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U of I project aims to teach people about wildfires through storytelling

Posted at 5:45 PM, Aug 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-14 10:44:41-04

MAGIC VALLEY — Storytelling and science are two things that people don't usually correlate, but a research team at the University of Idaho is hoping to use those two things to help Idahoans better understand wildfires in Idaho.

"The main goal is to improve the way we can communicate STEM education; you know in this case focusing specifically on wildland fire, but not limited to that," Leda Kobziar, a Wildland Fire Science Professor at the University of Idaho, said.

According to the U of I, student learning is enhanced through storytelling, which is why the team of teachers, writers, and scientists are using storytelling to educate people further about wildfires.

One of their goals is to target the rural audience because Kobziar says those who live in rural areas are less likely to go to college or get a job in the STEM field than those who live in urban areas.

"So we're hoping to be able to improve the way we communicate science to pave a two-way path between their way of understanding and experiencing wildfires in nature and rural environments and our way of understanding the science of wildland fires," Kobziar said.

The team plans to interview fire managers, firefighters, and fire scientists, but they do not plan on stopping there.

"You know it's not just the people who work directly with fire or research fire; we want to hear stories from the public and what their experiences have been," Kobziar said.

They also plan to interview people from all over the state, which they say is essential because wildfires throughout the state of Idaho are different.

"Fire is so multifaceted it's got so many different personalities, so depending on what kind of ecosystem you're in Fire is going to behave differently, it's going to have different effects," Kobziar said.