Climbing Dawn Walls For Conservation Science

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The New Year is a time for thinking about “What do you want to do with your one wild and precious life?” (Mary Oliver). The first week of January, I spent a few days in Yosemite with my husband, environmental writer Ken Weiss, reflecting on our dreams and how to best spend our time in 2015.
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Dawn Wright: On Science Communication, Social Media, And Joining Our Board

Dawn Wright is a professor of Geography and Oceanography at Oregon State University, Esri's chief scientist, and COMPASS' newest board member.

This week, we welcome Dr. Dawn Wright to the COMPASS Board of Directors! Dawn’s day job (and she would probably tell you, her night and weekend job too) is the Chief Scientist at Esri. I love her story of why, after 17 years in academia, Dawn made the “escape”, as she says, to Esri. At its core, her story is really one of communication, leadership, exploration of the relevance of her science, and examination of her place in the scientific enterprise (all things we like helping scientists think about). Dawn is an amazing scientist, a generous human being, a committed communicator, a prolific tweeter and a hard-core cyclist. We couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome her to our board, so she can contribute to helping all of us at COMPASS support scientists in finding their own “so what”. [Read more…]

Seeking Conservation Scientists For The Wilburforce Fellowship

Fellows will hone  communication skills though hands-on activities like mock interviews with journalists.

Are you a conservation scientist working in Western North America who wants to hone your skills as a communicator?
Do you have ambitious conservation goals?
Do you want to expand your network to include journalists, policymakers and other players to achieve them?
Would you like ongoing coaching over the course of a year as well as support and inspiration from other scientists?

If this is you, we hope you’ll apply for the new Wilburforce Fellowship, which will provide in-depth COMPASS training for 20 conservation scientists from April 19 – 24, 2015 in Seattle.

The Wilburforce Foundation, in partnership with COMPASS, is offering this fellowship to help environmental scientists form a powerful community of leaders who can develop their skills, build their networks and achieve conservation solutions in the West. [Read more…]

Announcing The Wilburforce Fellowship In Conservation Science

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COMPASS and Wilburforce Foundation are excited to launch the Wilburforce Fellowship in Conservation Science. The fellowship aims to build a community of scientists who do decision-relevant research, communicate scientific findings effectively, and contribute to conservation solutions by engaging with local communities, policymakers, land managers, advocates, and others. It’s open to scientists of diverse affiliations and career stages working in conservation biology, ecology, environmental economics, or traditional ecological knowledge within Wilburforce’s priority geographic regions. Fellows will participate in a week of training in science communication, leadership and engagement at the Wilburforce Greenfire Campus in Seattle and receive coaching and support throughout the following year to assist them in achieving their goals.

We spoke with our Executive Director, Brooke Smith, and Wilburforce Program Officer for Conservation Science, Amanda Stanley, to learn more about the fellowship, the collaboration, and who should apply. [Read more…]

Finding My Fire On The Ice

The incredible setting for my pond hockey epiphanies -- the sun's afternoon glow on the Absorka Range.
(Photo courtesy of David Thomson)

Nestled in Montana’s Tom Miner Basin just outside of the Yellowstone Park boundary, the pond adjacent to my A-frame cabin beckoned. For weeks, I had been anticipating my ice hockey debut. The Sochi games had just ended. The wounds were still raw from the US women’s hockey team’s devastating loss to Canada for the gold. We had the numbers for a US – Canada rematch (even if it was co-ed). I was certain that somehow my days of playing field hockey and rugby had prepared me sufficiently to take back our country’s honor. Have I mentioned, though, that I can’t skate? [Read more…]

Building A Metro For Science Communication

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“Doors Closing. Please stand clear of the doors.” For anyone who lives, or has spent time in Washington, D.C., you recognize this as the announcement just before the Metro pulls away from the station. The Metro is one of the things I miss most about living in Washington, D.C. Even in a commuter-friendly place like Portland (which I now call home), the bike lanes and MAX simply can’t move as many people to as many destinations with the efficiency of the Metro. The Metro provides something critical to a buzzing, busy city – people-moving infrastructure. [Read more…]

Re-Energizing Your Work (And Your Life)

What will you risk – taking on or letting go of – to renew your energy?
Photo courtesy of of Antoine Gady via Flickr.

When Brooke first invited me to participate in TREC’s Senior Leadership Program, I responded with “Maybe … but I don’t think I can’t take the time. Three weeks in Montana over nine months is a lot, especially on top of the travel I already have lined up.” Fortunately, she persisted. Now, two sessions into the program, I can’t imagine what a mistake I almost made. I simply couldn’t have afforded not to make time for this. It’s been and will continue to be a transformative experience, both professionally and personally.

My life, like yours, has been running me ragged. I love my job. I love my family. I love my life. But, I am tired. I am overwhelmed. I am perpetually behind. And whether you’re leading a business, a non-profit, or a research group, I suspect you can relate. Our culture rewards busy-ness. To be overwhelmed is the norm. For scientists, juggling the competing demands of research, publishing, grant writing, teaching, mentoring, not to mention engaging outside of academia, is exhausting.

Can we move beyond inevitable exhaustion? I do my job because I love it. It feeds me, and I suspect (or at least I hope) this is also true for you. How can we find a way for our jobs to feed us without devouring us?   [Read more…]

True Leadership Takes Risking Being Yourself

Reflections of the Gallatin Mountains in the pond at the B-Bar Ranch, Emigrant, Montana. 

Photo courtesy of Amanda Hardy.

How do you gain leadership skills as a scientist? Although common elsewhere (particularly in the for-profit world), leadership training is almost non-existent for scientists. The Leopold Leadership Program and COMPASS trainings are notable exceptions. And unfortunately, like science communication, leadership skills are not part of graduate training (but perhaps they should be). Recently, I accepted a generous invitation to strengthen my leadership skills through TREC, courtesy of the Wilburforce Foundation. It was a transformative experience that has left me with new insights and much food for thought.

When it comes to leadership, many of us fall into the trap of trying to be like someone else. We ask ourselves, “How can I inspire like Jane Lubchenco or speak out like Stephen Schneider?” Pick your heroes. But the point is, these are the wrong questions. Being a leader isn’t about being like someone else. Instead, it’s about finding your own voice and being who you are. There’s no single way to be a leader. [Read more…]

The Top Ten Qualities Of Scientist (Communicator) Leaders

"Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects." Dalai Lama.
Photo courtesy of Mark J P via Flickr

Over the past few weeks, since we published “Navigating the Rules of Scientific Engagement” in PLOS, the voices of scientist communicators have rung out in blog posts – some personal perspectives and others calls to action. Even more chimed in on Twitter under the hashtag #reachingoutsci. These scientist bloggers are as diverse as their topics. I consider every one of them a leader.

Over the past 12 years as a communication trainer for the Leopold Leadership Program, and as a coach for many scientists, I have observed an intrinsic link between communication and leadership. [Read more…]

Meaningful Change Is Not For The Timid: A COMPASS Perspective On Jane Lubchenco

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This post was originally posted on 13 Dec., 2012.

COMPASS co-founder Jane Lubchenco announced this week that she will leave her position as administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at the end of February.  She will return to her home on the West Coast and resume her life in academia, and with her family.  She is the first woman and first marine ecologist to ever run the science-based agency dedicated to understanding changes in climate, weather, and the oceans, and sustaining coastal and marine resources. Her departure comes exactly four years after she received an unexpected telephone call from the White House asking her to join President Obama’s new team in Washington, D.C.  The call came while she was in Australia on a trip that combined intertidal research with a family holiday – not unusual for scientists who love their work. She flew to Chicago to meet with President-Elect Obama and accepted his invitation to be part of his ‘Science Team.’   With her family’s encouragement, she chose to take the leap — from scientist to policymaker.

I’ve known Jane Lubchenco since the early days of COMPASS in 2000 and witnessed her continuous evolution as a leader. Along the way, we’ve shared many a glass of wine and deep discussions.  In an email to me reflecting on her decision, she showed her true grit. “It is both thrilling and daunting. It’s also surreal right now,” she wrote. “But this seems like an unparalleled opportunity for science, for oceans, for climate. It’s not clear how much I can accomplish, but I am willing to try.” [Read more…]