Cornell University Ithaca, New York, United States
Background/Question/Methods As a graduate student, engaging in things outside of your scientific community can sometimes feel like a giant leap. After being a part of the Young Voices of Science program through the Hubbard Brook Research Foundation in the fall of 2020, I was invited to participate in the Climate and Clean Energy Youth Forum in the spring of 2021 and given the opportunity to ask members of the Biden Administration Clean Energy/Climate Action Priorities team one question. This was my chance to make one little leap. A training from Dr. Chanel Matney taught us how to engage with policymakers and more importantly, how to use the art of storytelling to leave a lasting impression. Dr. Matney told us that facts alone are not enough for effective advocacy. Stories are the far more powerful tool to leave an impression and potentially influence real change.
Results/Conclusions Dr. Matney’s training gave me the permission to step outside of my usual academic confines, and with my policy question, I delivered a story about where I came from and why that particular topic was so important to me. I was interested in how and if they planned to protect or create green spaces, particularly in low income and urban communities, not only because of their potential importance for minimizing climate change effects but also because of their benefits for local communities. Deputy Director for Energy Justice, Shalanda Baker, agreed with the importance of my question and topic, and shared an example where that exact thinking could have been applied. That day with those policy makers, I was able to leave a strong impression. The true change though has come in how that training has influenced my own work and teachings; everyone has powerful stories to share, including scientists.