At the end of September, I was fortunate enough to spend a week at the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab in Gothic, CO, attending the Organization of Biological Field Stations (OBFS) Annual Meeting. OBFS is a network that supports over 300 field stations around the world with the mission “to help member stations increase their effectiveness in supporting critical research, education, and outreach programs. We pursue this goal in a manner that maximizes diversity, inclusiveness, sustainability, and transparency.” Individuals are able to trouble shoot and problem solve by accessing the wealth of knowledge contained in this network and the annual meeting provides the opportunity for face-to-face interactions, which leads to collaborations and partnerships. I traveled to the meeting with Laura Sewall, Director of the Bates Morse Mountain Conservation Area and Coastal Center at Shortridge, and my co-PI on the NSF Field Station and Marine Laboratory planning grant. We used the meeting as a venue to gather ideas and make connections to further formalize the network of Gulf of Maine field stations, marine labs, and larger research institutions.
I attended a session on how to develop programs with community colleges to increase field science opportunities to those who may not otherwise have access - Hurricane would be a great venue! Other sessions offered ideas on fundraising events and efforts to supplement operating revenue to keep a field station financially viable over time and establishing and maintaining long-term monitoring projects with the aim of providing services to surrounding communities and the broader scientific community.
Miles O’Brien, a freelance journalist and science correspondent for the PBS News Hour, and Mark Ruffalo, an actor and environmental activist who started Water Defense, connected to the meeting through Skype to speak to the entire group. They spoke about their experiences communicating science to the public and the dire need for increasing science literacy. They emphasized the importance of field stations as providing access to nature and in understanding our world through the scientific process.
Overall, it was an incredible week in a beautiful place and I am reenergized to continue the work to create field science opportunities for middle and high school students through career scientists on Hurricane Island.