While skimming the literature that lands in my inbox the other day, I came across an article about citizen science (CS) programs. This sentence stood out to me:
CS projects often have educational goals and aim to increase citizens’ knowledge with the ultimate goal of fostering positive attitudes toward science.
The same can be said for community programs led by organizations and professionals who have launched their own initiatives and apply their expertise in creative ways.
If you create and lead outdoor programming, what do you know about how your programs land with your audience?
When I launched The Freelance Condition and Lifelong Learning in Communities project, I asked professionals about the change they think they are making as informal educators. Survey respondents shared perspectives such as:
“I reach a population of learners that I did not have access to while in academia and I am more aware of what the real challenges of learning, accepting and embracing science as a part of daily life by interacting with the general public.”
“Making science more approachable, friendly.”
“Change is individual. All I can do is provide the information comprehensively, creatively, and intentionally. As a queer person of color, I believe representation matters so if I had to consider how my work is making the biggest impact, I would say that being visible and letting others like me know that these conversations ARE being had in our communities would be my greatest contribution.”
In reviewing the 43 written responses I received to this question, the following themes appear — connection, interactions, helping people, understanding.
Today I want to turn this question around.
Think about the experiences you’ve had at museums, zoos, gardens, aquariums, or other venues where you learned something about nature, the outdoors, the environment, or natural resources.
What experience have you had that changed your perspective about your relationship with the outdoors?
What was it about that experience that cleared the way for this change to happen?