Membership

Membership Hack: Association StoryCorps

By / Mar 22, 2019 (via the AGU website)

Association members have stories to tell. The American Geophysical Union has enlisted StoryCorps, a nonprofit that collects and archives audio conversations with everyday Americans, to document its members’ accounts of their journeys through science.

How to hack it? Maybe you’ve heard of StoryCorps, the nonprofit organization whose recorded audio conversations with everyday Americans are regularly featured on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition. In 2017, the American Geophysical Union created its own StoryCorps community, giving members the ability to record and share personal accounts of their work in the Earth and space sciences.

The tools are simple: Members upload audio files using the StoryCorps app and a smartphone. Since the AGU Narratives project began, it has collected more than 220 stories, including some that speak to the impact of AGU, a message the organization is promoting as part of its 100th anniversary.

Why does it work? The personal accounts resonate with listeners. Many members describe the adversity they have faced. Haojia Abby Ren tells how she overcame barriers as a female research scientist in Taiwan. Miguel Román shares childhood experiences of weathering hurricanes in Puerto Rico, which ultimately influenced his work as an Earth scientist at NASA.

One story made it to the NPR airwaves. Climate scientists Zoe Courville and Lora Koenig describe the challenge of balancing personal commitments alongside field work on climate change that takes them away from their families.

What’s the bonus? Members can also record stories at AGU conferences. “We have used a number of different meetings and other opportunities to record with our community, including during our Fall Meeting 2018,” says Chris McEntee, AGU’s CEO and executive director. “At that meeting, we partnered with NASA, which allowed us to collect more than 140 interviews.”

Tim Ebner

Tim Ebner is a senior editor for Associations Now. He covers membership, leadership, and governance issues. Email him with story ideas or news tips. More »

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