5th UF Water Institute Symposium Abstract

Submitter's Name Melissa Taylor
Session Name Achieving Behavior Change: Public perceptions and awareness of water conservation issues - 1
Author(s) Melissa Lamm,  University of Florida (Presenting Author)
  Alexa Lamm,  University of Florida
  Identifying Water Issues Opinion Leader Needs to Encourage Widespread Adoption of Best Management Practices
  Opinion leaders are persuasive in convincing others within their social networks to adopt certain opinions and behaviors. By identifying and using opinion leaders, extension educators may be able to leverage individuals who have influence on others’ opinions, thereby speeding up the adoption of new practices. The purpose of this research was to identify water issue opinion leaders and understand their current water conservation practices. Additionally, by using the theoretical framework of the diffusion of innovations, we explored what subject matter areas water issue opinion leaders are most interested in, and where they go for more information. These findings were used to identify how extension educators can reach opinion leaders to help disseminate important water conservation information. The findings indicated opinion leaders have a good grasp on how to conserve water, but are still misusing water in terms of protecting its quality. Based on these findings it is suggested that extension educators develop educational programming focused on improving opinion leaders’ knowledge of water pollution; a connection needs to be made between water quality and the environment.