LTER Science Communication a popular topic at the 2012 LTER ASM

Network News Fall 2012, Vol. 25 No. 3
ASM Reports

The 2012 LTER All Scientists Meeting (ASM) featured many of the things that we have come to expect every three years: A lovely setting at the YMCA of the Rockies, thought-provoking plenary speakers, and hundreds of posters illustrating the best of LTER research. However, during two working groups and two meetings this year, ASM participants discussed a topic seldom considered at previous ASMs--LTER science communication.One working group, organized by Susan Dailey, Chris Neil, and Marcia Nation, focused on reaching policymakers through science communication and working with the media to communicate LTER science. Three professional science communicators, Susan Moran (a freelance science journalist), Kathy Fallon Lambert (Science and Policy Integration Project Director at Harvard Forest), and Cheryl Dybas (Senior Science Information Officer for Environmental Research at the National Science Foundation), presented information on various aspects of science and policy communication to a group of around 50 ASM participants, 80 percent of whom were early career scientists. They then worked with small groups to brainstorm story ideas and how to pitch them to news media.  Participants left the two-part workshop with a better understanding of how to get LTER science stories into the local and national press.

Another working group, organized by Julie Doll and Michael Nelson (see associated story in this issue), focused on climate change communication. During this interactive session, participants discussed the challenges of communicating this critical, yet sometimes controversial, topic to stakeholder groups.

Another pair of communication-related activities during the ASM included the LTER Communication Committee, which met over lunch to discuss work on the communication objectives in the Strategic Implementation Plan; and a meeting for site science communicators [see separate story]. Site science communicators are individuals at LTER sites who have responsibility for some or all aspects of site communication, whether that be writing content for the website, managing social media, communicating with stakeholders, or writing press releases. Around 10 sites sent their science communicators to this meeting. One outcome of this meeting was a proposal to the LTER Network Office  for funding to support a training workshop for site science communicators in spring or summer 2013.

By Marcia Nation (CAP)