“To a person uninstructed in natural history, his country- or sea-side stroll is a walk through a gallery with wonderful works of art, nine-tenths of which have their faces turned to the wall.”
It is impossible to appreciate our natural landscapes without an understanding of natural history. In addition, applied conservation research is of little use without a galvanized public interested in incorporating findings into management and policy.
- My primary outreach contribution is my award-winning science blog, where I write about natural history, ecology, and research; my blog gets over 3,000 views each day and has been viewed over 4.5 million times overall. You can visit the Facebook page associated with the blog here.
- A recent survey suggested 83% of Americans could not name a living scientist (those that could typically named Stephen Hawking) and do not know what a scientist does. I joined Twitter to pass on wildlife-related news, to answer wildlife questions, and introduce people to a wildlife scientist; I am now followed by over 16,000 people. I was named one of the 64 conservationists you should be following on Twitter and was the subject of this article, The Best Biologist on Twitter.
- I make myself available to the media and appear frequently in interviews, podcasts, and videos; this is important to me not only because it helps communicate science to the general public but also because it boosts scientific impact.
- My writing about wildlife ecology and conservation also appears in venues like Slate.
- Why don’t people eat turtle soup anymore? Slate January 2016.
- Why I gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a turtle. Slate September 2014.
- Which exotic species are really scary? Slate January 2014.
I am always looking to form new collaborations to communicate science in novel ways. For example, check out this post on Buzz Hoot Roar communicating the ecosystem services provided by snakes, artwork by Brooke Hatfield. I have also worked with Blue Aster Studio to produce graphics to accompany my interactions with the general public, particularly identification requests. You can purchase merchandise based on these graphics here.
I am interested in producing educational materials to help others appreciate their local natural history and resolve backyard conflicts with wildlife. For example, over 50,000 copies of my brochure on minimizing conflict with venomous snakes have been distributed throughout the southeastern United States and I helped produce these amphibian and reptile checklists of Alabama National Forests that were published by the Forest Service.