A couple of days ago, Kyle Bird shared his thoughts about an event known as Coastal Connection. He explained a few personal stories, described the structure of the event, and posted a few pictures. But more importantly, he pointed out the importance of communication, specifically communication about science. Well today, I’m not going to explain the importance of communication. Instead, I plan to communicate to you about the importance of Coastal Connections and the relation of this event to the future of science.

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I joined a graduate program in south Louisiana to study marine and environmental biology. Immediately, I went on field expeditions throughout south Louisiana waterways. When I was not in the field, I did extensive research on current environmental concerns. I also attended lectures, classes, conferences, and meetings to get a larger understanding of these concerns. Specifically, I attended Coastal Connections, and I listened to researchers explain their solutions for a degrading south Louisiana coast. I took notes about each project, talked to a couple colleagues, and congratulated the participants. But, I could not help but wonder about the importance of the event, the meaning of my work, and the fate of the science community.

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Oil layer found within south Louisiana marsh soil.

What’s the importance of the event?

Coastal Connections was an opportunity for budding scientists to be introduced to the scientific community. But more importantly, the event was an opportunity for the scientific community to scout out student talent. This event called for the scientific research of college students, and student research had to be relevant to the fate of south Louisiana’s coast. Many students submitted their ideas, however the event’s committee filtered out the majority.

What’s the meaning of my work?

NOT IMPORTANT…………..ATLEAST TODAY!!!!

What’s the fate of the science community?

Throughout my experiences, I’ve come to understand the importance of communication at events similar to Coastal Connections and the relation of these events to the future. Employers are looking for the next generation of young environmental scientists to lead the charge in scientific inquiry, and employers are also looking for scientists to have proficient communication skills. This process can put a lot of stress on a young researcher, and young environmental scientists are spending countless hours trying to enhance their skills to obtain job offers. Even though environmental research can often times seem pure and pragmatic to young researchers, many are wondering, “what’s the purpose of honing one’s skills if one’s potential is squandered by policy makers and the legislature branch”?

I am not proposing all policy makers and legislators are squandering scientific education. However, I am proposing for these professionals to carefully consider the extent and importance of science education whenever the time comes for budget revisions. If less funding goes to education, then less funding goes to programs like Coastal Connections.

In conclusion, the fate of the science community depends not only on legislators and policy makers, but also the votes of the people. Without the people, we would have no science education. Without science education, we would have no future.

-Brandon Bergeron