Science Communication Fellowship

Connecting Scientific Research with Communities

Sunset Zoo's Science Communication Fellowship (SCF) is a growing network of certified researchers, professionals, graduate students and post-graduate students working together to connect the community to science and elevate the understanding of science-related work taking place in the region. Launched in 2015, SCF is part of the national Portal to the Public Network and has received additional support from Kansas State University's Graduate School. 

The new, Fall 2017 Fellows training is made possible with the additional support of the National Science Foundation.  This training session includes a new optional training this Fall, and a new training Spring 2018.  The new optional training will focus on skills needed to effectively communicate with public audiences in written format.  The new, Spring 2018 training will target skills needed to successfully engage in interviews with media outlets, and it will introduce basic techniques for creating videos of research.  More information to come on the Spring 2018 training, but those interested in any of these trainings should complete an application now.

Benefits of Becoming a Fellow

  • Enhance your science communication skills

    through a dynamic, engaging and participatory workshop series.
  • Develop a hands-on educational activity that is yours to use in multiple settings at Sunset Zoo and beyond.
  • Receive letters of acknowledgement and certification suitable for sharing with supervisors and for grant reporting.
  • Join a growing network of certified Fellows who participate in public programs throughout the year facilitated by Sunset Zoo.
  • A personalized webpage to engage multiple audiences with your work on Sunset Zoo's Behind the Science website (Coming Fall 2017).

Expectations of Fellows

  • Participate in an interview conducted by Sunset Zoo Education Staff.
  • Complete an official Science Communication Fellowship application.
  • Participate in an initial interview and cohort selection process that evaluates commitment, intent and availability to participate.
  • Participation in required workshops totaling nine hours
  • NEW: an additional set of 9 training hours focused on written communication, of which are optional.
  • Participate in a one-on-one activity development and communication meeting between workshop sessions.
  • Develop and prototype a hands-on activity related to your current work.  Concept support will be provided by Sunset Zoo Education Staff.
  • Sign up for a minimum of two public programs facilitated by Sunset Zoo’s Education Department by May 2018, and complete written requirement if attended optional training.

General Timeline for NEW, Fall 2017 Fellows Program

  • SEPTEMBER 8, 2017: Application due to Zoo by 5pm (CDT)
  • SEPTEMBER 15, 2017: Fellows notified by Zoo staff; the cohort is limited to ten fellows.
  • SEPTEMBER 16 - DECEMBER 8, 2017: Professional development workshops hosted by Zoo staff; exact dates to be determined with input from fellows.
  • DECEMBER 2017 - MAY 2018: Public programs by fellows.
Certification of Fellows will be achieved after completion of all workshops and participation in three public programs.

Application Process

Interested individuals should complete the Science Communication Fellowship Application and return to Zoo staff by Friday, September 8 at 5pm (CDT). Completed applications can be mailed, emailed or faxed to:

Sunset Zoo
Attn: Science Communication Fellowship
2333 Oak Street
Manhattan, KS 66502
email: | fax: 785-587-2730

More About the Portal to the Public

Portal to the Public was launched in 2007 through funding from the National Science Foundation and a collaboration between Seattle’s Pacific Science Center, Albuquerque’s Explora, Lancaster’s North Museum of Natural History, and London’s Institute for Learning Innovation. Their work created an guiding framework that informal education sites - like zoos, aquariums, and science centers - can use to build programs that connect scientists and the public. The Portal has since received two additional grants including one through the Institute of Museum and Library Services, expanding the network to 44 institutions. Sunset Zoo was invited to join the Network in 2015 and completed a year-long mentoring opportunity provided by Portal staff. To learn more, visit the Portal's website.