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Creating Hands-On Public Activities

By Julie Nettifee

Stimulating an interest in science through outreach events can be impactful for all, the student, the presenter and those that are supporting the development of programs. And just as various aspects of science can be taught and implemented, the same can be said for crafting science outreach that is engaging, and provides a goal for visitors that can be achieved even in a brief interactive project. More than 40 faculty, staff and students took part in the recent interactive seminar, hosted jointly with the CMI and CVM Office of Continuing Education and Outreach, with Dr. Holly Menninger, NC State’s first Director of Public Science, NC State College of Sciences.

An entomologist by training, Dr. Holly Menninger is a science communicator by passion and practice. She has worked at the intersection of science and society – in policy, natural resource management, and public engagement in science. In 2014, she was named the first director of public science for the College of Sciences at NC State where she currently oversees a series of initiatives designed to build science literacy beyond NC State’s campus. From 2011 – 2014, she coordinated “Your Wild Life”, an outreach and science communication program that engages the public in studying, understanding, and celebrating the biodiversity associated with our everyday lives.  Prior to her time at NC State, Menninger worked in science policy and in extension and natural resource management. She’s authored a number of peer-reviewed scientific publications, policy articles, and popular science stories, and her work has been frequently featured in the popular news media. Menninger earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Denison University in 2000 and her Ph.D. in behavior, ecology, evolution and systematics from the University of Maryland in 2007. During her time at NC State, Menninger has involved the CMI in other areas of Science Outreach such as the COS Museum Takeover Event in 2016.