“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.”—Thomas Huxley
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.
The Foundation contributes to its outreach goals through the science communication efforts of its Executive Director David Steen, who has been called The Best Biologist on Twitter, a genius of hashtag herpetology, and a Twitter sensation. He writes,
- 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 Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to pass on wildlife-related news, answer wildlife questions, and introduce people to a wildlife scientist; I am now followed by nearly 26,000 people. I also make myself available to the media and appear frequently in interviews, podcasts, and videos to help communicate science to the general public.
- 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 six million times overall. You can visit the Facebook page associated with the blog here.
- My writing about wildlife ecology and conservation also appears in other online outlets, like Slate, Motherboard, Earth Touch, and Live Science and my book, Secrets of Snakes and the Science of Their Myths (Texas A&M Press) is in development.
The Alongside Wildlife Foundation is 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. We also supported the creation of a comic by Rosemary Mosco of Bird and Moon Comics to illustrate the many myths and misunderstandings surrounding Cottonmouths and another to help people figure out what to do if they find a turtle on the road.
Finally, we work closely with Blue Aster Studio on a variety of projects, including graphics to accompany conversations with the general public about the snakes around them. You can purchase merchandise based on these graphics here.