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Spotlight on Metcalf Institute Alumni: Christine Woodside

Christine Woodside – 1999 Fellow

Christine WoodsideChristine Woodside has a soft spot for Metcalf Institute. Her relationship with the organization began in 1999 with the inaugural Science Immersion Workshop for Journalists. Fifteen years later, she’s one of Institute’s strongest supporters and advocates as chair of Metcalf’s Advisory Board, a voluntary position.

“I am honored that I was asked to serve in this capacity,” said Woodside.  “I can never do enough for this organization that has changed my career.”

Woodside had just started a new environment beat at The Day of New London, Connecticut, when her editor suggested she apply for the fellowship. “I was a sponge for new approaches to the beat and I knew that I needed what Metcalf Institute could provide,” she said.  Her Metcalf fellowship also marked beginning of another important relationship for Woodside. Peter B. Lord, Metcalf Institute’s former co-journalism director and environmental reporter for the Providence Journal, encouraged Woodside in her work, and later became her mentor.

“Peter always prodded me to reach for more with my reporting,” said Woodside.  “He wanted all of us to make a difference.”

Although she had always enjoyed talking to scientists, the workshop helped her to realize that scientists had a lot in common with journalists–creativity and a passion for carefully gathering information. The training gave Woodside a new understanding of basic scientific processes such as gathering water samples. It also gave her the ability to view her surroundings through a scientific lens.

“I learned to look at the contours of a beach as a road map to geologic history, for example.” said Woodside. “My work in the field that week changed how I worked back in the newsroom,”

A freelance reporter for various outlets including The New York Times, the Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media, Nature Climate Change, and Popular Mechanics, Woodside also has another passion–mountains. She hiked the entire Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine a dozen years before her Metcalf fellowship and believes that wilderness exploration teaches people of the planet’s fragility.  One of her proudest accomplishments is her work as editor of the Appalachia Journal where she has introduced more science writing to the publication in an attempt to “join the interests of adventure and environmental preservation.”

As Metcalf Institute celebrates the 15th year of the Science Immersion Workshop for Journalists, Woodside still draws on her experience as a Metcalf fellow.

“I never did a story again based only on sources with an agenda,” said Woodside.  “I made it my policy to always bring in the science.”

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