This month, I am pleased to announce my first, first author publication in Science Scope. This article uses AZA accredited zoos and aquariums to teach about ecosystems and sustainability for middle school students. You can find the article here.
When I saw that Science Scope was having a special issue on informal science, I knew I wanted to contribute an article. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about so I brainstormed some ideas with my advisor. I knew I wanted to write something to help teachers and students understand the importance of zoos and aquariums as conservation and education facilities. Thankfully, AZA’s Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE) program was the perfect vehicle to do so.
AZA SAFE is a collaboration between zoos, aquariums, their researchers, and their visitors. The goal is to leverage zoo and aquarium resources with that of the public in order to help protect endangered species. The program began with ten signature species but has recently added several more to the campaign. SAFE is hoping to engage their visitors by more openly publicizing the conservation work they are already doing. The fact that many of the signature species are charismatic megafauna (really cute) doesn’t hurt either.
Collaboration in Publication
During the process of writing this article, I had the opportunity to collaborate with some great colleagues. One is my current advisor and the other was my undergraduate advisor. Between the three of us, we had a wide variety of experience and expertise. It allowed us to create a better publication than I would have been able to do on my own. It was a great experience learning how to collaborate with colleagues across the state.
Writing for Practitioners
It was also a great opportunity to practice writing for practitioners rather than solely for academics. I believe it is important to write for both groups in order to help get our research and best practices into the field. Also, as this is a topic I am very passionate about, I was a little nervous about the reaction from the readers. As a former aquarium educator, I strongly believe in the importance of zoos and aquariums as educational facilities. However, I know not every school has access to accredited zoos and aquariums so I made sure to include digital alternatives that would still allow students to engage with them. Thankfully, the response from both practitioners and academics has been positive.
Have you written publications for practitioners? What tips do you have for creating a great article to put research into practice? Share in the comments below!
Until next time,