Top 10 reasons volunteering for Science Borealis is nearly as good as maple syrup

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Mika McKinnon, Editorial Manager

Science communication is a sweet gig where your job is to be curious and share your excitement about the latest discoveries. But how do you get started? By volunteering with us at Science Borealis!.

  1. You’ll be doing something for the greater good. Science Borealis is devoted to promoting science communication in Canada. Through our work, we are bringing quality writing with a northern focus into the public eye. We provide the kind of warm fuzzies that can only come from working in the public interest!
  1. We take mentoring seriously. Science Borealis wants our roster of volunteers to get real experience that will help them find work in science communication. In exchange for your efforts, you not only get a publishing platform, but also one-on-one mentoring, detailed feedback from experienced editors, practice with commonly used tools, and entry into our network.
  1. You’re building an online portfolio of professionally edited pieces. Every article you write as a subject editor goes through our editorial process. With us, you’ll learn how to pitch, work with editors, and get a handle on what the workflow of a writer looks like. And you’ll be able to show it all off with bylined pieces that you can use as clips in your portfolio.
  1. We want our volunteers to stretch themselves. Volunteering for Science Borealis can be as challenging as you want it to be. Beyond the standard commitment of curating feeds and writing articles in their topic areas, our subject editors can also review books, cover conferences, or jump on breaking news stories and trends. If you want to push outside your comfort zone, we’ll help you do it.
  1. We want to promote Canadian science communication, not make money. We know you’re wary of publishers who will exploit your work for “exposure,” making a profit without paying you a single loonie. Science Borealis is a not-for-profit organization: we measure our success in the science we communicate, not the money we (don’t) make.
  1. While we don’t make money off your writing, you can! You keep every piece of work you do. We publish your articles, but you retain all rights to your writing. You can republish articles elsewhere, sell them, make a collection to publish as an anthology, or print them on fabric to turn into geeky bookbags. Your writing is yours to do with as you want.
  1. You’d be joining an amazing community of volunteers. At Science Borealis, you’ll work with other enthusiastic writers interested in communicating science for the public good. These are people who can give you critical feedback, cheer with you during accomplishments, or wish you luck when you join the ranks of our alumni.
  1. You’re part of our alumni network forever. After the initial 6-month commitment, you can recommit to being a subject editor or you’re welcome to stay on in the community at whatever activity level you want.
  1. You get to tell us what it means to have a Canadian perspective. Science Borealis is about promoting Canadian science communication in all its glorious complexity. Have an angle? We want the context you can bring to our stories.
  1. Our Slack emoji are hands-down the best that ever were. No joke, if you love science and adore saying things with pictures, not words, we have you covered with an ever-growing collection of pterosaurs, planets, and wildfires.

Have we sold you on joining us yet? We’re currently recruiting for a new Editorial Manager (honorarium provided) and for volunteer blog subject editors, so drop us a cover letter and a resume. Please make sure to explain how you’re connected to the Canadian science or science communication landscape (we’re very flexible), and your past experience. For the blog editors, please list the subject area(s) you’re interested in covering.

Go on, you know you’ve got the perfect entry for this week’s challenge question: “What is your favourite under-appreciated sea creature?”

Featured image: Science Borealis is as Canadian as snow, beavers, and the Rocky Mountains (Photo: JD Hascup; CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

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