Veteran environmental correspondent and Indian Country Today Media Network contributor Terri Hansen, Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, is one of just five journalists to be awarded a diversity travel fellowship to the National Association of Science Writers annual conference, which begins this week.
“I am truly honored, grateful and humbled at my selection for NASW's diversity fellowship,” Hansen said upon learning of her award. “Climate disruption is the most critical issue humanity faces. Environmental issues like habitat destruction, species depletion, ocean woes, extreme weather, drought, mining, toxics and environmental health closely follow. There has never been a greater need for Native journalists to understand the science that underlies these issues.”
Hansen has been a correspondent for ICTMN since 2008, when she wrote about the impacts of climate change on tribal nations for what was then the weekly newspaper Indian Country Today.
Besides covering environment and related health issues for ICTMN, Hansen was a longtime reporter at The Oregonian through 1992. She has won numerous awards, most recently in 2013, when she took second place for Best Environmental News Story from the Native American Journalists Association’s Excellence in Journalism Media Award in a daily/weekly for a story on keeping consumer products out of the Columbia River and environs for ICTMN.
Hansen has also received fellowships from the National Press Foundation, the Society of Environmental Journalists, the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Earth Journalism Network. She founded and runs Mother Earth Journal, an online publication about tribal environmental and health issues both near and far.
The DiverseScholar Diversity Travel Fellowship encourages Native journalists to apply for opportunities such as these, Hansen noted, adding that they are listed on the Native American Journalists Association website. It’s also important to join science, health or environmental journalism organizations to stay abreast of the science and tap expert sources, she said. The fellowship “also highlights our need to develop a list of traditional knowledge experts to best communicate climate science in our communities,” Hansen added.
Hansen is one of a handful of American Indians working to draw Natives’ attention to the importance of focusing on science and math, including astronaut John Herrington, Chickasaw.
“Minorities are poised to bring relevant reporting to their communities about science, health, and environment issues,” said Alberto Roca, who runs the website MinorityPostDoc.org, geared toward Native and other minority Ph.D. students, in an e-mail to ICTMN. “With the drastic changes happening in the journalism profession, the workforce needs to come together to support one another and to mentor the pipeline of future journalists.”
Roca wrote from the annual conference of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) being held this week in Los Angeles.
Hansen vowed to continue using her work both to get the message out about environmental issues, and to encourage fellow Native journalists to develop acumen in science and math reporting.
“My goal is to report on this conference and related activities in ways that broaden the interest of science, environment, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) reporting by my fellow Native journalists,” Hansen said.