My name is Bethany Prochnow and I graduated in May of 2020 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Bachelor of Science in Life Sciences Communication and Environmental Studies. One of my undergraduate classes, LSC 432 (Social Media for the Life Sciences), required me to create a blog that explored a topic of my choosing. Since I grew up in Wisconsin and am an avid outdoorswoman, I chose Climate Change in Wisconsin. I think that it is important for not only the residents in Wisconsin but for everybody around the world to see how climate change is affecting the state that we love!
As Thomas Heberlein says in Navigating Environmental Attitudes, “However, for solving most environmental problems, the cognitive fix requires we change the attitudes of homeowners, automobile drivers, and the general public, not students in our classes.” So, my blog posts explore a variety of topics that are important to me and the people close to me, ranging from recreational to economic to health-related. Follow along to see just how important it is to acknowledge that Wisconsin is being transformed due to a changing climate.
One quote has stuck with me from an interview with Professor David Ronis, where he answers questions regarding the Wisconsin Idea Seminar. Ronis said, “A colleague from the environmental science department gave a talk on the bus. He spoke about the difficulty of discussing climate change in some parts of the state. His solution: not to talk about climate change. Or at least not to talk about it directly. Instead, he described meeting someone and asking “how are the trout?” The ensuing conversation ostensibly about trout, in fact, is about climate change. This professor was using a technique to address issues that are important to all of us in a way that is not confrontational, but rather compassionate and understanding of the background knowledge and perspective of the other person in the conversation. We all need to do this. As professors, it’s easy to get too used to thinking of ourselves and presenting ourselves as experts. But the other half of the Wisconsin Idea is to learn and listen – to hear what the people in our state think – and engage with them in this caring, compassionate way.”
I believe that taking that idea into account is essential when discussing climate change in Wisconsin because I have grown up surrounded by people who are similar to those trout fishers. All citizens are affected by climate change in some shape way or form, but they may just not realize it. So, talking to individuals in personalized ways that allow them to realize the extent of the effects of climate change on their personal lives is the first priority. That way, they can understand that change is necessary in order to combat the negative results of a changing climate in Wisconsin.
Professionally, I have plenty of experience with communication and customer service. I was the Communications Intern with the Wisconsin Idea Seminar. Last summer, I was the science communication intern for the UW-Center for Limnology up at Trout Lake Station. I have previously written blog posts for the International Academic Program and created monthly newsletters for the Nelson Institute of Environmental Studies. I have also worked in the customer service industry for over six years, at various places such as a campground, ski resort, factory, and restaurant. Basically, this blog allows me to combine my two majors, plus some of my other interests, all together!
Personally, I love the outdoors. Nature offers so much! You can typically find me hiking the bluffs at Devil’s Lake State Park, fishing on the Wisconsin River, or camping with my family up North. I also like scary movies, flannels, iced coffee, traveling, my cat, our State/National Parks, food, a good book, skiing, sunsets, concerts, tattoos, road trips, and spending time with my friends.