Christopher Cousins is a PhD candidate at Oregon State University, and his research is about amphibians living in river headwaters, and how to protect their habitats as climate change continues. He’s also a dual citizen of the United States and Mexico and son of a mother who reads Spanish better than she reads English.
Cousins noticed that science outreach to the Latino communities he knew was poor. Children’s educational television and books available in English and Spanish tended to focus on language, not science.
“Scientific information is not shared well with a lot of the population, but especially underserved communities and migrant families,” said Cousins.
So he set out to be a part of changing that. Simplifying his research into a message about habitat preservation, he turned it into a book. The title is Nuestra Casa. Our Home.
“We wanted these books to be available to communities regardless of the generational differences in language. Having both languages on each page allows them to read it together,” he said.
Christopher Cousins isn’t alone in his project, although he is the author – he and four others are working on it. They hope to make the book a series, and also hope it will inspire a future generation of environmental scientists.
“Our target age is six to eight, and we thought instead of focusing on climate change, let’s just look at it like you belong here,” he said. “The environment is not just its own thing, but you’re a part of it, and you can take care of it as well… I don’t want other people to have to wait until they’re 29 to know that this is something you can do.”
For his work to improve environmental outreach, Cousins won the Bullitt Environmental Prize, a $100,000 scholarship to continue both his work and his writing, The Bullitt Prize recognizes young people who are on the path to becoming powerful voices for the environment.
Photo: A palmate newt in a child’s hands. Credit: Shutterstock