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e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

ESF Students Sustain with Stories



More than 30 students from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) have submitted their stories to the 2020 Planet Forward Storyfest competition. Submissions take the form of written articles, photo essays, videos, and podcasts and focus on one of several topics, including food, water, energy, mobility, the built environment, and biodiversity. Judges will look for compelling characters, creative storytelling, science or data storytelling, and innovation. Finalists will be invited to participate in the Planet Forward Summit in April. The Grand Prize is a voyage to Iceland with Lindblad Expeditions and Planet Forward in summer 2020.

"The human brain processes stories differently than it processes just pure facts," said Dr. Silje Kristiansen, assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Studies. She teaches the course Foundations of Environmental Communication at ESF and encourages her students to submit their stories. "Stories are easier for us to remember. This makes storytelling an important form of communication. So much information tries to get our attention every day, but yet our attention, time, and interest are limited. At ESF very important knowledge is being produced and taught, therefore it's critical that we learn how to best reach people with our science. Storytelling may be one way of effectively communicating with a wide audience."

ESF student Lindsay Eberhart, from Freeport, New York, has mastered the art. She is a Planet Forward correspondent and has entered this year's competition with her video called "Tourist Attraction or Environmental Disaster." The video explores a destination known as Glass Bottle beach, a historic waterfront where washed-up vintage glass - as well as an array of garbage - is considered a tourist attraction and everything - vintage glass and garbage - is considered protected. Eberhart asks her listeners to consider where our garbage goes after we bring it to the curb.

"I appreciate the opportunities I've had with Planet Forward because it has given me a taste of what it feels like to be a content creator," said Eberhart, a junior environmental studies major. "Additionally, having access to a professional editor is pretty sweet. More than anything, though, I enjoy the correspondent role because it gives me space to create and to try things that I would probably never attempt, without the given opportunity. On my Planet Forward profile, I have stories spoken through so many different mediums. From poems and videos to journalistic interviews, I have been able to be super experimental with my storytelling, and that is something that I can thank Planet Forward for."

Planet Forward, a project of the Center for Innovative Media at the George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs, teaches, celebrates, and rewards environmental storytelling by college students. It is the premier engagement tool for George Washington's many sustainability initiatives. Emmy Award-winning journalist Frank Sesno formed Planet Forward in 2009 to empower new voices and lead a global conversation on the planet's future. ESF has been engaged with Planet Forward for five years and leverages our Digital Storytelling Lab, championed by Benette Whitmore, chair of the Department of Environmental Studies, to empower more faculty and students to produce digital media.