The Future is Waiting, Just Around the Riverbend

 Dec 13, 2018    by The Editorial Board [Michelle Staudinger, Adrienne Wootten, Meaghan Guckian, Ezra Markowitz, Clay Tucker, Elsita Kiekebusch, Toni Klemm, Lindsey Middleton, Cait Rottler]

In 2012, a group of bright- eyed students and post-docs gathered at the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest in Blue River, Oregon, to learn about climate change, climate adaptation, and science communication. There, in the rainforest of the Pacific Northwest, a community of peers formed whose affiliations ranged from Alaska to the Hawaiian Islands to each of the corners of the continental U.S. These early career professionals decided to form a network to support each other in their future endeavors.

Fast forward to 2018: the Early Career Climate Forum looks very different than when it began six years ago, and the members of the leadership team have changed as well. The ECCF has published 125 blogs, authored by more than 65 different contributors representing a wide range of professional (graduate students, university professors, communication specialists) and academic backgrounds (climatology, ecology, applied science, and social science), and regions across the United States. The website has reached thousands of users and our listserv delivers announcements to members across the country; in addition, a recent survey found that the ECCF provides a strong sense of community with other early career climate scientists and a sense of hope for the future of climate science research1. We are proud of our accomplishments over the past few years and grateful for the support that the Climate Adaptation Science Centers2 have provided that allowed us to grow to where we are today.

As is true of everything in life, nothing is constant except change. The ECCF has reached a riverbend and we are charting our course for what comes next. Our more regular users may have already noticed that we have slowed down in releasing new content. We expect this hiatus will last a few more months as we secure new funding, complete a transition in leadership, and shift the platform to a new host organization. We anticipate maintaining our social media presence, and look forward to transitioning the listserv to a more flexible platform with higher functionality (such as Google groups). We view this moment as an opportunity for growth as well as motivation to fulfil a long-term vision of the ECCF as a resource that serves students and early career professionals inside and outside the CASC network with shared interests in climate change. This is particularly so as we watch the growth of actionable climate science and observe the need to train graduate students and early career professionals to thrive in transdisciplinary activities. To help guide our path forward, we have revised our mission statement: The ECCF exists in part to help early career professionals and students in climate connect and support each other, and help provide resources and skills needed for working in climate.

We hope you view the ECCF as a valuable resource, and we look forward to receiving input from both old and new members on what you would like the ECCF to tackle and become as we enter a new phase of growth. Currently, we know of no other platform or community that links early career professionals with interest in climate change together on a national scale, particularly with respect to actionable science. If you would like to join the leadership team and help us grow, please send an email to ecclimateforum@gmail.com and let us know your ideas for the future. Tell us about the skills and training you’d like to have (or wish you had), the topics you would like to know more about, the people you’d like to connect with (and how you’d like to connect), and any media (video, blogs, podcasts, etc.) you’d like help with. Tell us what your interests are and how we can help you thrive in your discipline or in transdisciplinary work. We see this turning point as an opportunity to build on our successes to date, and grow our community into something even better, more inclusive, diverse, and impactful.  Join us!

2Meaghan L. Guckian, Ezra M. Markowitz, Clay S. Tucker, Elsita Kiekebusch, Toni Klemm, Lindsey Middleton, Adrienne Wootten, Michelle D. Staudinger. In review. Assessing the impact of an online climate science community: The Early Career Climate Forum.

2Funding for this project was provided by the United States Geological Survey and the Department of the Interior Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center (Award #G15AC00013) between 2015-2018.

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Photo credit: Interesting Pennsylvania and Beyond; Accessed November 27, 2018