Recently I took part in a unique opportunity that really changed how I will approach science from now on; or at least how I approach the funding of it. As a graduate student I am perpetually poor. I am either scraping by looking for funding, asking someone for money, explaining to someone why I deserve money, why my project shouldn’t be cut from funding…you get the picture. So when I heard about this opportunity called The Scifund Challenge where scientists from all over the country were going to be selected to learn how to do what is known as crowdfunding (more on this in a moment) and then advertise their projects on the web for all the world to see…well I got excited. I put all my heart into that application. I really wanted to be able to be a part of something that was going to use outreach and social media (two things I am very familiar with) at its very core to raise money. You see crowdfunding has become a buzzword these days, a new trend but what it refers to is when you advertise a project on a site like Kickstarter or in this case Rockethub, set a goal, and then promote the heck out of using every social and traditional media channel you can think of. The idea is to get a lot of people to give a little and then a few people to give a lot. You end up getting your project funded and they get to feel like they have contributed to a worthy cause that they might have known nothing about otherwise. (They also generally get a small token of thanks depending on their donation level.) It gets science out of the journals and universities and into dining room and water cooler conversations across America. It makes what I and every other researcher do cool and fun again, not just for us but for everyone else. It takes the snobbery out of it hopefully. And as I want to teach and/or do outreach when I graduate this was a great experience for me.
So back to my project; my goal was to raise $1500 which I raised pretty easily thanks to a group of extremely generous donors, several of which I have never met which completely blows my mind but at the same time…fills me with hope for the future of ecology, crowdfunded projects and of course pitcherplants and bogs in general. One donor in particular “fueled” my project on a couple different occasions which at one point is what put me over the top and helped me meet my goal and for that I am eternally grateful. He will be receiving his set of 8×10 bog prints this week and I hope he enjoys them, and that when he looks at them he will remember that he helped further conservation of upland bog habitats in North Georgia and all the rare and even endangered species that live there.
As for my other supporters they will also be receiving their rewards this week, whether it is a set of Bog Species Cards, a Bogger certificate, or a set of Bog postcards, all have been created especially for my wonderful supporters without whom I would not be able to finish my project. So from me to you I say again.
Please continue to follow my progress as I work through my field season. I will be setting up my plants very soon and will be keeping an online journal of what I am doing and how things are going complete with photos. I welcome questions and feedback. Part of my project involves creating an addendum to the Project Wild curriculum (K-12) – basically it will be “Bog in a Box” and the teacher will be able to choose from a variety of activities designed to show the importance of the bog ecosystem in nature. These activities will run the gamut from learning the key species and natural history to actually being able to walk the students through creating their own bog habitat if they have an outdoor classroom area. This part of my project is still only loosely outlined so please feel free to send suggestions if you have them
Okay off to the bog!
The Bog Lady.