Snakes alive! Naturalist outreach series tops one million views

Bats soar through the night, bees pollinate crops, fungus grows among us and snakes slither through time.

Cornell’s Naturalist Outreach videos – written and narrated by Cornell science students who are STEM ambassadors to local classrooms – have topped 1 million views, averaging more than 40,000 views weekly.

Undergraduates tackle everything from a preying mantis to bats. Evan Barrientos ’14 wrote and narrated a popular video on carnivorous plants, showing how plants consume protein-filled insects by trapping them and using roots to digest their entomological meal.

In “Snakes!” Morgan Shelton ’17 explains, “Snakes have a far worse reputation than they deserve.” She gets viewers’ attention by holding a handful of different favorite serpents: “These are a few of my favorite snakes.”

A video on the invasive aquatic plant hydrilla debuts this later this fall.

Cornell students work with students from Ithaca College to create the videos organized and produced by Linda Rayor, Cornell senior lecturer in entomology, and Carol Jennings, director of Ithaca College’s Park Media Lab, whose students conduct the technical work.

The series has won praise from the Entomology Society of America and national awards at the Festival of Media Arts from the Broadcast Education Association.

This project is supported by Cornell Cooperative Extension, Smith-Lever Act funding, New York State 4-H and the National Science Foundation.

This article also appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.