STEM Ambassadors bridge science and society, an increasingly important responsibility of scientists in all fields. STEMAP trainings guide Ambassadors to identify a community or “focal group” that they wish to engage, build authentic connections with that group, design effective engagement activities that are specific to the participants. Activities take place in venues where focal group members naturally congregate (e.g., coffee shops, correctional facilities, senior centers)rather than requiring participants to deliberately engage in an academic or educational setting. This enables the Ambassador to engage not just those who seek out science, but also those who cannot or do not engage with science via traditional outlets.
The STEM Ambassador Program provides scientists with evidence-based training, one-on-one guidance, and access to a network of STEMAP alumni and community organizations.
Of the 2016-2018 Ambassadors, 97% rated their experience in the program as valuable or very valuable. Ambassadors reported that the program helped them recognize new engagement opportunities, improve their communication skills, and make new connections to other communities.
Because the National Science Foundation requires proposals include a Broader Impacts statement, the ability to generate and implement innovative public engagement activities can also lead to more competitive funding applications.