As we progress into the 21st century, we face an onslaught of environmental challenges. Restoration, conservation, research, and more provide avenues to protect our natural world, but communication forms an equally critical pillar. Story-telling and narrative-sharing can provide inspiration for new ideas, new projects, and new initiatives. Without adequate communications, we are destined to reinvent the wheel.
My ecology work at Duke as part of my Master’s Degree in Environmental Management gave me a strong basis in science as I found myself drawn to place-based communications work. As a National Geographic Young Explorer, I visited the Maine North Woods in each of the four seasons, writing articles and blogs about the importance of protecting the land and sustainably managing its timber forests. Additionally, I signed up to visit all 174 Florida State Parks, all continental Long Term Ecological Research sites, and all National Estuarine Research Reserve sites. At each new location, I immersed myself not only in the science but the researchers who make it come alive, using personal stories and first-person narrative to connect complicated studies to readers of all backgrounds. Place becomes a vehicle for change.
The Certificate in Environmental Communications is a critical part of my career trajectory. For the first time, I am also in charge of an organization’s outreach strategy as the Communications and Marketing Coordinator for the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance in Northwest Florida. The certificate courses allow me to enhance my skill-set, think strategically, and liaise with other environmental communications professionals across the world. In addition, it has strengthened my resolve to use as many communication outlets as possible, including op-eds, blogs, articles, infographics, memes, and more. In fact, I’ve become so passionate about it that I co-founded a company dedicated to multi-media communication about science: TerraCommunications.org!
I’m only part-way through my Environmental Communications certificate, and can’t wait for the remaining courses!
Erika Zambello (MEM Class of 2015) is the co-founder of TerraCommunications.org, a communications company providing creative consulting services for scientists and environmental groups. She has worked as communications coordinator for a wide variety of education, government, and environmental non-profit organizations. She is pursuing the Duke Certificate in Environmental Communications in conjunction with her ongoing work in conservation and environmental communication.