The Science Communication Challenge

Circle of Blue intern Connor Bebb explains his passion for sharing information about our most important shared resource — water.

Connor Bebb Circle of Blue intern science communication Northwestern Michigan College Traverse City NMC

Photo courtesy of Linda Bebb
Connor Bebb is a biology student at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City. This summer, he is working with Circle of Blue’s outreach team as an operations intern. Click image to enlarge.

I have always enjoyed flying and the rare opportunity it affords to see the world from a viewpoint that is not accessible in everyday life. A recent flight to New Mexico gave me the chance to view the barren, dry landscape of the American Southwest, seemingly void of all the telltale signs of human presence. Looking out the plane window, New Mexico’s mountainous and sweeping desert landscape seemed alien to me — a sharp contrast to the flatlands, farms, and forests that I am accustomed to in rural Northern Michigan. Suddenly, the plane veered sharply to the right and began its descent, and the sprawling city of Albuquerque appeared like a mirage out of the desert. My attention was immediately drawn to a river that ran straight through the city, a stark reminder that despite the radically different environments of the Southwest and the Midwest, water is a common need that binds all people.

I was born and raised in Northern Michigan, a region where an abundance of water, natural beauty, and outdoor recreation supports a thriving tourism industry. As my appreciation for the area grew, so did my desire to protect the places that I loved. My homeschool education created the ideal springboard to launch my understanding of the sciences, and at an early age, I focused intensely on the inner workings of the many forests and water ecosystems that surround my hometown of Traverse City. Even as I grew older, my interest in science remained one of the few constants in my life.

During my first semester of high school, I found my second love: communications. I was chosen to work with National Geographic to help design and create a high school science curriculum and video content. Whether talking on social media or filming video footage, I learned that my personal love of science was something worth sharing — moreover, it needed to be shared to help form a discussion about the advancements and changes taking place in the field of science. My time with National Geographic, and my subsequent work with organizations such as the National Wildlife Federation, revealed that my growing interest in journalism and multimedia was the most effective way to share my passion.

That is why I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Circle of Blue this summer as an operations intern. A large portion of my work involves researching national and international organizations that might be interested in Circle of Blue’s work, a critical part of our outreach efforts. Through this work, I hope to better inform the public about water issues around the world. With accurate and scientifically based information at their fingertips, my hope is that communities can move beyond a common dependency on resources like water and address the problems surrounding these resources in a more meaningful way.

Do you think science communication is important? Why? How do you think science news organizations can better serve the public? I would love to hear your ideas. Please comment below, send me an email at cjintc@charter.net, or tweet @ConnorBebb.

–Connor Bebb, Circle of Blue Intern

Circle of Blue provides relevant, reliable, and actionable on-the-ground information about the world’s resource crises.

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