Kim Richey Is a Proud Ambassador

The old saying “Been there, done that, got the t-shirt” carries an added sense of pride for the Science Ambassadors, a group of Dow AgroSciences (DAS) employees who volunteer to do science education outreach in and around their Indianapolis, Ind., home base. Kim Richey, one of the group’s leaders, explained that members receive an Ambassadors t-shirt when they volunteer for their first event.

“People say, ‘Hey, I got my t-shirt. I’m special,” Richey said. “Some people just wear the shirt around, even if there’s not an event.”

An Ambassador event can range from a lone volunteer spending an afternoon in a middle school classroom to dozens of volunteers spread out at a big regional gathering such as Celebrate Science Indiana. In 2013, Dow AgroSciences Science Ambassadors participated in 60 events that reached more than 13,000 children, teens and adults in central Indiana.

Richey attended about 15 Ambassador events in 2013, because she understands the value of engaging the public, especially students. “We’re enlightening them, and we’re attempting to get the kids excited about science,” Richey said. “At the end of the day, I don’t expect them to be able to repeat back to me what they learned. But if they say, ‘Science is cool,’ they might decide that a career in science would be cool.”

Richey works in Biotechnology and Regulatory Sciences at DAS, checking genetically modified traits to meet government reporting requirements. But employees don’t have to be scientists to join the Ambassadors. “We have several who are in non-science jobs, like office professionals,” Richey said. “We do have quite a few from the commercial side, because they see the value in it. ... We’re always trying to recruit more people.” The recruiting is clearly working, since the group now has more than 250 members. Being a Science Ambassador, it seems, is as cool as science is.

“Those of us who are in it, we do kind of talk about it,” Richey said. “Even folks who aren’t, they’ll ask you how an event went, because they see you carrying the supplies out to your car, or they see you wearing the t-shirt.”