Landcare does Science in the Pub

Cheers to the Northern Rivers Science Hub: Reaching new audiences by new and novel collaborations

Landcare does Science in the Pub

Cheers to the Northern Rivers Science Hub: Reaching new audiences by new and novel collaborations

Reaching Out -


The issue

In an established Landcare network, it’s all too common that we find ourselves ‘preaching to the choir’.  While many of our core activities are aimed at supporting our local groups and Landcare communities, Richmond Landcare identified a need to branch out into new communities to better spread the good word of Landcare.  We also find that presenting new science can sometimes be dry and unengaging, reducing the likelihood of learning and uptake of new practices. 

The solution

Richmond Landcare was a founding member of the Northern Rivers Science Hub in 2014.  The Northern Rivers Science Hub is a regional focal point for science communication and engagement activities in the Northern Rivers NSW.  It is a collaborative network of partners from across community, industry and government who share a vision of “Science education to inspire sustainable futures and connected communities”. Partners in the Hub include Lismore City Council, Dorroughby Environmental Education Centre, Lismore Rainforest Botanic Gardens, EnviTE – Environment and Southern Cross University. The Northern Rivers Science Hub is a part of Inspiring Australia, the national strategy for community engagement with science.

A highlight in the Hub’s annual event program is the Science in the Pub event series. After recieving approval to use the event name and concept, we began hosting 2-3 ‘SciPub’ events each year, exploring hot topics in science in a social and relaxed setting.  The event format varies between 1-3 presenters with a lengthy panel discussion after individual presentations (and plenty breaks for refreshments).  Held on a Thursday evening at a small pub or club in a regional town, the events regularly pack out the venues.  Presenters are selected based equally on the relevance of their research and their presentation skills: obscure science can be fascinating with the right delivery!  RLI sets up a static Landcare information display, delivers updates about Landcare and facilitates the discussion.  Topics have included: Banana Science with DPI, the science of wellbeing, Fungi in the Forest, Carp and Coral Trees and more. The event costs are covered by annual grants from Inspiring Australia, while the LLCI covers staff time to coordinate the events.

The impact

The success of SciPub is due to it’s novel approach and the power of its collaborations, especially with education and government agencies.  The Northern Rivers Science Hub straddles many disciplines and allows people from a much broader network to plug into these events: and thereby hear more about Landcare.  The setting attracts a different crowd than the standard field day, successfully increasing science (and Landcare) engagement in 18-35yo’s.  The key idea is to help make science fun, interesting, engaging; whilst being mindful of integrity.  All discussions must come back to the Science, and to maintain the integrity of the discussions you need scientists knowledgeable on their subject matter in addition to a compere who can tease it out of them. The informal setting of a pub helps make the topics more approachable, while the free-flowing conversation between presenter/compare/audience helps keep it interesting and fun. We have found that many new people sign up to our newsletters at these events, and that these people often then attend other Landcare events, seek support for NRM activities and join local groups. 

Key facts

  • 2-3 Science in the pub events held annually
  • Partnership with the Northern Rivers Science Hub increases Landcare’s reach
  • New and novel science + social informal setting = FUN
  • Fun= learning

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