During our days at Glacier National Park, we were a subject of curiosity to the many park-goers crossing our path. From carrying loads of gear down trails to kayaking our coring raft on the lakes, we stuck out and people wanted to know what we were up to. This meant we had to get really good at explaining things, to individuals with a wide spectrum of knowledge. We each came up with an elevator pitch and tested them out, but soon realized that we had to pay attention to our audience as well. We encountered people with no clue about glacier processes and on the other end USGS researchers who did this kind of work on the regular. Finding the perfect balance between complex and interesting was a challenge, but after a lot of trial and error, it came naturally.
One day, while a part of our group was coring on Swiftcurrent Lake, a few students and I stayed on the stream entering Swiftcurrent to measure sediment concentration and water discharge. This meant we wore our waders, which to the public was a hit attraction! We were situated underneath a bridge which was frequented by hikers, so throughout the day people would stop and stare, prompting us to greet them and strike a conversation. Everyone we spoke to was super excited to hear about what we were doing and often asked intriguing questions. It was amazing to connect with so many individuals, to the point where knowledge of our work was being spread throughout the Many Glacier area. We also got to fill in the Rangers on our findings, allowing them to talk about it to visitors during hikes, who we would then run into around the Many Glacier Hotel or in our campsite! This research experience connected our group to people from all over the world, demonstrating clearly how not only the field work being done was important, but being able to share our discoveries as well.