Empowering Environmental Professionals: Become a STEM Ambassador – by Ashleigh Kitchiner MCIEEM

In an era of rapid environmental change and increasing ecological challenges, the need for passionate and knowledgeable environmental professionals has never been greater. While our expertise plays a crucial role in addressing pressing environmental issues, it’s equally important for us to share our knowledge and inspire the next generation of environmental stewards. One powerful way to achieve this is by becoming a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Ambassador.

In this blog, I’ll share my experiences and explore why environmental professionals should consider taking on this vital role and how it can make a significant impact on our planet’s future.

What is a STEM Ambassador?

STEM Ambassadors are volunteers who dedicate their time and expertise to inspire and engage young people in STEM subjects and careers. When it comes to time, we are all spread thin in our busy modern lives, being pulled from one task to another. Starting something new can be daunting and even overwhelming but as a STEM Ambassadors you are simply required to do one activity per year to keep your membership. This activity could be a one hour online talk from your home office, or it could be a day practical pond-dipping with a youth group. You decide what you want to do. This give you more freedom to develop your activities, choose what you want to get involved and leave the rest. When it comes to developing your activities, I find it helpful to think about your motivations.

My aim is to bring STEM to life, showing its relevance, and share my passion for the field of marine biology. Yours may be different but if you show how your field actually touches so many aspects of their lives and how cool your job is, I think you’ll create a brilliant activity. I know when I was in university I didn’t understand the array of jobs that were available to me when I left, and this is something I remember. Now,  I enjoy showing young people the variety of roles in my field and how they can get there. I have completed mock interviews, mentoring, online talks, activities rolling over a few weeks, been involved with science festivals and business awards for young people. The activities you can get involved in and the experience you gain is as diverse as you want to make it and I have seen increased requirements for environmental professionals over the years.

There’s a growing need for environmental professionals to join the ranks to showcase their work and roles. Environmental professionals possess a unique skill set that is of immense value to young minds and communities. Our expertise in fields like ecology, conservation, climate science, and sustainable development equips us with valuable insights into the challenges facing our planet. By becoming a STEM Ambassador, you can encourage the next generation of nature enthusiasts to continue and enhance your work.

Getting Started as a STEM Ambassador

Becoming a STEM Ambassador is a rewarding endeavour that allows us as environmental professionals to use our knowledge to make a tangible difference. Here’s how you can get started:

  1. Register: Join a STEM Ambassador program or organisation in your region. These programs often provide training, resources, and opportunities to connect with schools and community groups.
  2. Identify Your Passion: Determine which aspects of environmental science and sustainability you’re most passionate about. This will help you tailor your outreach activities and presentations to resonate with your audience.
  3. Plan Engaging Activities: Develop hands-on, interactive activities and presentations that make STEM subjects and environmental concepts exciting and accessible. Consider using real-world examples and case studies from your own experiences. When I developed mine I opened up the curriculums and tied this into my activities. Also, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel here, there are already loads of resources available so search for activities in your local STEM Ambassador hub and you will be able to find something already made.
  4. Collaborate: Partner with local schools, youth organisations, and community groups to identify opportunities for engagement. Collaborative efforts can amplify your impact.
  5. Stay Informed: Continuously update your knowledge about environmental issues and emerging trends in STEM fields. Being well-informed allows you to provide accurate and up-to-date information to your audience.
  6. Inspire and Connect: Share your personal journey, passion, and enthusiasm for STEM and the environment, in my case videos of dolphins! Connect with your audience on a personal level, making the learning experience memorable and inspiring.

As environmental professionals, our expertise is not only needed to address environmental challenges but also to inspire future generations to take up the mantle of environmental stewardship. Becoming a STEM Ambassador allows us to do just that, by connecting with young minds, fostering a love for STEM subjects, and instilling a sense of responsibility for the planet. By sharing our knowledge and passion, we can make a lasting impact on the future of our environment and the next generation of environmental leaders. So, why wait? Take the first step and become a STEM Ambassador today, and together, we can shape a more sustainable future.

Ashleigh Kitchiner MCIEEM

Ashleigh is a passionate environment advocate and marine biologist, specialising in marine mammals. She has been fortunate enough to work in the energy, charity and tourism sectors, working off and onshore in various roles. Ashleigh is passionate about onboarding environmental advocates and is an active STEM Ambassador, STEMette and WISE Ambassador.

Blog posts on the CIEEM website are the views and opinions of the author(s) credited. They do not necessarily represent the views or position of CIEEM. The CIEEM blog is intended to be a space in which we publish thought-provoking and discussion-stimulating articles. If you’d like to write a blog sharing your own experiences or views, we’d love to hear from you at SophieLowe@cieem.net.