using Facebook, Twitter or other social media is a “key way to build a network in the community you’re working with,” Frankowski said.

For example, one person might post something on Twitter, and within seconds a hundred people are reading that post. And it’s a way to reach people who might not be members of your group but are interested in certain issues.

Last year, Twitter posts carried instantaneous updates from the Four Mile Canyon fire near Boulder.

As soon as it was known the local 911 callback system was not reaching potential fire victims, Twitter became the fastest way to reach people in the evacuation area.

“If it’s Trout Unlimited, it doesn’t have to be about where the fishing is best,” Frankowksi said. “TU is all about water quality, and if a well is going to be drilled next to a stream, everyone is concerned about water quality and what’s happening to their water sources.”

A nonprofit group’s reach may be unlimited, he said.

“The potential is just huge,” Frankowski said. “Any group not using these information-sharing media are going to find themselves falling farther and farther behind.”


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