Today: Katie Burns is outreach coordinator at Audubon Minnesota in St. Paul.
I just began reading “Lead Wars: The Politics of Science and the Fate of America’s Children” by Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner. The topic of lead toxicity and environmental impact is one near to my heart personally and professionally. I am well aware of the dangers of lead toxicity in wildlife, namely birds. I’ve seen bald eagles suffering from lead toxicity, struggling to breathe and unable to stand. It’s gut-wrenching and so preventable.
I strive to set the example of how to be a good environmental steward for the students I teach and the adults I engage to through my work. This means stay informed on the threats to clean water and healthy ecosystems and make sure I am responsibly enjoying the outdoor spaces.
I’m always on the hunt for great science communicators and have been working to add more women into my media feeds. Emily Graslie, the “Chief Curiosity Correspondent” for Chicago’s Field Museum, has rocked my science world for years with her show Brain Scoop, her social media accounts (@egraslie on Instagram and @Ehmee on Twitter), and more recently the show “Prehistoric Road Trip” for public television. Corina Newsome (@hood_naturalist on Twitter) has been another great discovery. She sets a great example for young people, especially young women of color, that science and nature is for everyone.
I am a big advocate of supporting the arts, especially locally. I love taking in a performance by Minnesota Opera and attend quite a few because of its young professionals program called Tempo.
I’m almost always watching birds whenever I go outdoors. I can even enjoy them from my office window, which overlooks the Mississippi River in downtown St. Paul. Bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, peregrine falcons and plenty of waterfowl species are often cruising over the river. Watching these present-day dinosaurs never gets old.
I’m relatively new to the podcast game and I’m still cultivating my mix. One of my favorite podcasts this past year has been “This Podcast Will Kill You.” The two hosts, both women in science, give a compact-yet-fun download of everything you ever wanted to know (or not know) about their favorite epidemics and medical mysteries. The podcast features cocktails with each episode, like the “quarantini” and the nonalcoholic “placeborita.” This podcast has just what you need to make you the most interesting conversationalist at a party!
Winter can be challenging as I didn’t grow up in a household that did winter sports like skiing or ice fishing. I’ve been getting out as often as I can to go birding on the great trail systems we have along the Mississippi River. Some trails are better-traversed with snowshoes, which is a fun way to mix up things.
I recently participated in Audubon’s 120th-annual Christmas Bird Count where community scientists volunteer their time surveying birds. We count the number of species and number of individuals for each species seen in a single day. The data provides scientists with a snapshot of what’s happening with bird populations in winter. I love contributing to such a cool and interesting project that you can do with friends.