This week I sent an email. Well, to be fair, I send a lot of emails, but I wanted to share one in particular that I sent to Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science in Canada. I follow Minister Duncan on Twitter and the other day I saw she was speaking at the University of Saskatchewan, I've seen her travel and give talks all across Canada. Obviously someone as well known as Minister Duncan can approach any school in the country and speak with students. However other less well known individuals may be respected experts in their given field, and they may not be able to come to classrooms with the same ease.
Conference2Classroom provides a pathway between experts, like Minister Duncan, attending conferences across Canada to connect with local classrooms. I know a lot of people are interested to participate in outreach or engagement activities, but don't know how. And what might seem like little challenge is not really that little, not knowing where to start is a major deterrent from starting anything. I have invited Minister Duncan to participate in an activity with Conference2Classroom to highlight our initiative, to bring it to a wider audience, so that other respected but less well known individuals have a chance to connect with classrooms, share their knowledge, and inspire the next generation.
I look forward to hearing from Minister Duncan.
This is the email I sent.
To the Hon Kirsty Duncan,
My name is Rachel Kuzmich and I am a PhD student at Queen's University in the Department of Geography and Planning. My undergraduate was completed at Trent University and I received a Hons BSc in Geography and Biology, with a minor in International Development Studies. My current research allows me to draw from this diverse academic background and I am looking at bird habitat for species of conservation interest using airborne laser scanning data.
Recently I founded Conference2Classroom, a scicomm outreach organization that creates a pathway between experts and researchers attending conferences across Canada with local classrooms in the host community. I was inspired to start this initiative for two reasons. First, as a graduate student I am fortunate to attend and participate in some conferences. In November 2018 I attended two conferences: ForestSAT hosted at the University of Maryland and the Canadian Association of Geographers Ontario Division conference hosted at the University of Toronto. Both conferences provided me amazing opportunities to share my work so far and learn from others in my field, and yet I perceived a missed opportunity at both conferences to engage with the local community. Second, I am particularly interested in engaging with students because I have ended up doing work that I had no idea even existed when I was growing up. I am from a very blue collar town and family and the realm of possibilities that I had in my mind of what I could be when I grew was shaped by that environment. The goal of Conference2Classroom is to provide the opportunity to share their work and inspire the future generation. And I think this is an important task.
I wanted to share this with you, as Minister of Science, I know that you do a lot of science outreach, communication and engagement activities. In fact, the impetus to write this email today comes from seeing on Twitter yesterday that you were participating in the Women in Science Speaker Series at the University of Saskatchewan. While I recognize that someone in your position doesn't really need any assistance in connecting with local classrooms, but I wanted to invite you to register with us nonetheless because other people may not have the same ease or resources in making that connection. By participating with Conference2Classroom you would be leading by example and highlighting the service we provide. It is my hope that your participation will inspire other experts and researchers attending conferences to register with us, and together we can facilitate further outreach activities and the knowledge transfer between this generation and the next.
You can get more information and register to participate here. And if you have any questions or would like to speak more about Conference2Classroom or science outreach and communication in Canada more generally, please feel free to contact me at any time.