Community Connectors: Courtney Price
Original article created and published by the Office of Outreach and Engagement at The Ohio State University.
Community Connectors is a monthly series highlighting Ohio State staff members who have shown leadership in partnering with our communities to make an impact. Photo: Courtney Price works with a student at a Breakfast of Science Champions event pre-pandemic.
Education & Outreach Specialist
Arabidopsis Biological Resource Center & Center for Applied Plant Sciences
I lead the K-12 and community outreach programs for the Arabidopsis Biological Resource Center and the Center for Applied Plant Sciences at Ohio State. In this role I work with K-12 students and teachers, the public, and Ohio State researchers to promote science engagement. The goal of our outreach program is to showcase the important role plants play in our daily lives, support the inclusion of more plant science in K-12 curriculum, and to make science accessible and fun. For the K-12 audience, my work focuses on creating education resources, visiting schools, hosting field trips, and facilitating teacher workshops. I work with community partners such as COSI and the Franklin Park Conservatory to collaborate on programs and participate in community events. In addition, I work with plant science researchers to support their education and community engagement efforts and provide science communication training. With the current pause on in-person events, my focus has shifted to providing virtual resources and outreach opportunities to stay connected with our audiences during the pandemic.
Why is engaging the community important to you and your work?
It is so important to connect what we do to the greater good, and to invite the community to be a part of it. For me personally, I love science and I love sharing that with people in a way that sparks curiosity and helps to develop an individual's sense of science identity. So many people see science as something inaccessible or disconnected from their daily lives. It is our responsibility as educators and researchers to flip the script on that, and you can't do that without engaging with the community.
What lessons have you learned from the community that have helped you as a university staff member?
One of the most valuable lessons I've learned is to put the effort into being a good partner. To me this means being flexible and adaptable, co-creating experiences alongside our community partners, considering the needs, wants, and interests of our audiences, and meeting people where they are. If you invest the time in your partnerships the outcome is so much more rewarding for everyone involved.
What has been your favorite moment from your community-engagement work?
WestFest (West Campus Science and Sustainability Festival) stands out as one of my favorites. The event was founded through a grassroots effort by a small group of staff. It brings together Ohio State researchers and educators with community partners to facilitate hands-on STEM activities, and it provides the community with behind-the-scenes access to research facilities normally closed to the public. Serving on the WestFest Planning Committee for the last four years has been fun and has provided me with the opportunity to meet amazing colleagues across campus and in the community.
What advice do you have for other staff members who are interested in getting involved in community engagement?
Find your people! Take the time to get to know the people who do similar work in other units across campus, share your work, learn from their expertise, and amplify each other's successes. Build relationships with community partners at the individual level. These relationships can be a rich source of inspiration, professional support, and innovative collaborations.