158 - Kara Maddox - Pollinators for the Masses


Andony Melathopoulos: [00:00:00] As a Pollinator Health Extension specialist, I get invited to a whole lot of meetings and I really love it. In the past four years, I've met so many people doing such remarkable work - it's been really inspirational. But I have to say in the age of COVID and zoom meetings, I've gotten a little bit worn out. Although I have one meeting in the past few months that really has stuck in my mind. It was the NAPPC Pesticide Taskforce meeting, where we met representatives of the National Pesticide Safety Education Center or NPSEC. Today, I'm going to bring you a snippet of that conversation with Kara Maddox, who's the Creative Director of Communication with NPSEC.

[00:00:41] And what she's going to talk about today is how to get the message out about how to help pollinators to people who, maybe pollinators are interesting, but not the primary concern that they have. I can imagine a small family with all sorts of concerns right now - how to kind of get the message into [00:01:00] their daily life about pollinators and how to inspire them to make changes that are modest enough not to overwhelm their very busy and crowded lives. So without further ado, I'm really excited to bring to you an episode kind of geared on how to do pollinator education for a big, large number of people with Kara Maddox from NPSEC today on PolliNation.

[00:01:39] All right. And we're rolling. So welcome. 

[00:01:44] Kara Maddox: [00:01:44] Thank you. 

[00:01:45] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:01:45] I think people have a real fuzzy idea in their heads when it comes to pesticide education. Can you give us a vignette of the various avenues that this education takes place and where NPSEC stands in the division of [00:02:00] labor around pesticide education in general?

[00:02:03] Kara Maddox: [00:02:03] Yeah, absolutely. So, coming from my background, I have a Communications and English background. So when I joined the Center to help with communications initiatives, I at first had a hard time wrapping my head around this too. So this is a common question, I think for the everyday listener. What NPSEC does the National Pesticide Safety Education Center is we support pesticide safety education programs at land-grant universities. So our goal is to support the centers and to connect them with each other, or with other entities or stakeholder groups and to help kind of expand the research and work that they do day to day. And so that's what the Center does, that's our mission - is to serve and support these [00:03:00] Cooperative Extension programs.

[00:03:01] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:03:01] And I guess for people who don't know most of the land-grant universities will have a pesticide safety education program that is kind of the local hub for pesticide education in their state. 

[00:03:17] Kara Maddox: [00:03:17] Yeah, that's correct. And to be quite frank, I didn't even know anything about Extension until I joined the center and it's kind of crazy because my undergrad was at University of Georgia and they're a land-grant institution. And so I didn't realize that these land-grant entities have all of these resources and pesticide safety is one of those. And so we work to help promote education in that area by supporting these centers. So we amplify messaging, we don't create messaging.

[00:03:51] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:03:51] Okay. That's great. So being able to take these initiatives and being able to really give them a lot of provenance [00:04:00] or kind of being able to make them work more effectively. 

[00:04:05] Kara Maddox: [00:04:05] That's correct. And I've learned too, in my time with the Center I've been with NPSEC for just under two years, that some states have more resources than others. And so part of what we do too, is to sort of figure out well, who really needs our help? How can we help elevate their messaging and how can we support the educators at the extension programs? And so that's sort of where we sit and pollinators and pollinator safety is part of that because we realized that we need pollinators. And so having proper pesticide safety education programs in place will help. 

[00:04:49] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:04:49] Now, if anybody's scratched around this a little bit, you know that one of the main roles of pesticide safety education programs in the state is to [00:05:00] roll out these trainings for licensed pesticide applicators. And that's a really well-worn path of education, but I imagine what's not so well-defined, and what's a little bit trickier is when you're dealing with the public. There's a lot of pesticide use by homeowners, for example. Can you just give us a picture of like the challenges inherent with this big broad group, the public and pesticide use? How do you direct education to such a large diffused group of people? 

[00:05:37] Kara Maddox: [00:05:37] Yeah, that again too. I understand the public because again, I'm still learning about all of these different entities and these training programs and how does this even work? And so a lot of what I've found is that if families or people who have backyards and gardens, if [00:06:00] they're using pesticides our big message for them is really very simple it's, "read the label". A lot of families and folks don't even read the label. To kind of narrow down on a very clear and a very easy message if you are going to use pesticides, the Center is pro-education. Please read the label, please take time to just Google it. Chances are there might be other options that are even less expensive that you could use, organic options. So, really take time to figure out what those options are. 

[00:06:43] And so those messages, to get those out, it is kind of a challenge because a lot of the Extension programs they put together a really great robust content and forms of white papers [00:07:00] or pamphlets and things. And a lot of times people don't take the time to read those. The general public, they want short messages, they want it really accessible, and engaging. And so just very quick, easy to understand messaging - I think works best. 

[00:07:18] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:07:18] I'm totally sympathetic to that. I have obviously all the time in the world to read the white papers on pollinator stuff, but when it comes to like, I don't know, car safety. I don't have the time. I want to know real quick what I need to do so I can go on with my life, it's a means for doing things. And I imagine for most people pollinators are just one of many considerations in their very busy and these days kind of crazy lives. 

[00:07:45] Kara Maddox: [00:07:45] Yeah, you're right. You know, we did some work with University of Missouri, their Ads Zoo Program, which is a program their School of Journalism seniors can take to work with real live clients. And so we worked [00:08:00] with a group of 21 students, two semesters ago, this is like right around when COVID hit. And they did some research they polled millennials at their campuses. They reached out on social networks to pull other millennials across the US and we found that, people didn’t know that pollinators were more than honeybees, you know? And so just identifying what is a pollinator, that was sort of our first step. 

[00:08:30] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:08:30] Alright. This sets the stage well for what I wanted to talk to you about today. I want you to tell us a little bit about this fantastic initiative - I've been just so impressed, it's so well put together. The Ag Near Me initiative that you developed in cooperation with Nathan Hammond at Prairie View A&M University Cooperative Extension. What was the genesis of that initiative? And then we'll get into more detail [00:09:00] about what it is.

[00:09:01] Absolutely. So this initiative actually started before I joined the center so many, many years ago, About three and a half years ago, Tom Smith, the Executive Director for NPSEC had this idea of, how can I bring together Cooperative Extension to corporate America? How can I link these two entities? And how can I create a cushion in-between to help them communicate with each other? Because we have different types of institutions here. We have more of a slow-moving institution merging with a fast moving institution. It was about six months after I became the communications person there was an opportunity through the Extension Foundation to become a fellow. And so with their blessing [00:10:00] and with their resources, we were able to start creating an e-field book about how to link Cooperative Extension with mass media companies. 

[00:10:11] And so I started the groundwork, started writing, started talking about where this idea came from. And we actually had a Cooperative Extension entity that we were working with and then it fell through. So there was a lack of communication I would say and I would put that on my shoulders, I learned a lot. That is when COVID hit as well, so it was sort of like, "okay, what can I learn from this?" Because that first Cooperative Extension group pulled back and said, "hey, you know, I'm not really comfortable with this." And I feel like a lot of higher ed institutions may feel that discomfort because it's kind of a territory they [00:11:00] haven't really gotten into and their brand is everything.

[00:11:03] And so we shifted to Prairie View A&M University and I linked up with Nathan who works as an entomologist there. And I sat down with him, you know, virtually and I said, "hey, so what sort of content do you have? Like what can we start with and how can we repackage this to help engage the average consumer?" And that's sort of where we went and that's how it started. And in the meantime, I'm writing this e-field book and when that first Cooperative Extension entity kind of pulled back, I was like, "oh, my gosh, like all this hard work, like what's going to happen?" And so we just kept pushing forward and then the stars aligned.

[00:11:48] Okay. So for Dr. Hammond, what was the issue for him in Texas? What was sort of his broader Extension problem that he was looking for a partner to solve? 

[00:12:00] [00:12:00] Kara Maddox: [00:12:00] Yeah, so it kind of related to how can he better reach millennials and how can those millennials then help teach their kids? We did some research in Texas, there's a good chunk of homeowners are millennials. And so we've found that a lot of millennials are having children now as well, where it's the biggest generation. Nathan and I are both millennials and we're like, well, how can we help this population to help teach the new kids coming up? "Hey, you need to really pay attention in your backyard and garden. You really need to think about pollinators and here's why." And so we wanted to do some more outreach specifically in the urban areas. And so that's what he really wanted was to help his generation and the kids. 

[00:12:56] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:12:56] Now, I guess one of the things that's always on my mind, there's a [00:13:00] gazillion resources out there. They're scattered, they're all over the place. The first temptation is, "well, I'll just make a website and link all these existing resources" and that doesn't work. Tell us a little bit about the packaging for this audience specifically. Like why didn't you just like link all the existing little publications? Why did it have to have a kind of coherent look to it? 

[00:13:28] Kara Maddox: [00:13:28] That's a really good question. And I have actually fallen into that, "well, I'll just make a landing page and put everything on there." And of course people are going to go, but then they don't and you're like, "well, why is that?" Well it's because we have so much content shoved in our faces every single day. You know, from the moment we wake up, a lot of us check our phone, we've got news, we've got what we're hearing in the radio, we've got TV, we've got Netflix. And then are you going to sit for hours reading content on a website? [00:14:00] I mean, probably not, you know, so you want to go where the people are going.

[00:14:06] You want to put things there. So if you had a river, for example, and you knew, "well, I know the fish are going to be in this particular part of the river, I'm going to put my message there." So where do millennials go? Why do they go to those social media outlets? And how do they engage with the content? So, how much time do they spend absorbing what they see on these specific outlets? And so that's sort of where we started. We wanted to meet them halfway, we didn't really want to have to pull them down a dark avenue and say, "hey, read this website". 

[00:14:43] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:14:43] I love that. That's been my strategy and it doesn't work very well. Okay, alright. So that is great. I can totally get that too. I'm Gen X, but also when it comes outside of the things that I'm most [00:15:00] concerned with, like, I've got a couple of issues, pollinators and a couple other things. I don't have a lot of bandwidth. You think about homeowners with kids and all sorts of business, mortgages, jobs, COVID - like trying to get something in there in the middle of the stream where they're already going past is the key. So what kind of message would work for millennials in Texas with families and houses? 

[00:15:39] Kara Maddox: [00:15:39] So we found that in order to really grab our audience and to kind of shake them a minute to get them to pay attention is that you really have to put yourself into their shoes. And so this is in the e-field book as well. I [00:16:00] took a minute to see, well, how is Texas specifically responding to COVID? Because that's exactly when this was coming out, our messaging, our pilot program launched at the beginning of Pollinator Week, which I believe was like end of June and that was full swing COVID.

[00:16:17] So we're like, "well, what's going on?" You know, "are they fearful?" What are they looking for to consume? Are they looking for answers? Are they looking for a place to sort of find peace? And so a message that we found that resonated was, "hey, you're going to be home, because a lot of us were still self-isolating at the time. Why not make your backyard or garden sort of like your little happy place. Like your little paradise, and how can you support pollinators while you do that?" So we had this like underlying message of something that was a little COVID friendly, like, "hey, this is what you can do that's safe during this time." And [00:17:00] meanwhile, we see the sales are going crazy at Home Depot and Lowe's there's lines out the door. I mean, everyone's social distancing of course, but everyone's sort of got on this like plant train, like "how can I buy a plant and how can I help make my backyard a little bit more fun to be in because I'm going to be home like all summer." 

[00:17:22] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:17:22] Perfect. And I guess that pollinators overlap really well with that. And I was just thinking about the message that you started with where, you know, in your first investigations, people just didn't know there were all these pollinators. And I imagine you can connect your backyard with like a Safari that you can take your kids on. 

[00:17:43] Kara Maddox: [00:17:43] You're right. Our first big piece of content was a pollinator prep guide. And so within that is a way for you to interact with your kids, to go around your backyard or garden, or even a local park. And to kind of check off, "I saw a [00:18:00] honeybee", "I saw a butterfly". So they can start thinking, "oh, this is a pollinator." And then we get down in this guide a little bit more, well, "did you know that certain types of beetles can kind of be pollinators?" And we kind of expand the horizon with that. And then we get into how can I then protect these pollinators and how can I support these pollinators? So you're right. The first step was the identification. 

[00:18:28] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:18:28] Well, let's take a quick break. I'm sure all our listeners are kind of eager to hear some of the initiatives that have come out over the summer. So let's take a quick break. We'll come back and we'll get to hear a lot more about the Ag Near Me initiative. 

[00:18:46] Kara Maddox: [00:18:46] Awesome. 

[00:18:47] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:18:47] Alright, we're back. And so, you had that great metaphor of the river with the fish going down it, and you're trying to put a message out. What are the key [00:19:00] messages that your team identified that, you know, a behavior that really needed to change for pollinator stewards? Or these homeowners?

[00:19:11] Kara Maddox: [00:19:11] Yeah. So to go back to our metaphor if you're going to try to attract a fish you want itself maybe like fish food, so that's sort of where we're at. We're like, "well, what is something that millennials can actually use? What are things that they might already be thinking about? And they are actually searching for that on the web?" And so we wanted to find a place where we could store these messages, which is agnearme.com. As you've mentioned, and to really kind of dig in, I asked Nathan, "what do you already have? What content have you already created?" Because you really don't want to start from like [00:20:00] scratch. You want to see, well, what sort of themes have you already sort of picked up on in your work and how can we repackage?

[00:20:07] And so one of those themes that we talked about that's sort of in line with pesticide safety is to provide our listeners or the person reading our content with organic options of pesticide safety. And so how can a family protect their garden or their flowers from pests without having to pay for anything? Because cost is something that we all have to consider. And so that was a message that we talked about and we wanted to make sure that, you know, aside from, if you really do want to use pesticides, that you should absolutely read the label. But if you want to try a different option, these are some things that you can do that are basically free. And so that's sort of where we talked about that because we [00:21:00] wanted to give them options about that were very cost friendly. 

[00:21:04] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:21:04] I noticed as well that there are those messages and the other one is plant choices - plants and pollinators. I think one of the things that's really effective in the messaging is this nice connection and not into the minutiae, but enough kind of like new pollinators for people who are not familiar with, that they can identify without kind of going down the rabbit hole too much. Can you tell us a little bit about that messaging? 

[00:21:33] Kara Maddox: [00:21:33] Yeah. So, one thing too, as you mentioned, we wanted to provide different types of flowers and vegetables that would actually kind of beef up your backyard make it sort of like a relaxing, peaceful place. But would also promote pollinator stewardship. And so that was another thing we talked about. We were like, "well, let's talk about [00:22:00] flowers that are pretty, that smell nice, that are flowers that are associated with happy times and different colors." And part of our Garden Blueprint Guide talks about how you can plant certain flowers in certain areas, and couple them with different colors to help monarch butterflies, for example, see and know that they are there.

[00:22:26] And so you can attract those pollinators that are beautiful. And so we also wanted to provide options of plants that you could eat because we thought, "hey, you know, while you're supporting pollinators, why not support your dinner table." And so that's sort of where we kind of came with that was, "how can we attract millennials to want to do this? And why does it make sense?"

[00:22:54] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:22:54] That's a really great idea. That's really brilliant. Can you tell us how [00:23:00] this messaging is packaged up? Like how does it get to people? Like how do you view it? It's not just the website. The website is where everything lives, but how do people find it?

[00:23:10] Kara Maddox: [00:23:10] So we were able to work with Blackhawk Audio. They are our media agency on record for NPSEC. And so they were able to secure hundreds of radio stations for us within Texas. So we had the Texas State Network, which spanned across the entire state. We had messaging that talked about, "visit agnearme.com to see this Pollinator Prep Guide." We would talk about how it was Pollinator Week, "did you know that there's a week for pollinators?" So a lot of people didn't even know that that week was actually a thing, you know? And so starting with identification and understanding a little bit more about this world that is pollinators is sort of where [00:24:00] we started. 

[00:24:01] And so we also had some radio networks that were in and around the Houston area to really kinda zoom in on this bubble of people. And so we were able to reach them through radio, but then also we had our digital outreach initiatives through Learfield IMG there, again, a partnership with the Center. We linked them with me specifically, and then I linked Nathan in with them to create ads on college sports network websites. And so Learfield IMG, they're a really great digital provider they work in college sports. And again, this is right during COVID. And so everyone's wondering, well, "are there going to be college sports, like what's going to happen?" And so while people were searching that on their local college sport, you know there's UGA, or if it was University of Texas, they saw these ads for, "the [00:25:00] Pollinator Prep Guide, and come to Ag Near Me." And then our final arm was through social media. 

[00:25:08] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:25:08] Alright. So a couple of those things, I would never have thought that radio would have been how to reach millennials, but that's something I'd like to hear more about. And the other dimension of it is college sports. You know, I think most people think, "oh, pollinator people, you know, wear Birkenstocks and are not sports fans." Tell us a little bit about those decisions. It's a really fascinating.

[00:25:34] Kara Maddox: [00:25:34] Yeah. "There's no way people who like sports, like pollinators." Well, we were thinking like, where do millennials hang out? You know, and how can we kind of pull this fish into this particular area of the stream and say, "hey, you know, the water's pretty warm over here, come with swim with us for a minute." So [00:26:00] you're right in that with radio the generations are very different. So you have a lot of baby boomers who enjoy radio, especially talk radio as what we've seen from Nielsen - this is for Texas. And so when we did the radio admittedly, that was a very big net. That was like, everybody and anybody that was the biggest net that you can pretty much cast.

[00:26:29] We reached millions of listeners. And so, we found that we did get a lot of clicks through radio, people who listened and then went on to the website. But it was a mixed bag. It wasn't just millennials, you know, so we needed a way to sort of drill down. And that's where the college sports digital outreach initiative piece came into play. Because we knew that [00:27:00] millennials do like sports, a lot of them did graduate from a college. And so that was something that we kind of pursued, but the truth is like, it's kind of like an art. It's not necessarily a hard cut science and it was a pilot, you know? So it was a six week pilot program. 

[00:27:19] If we were to do it again, would we change some things? Of course. We learned a lot and we're actually continuing to work, Nathan and I together in creating these pollinator guides. We have our fall planting guide coming out next week. We have this fun Halloween guide and we have plans for Thanksgiving and the holiday season. 

[00:27:43] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:27:43] Maybe just walk us through the Halloween guide. I was just looking at it it's really nicely put together and it doesn't fit the kind of expected aesthetic of like a pollinator thing. I really love the messaging because I [00:28:00] can envision it reaching an audience that is not the converted. 

[00:28:04] Kara Maddox: [00:28:04] Yeah. So are you talking about the one with the different trees and things?

[00:28:09] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:28:09] Yeah, where you've kind of smuggled in like tree selection in the leaves? And I was like, "oh, that's brilliant!" And they're pollinator trees. That is really great. 

[00:28:19] Kara Maddox: [00:28:19] So Nathan and I we're sort of two peas in a pod in that we love the fall season. You know, my birthday is in September, so that might be part of it. But we totally nerded out these last few months preparing for fall. This season has been, I think the most content created season for us because we love it. So to give you some background on that, I actually in my dealing personally with COVID decided to start taking watercolor [00:29:00] painting classes outside. And so I was outside one day and I was just like, sort of sketching a tree. And so Nathan said for this particular guide, "I want the first page to be a big tree that represents fall in general." 

[00:29:14] And so I was like, "okay, this is kind of cool." So I started kind of sketching this, like figuring out, "well, how can I make this?" Because he comes up with these great ideas and I'm like, "well, how do I make this a visual representation of what's in your head?" So I went out and picked up a bunch of leaves from the ground and disturbed, like a mixed tree leaf. And this was like, "the tree of fall". So you have leaves that are, you know, from elm trees and maple trees and here in Colorado Springs, we have aspens.

[00:29:44] And so I kind of put all these different things together and sketched it out. And then we work with some designers at what's called, "99designs." They're my go-to design shop. Every time we have a guide [00:30:00] coming out, I reach out to this group and they're fantastic. I start a competition, I give them a creative brief, I give them images and I say, "hey, you know, see what you can do here." And so that's sort of where that guide came from and he's like, "oh, I want some spiders, you know, kind of crawling up the tree and I want some pumpkins and black cats and bats in there." And so that's sort of where that came from.

[00:30:27] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:30:27] That is fantastic. It's really great. And I love that process, that thought process of really expanding the message, instead of like narrowly focusing on, "pollinators provide one bite in three" and everybody knows that message. It goes in one ear out the other. This is like an unexpected way of looking at it. I just love that approach. That is really, really smart. 

[00:30:58] Kara Maddox: [00:30:58] Thank you. I think that a lot [00:31:00] of it too helps because I'm kind of new to pollinators myself, you know? And so I'm sort of learning as I go and I think, "well, what would like your average Joe think and what would they want to see and how can I make this visually appealing?" Because my goal and Nathan's as well is for these millennials to share these with their kids. And kids like pictures, they like colors, they like things that they can interact with. And so that's sort of where we come from. 

[00:31:31] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:31:31] Well, last question I have is we are coming all the way back around to your first experience with Cooperative Extension, getting cold feet. I imagine there's one thing that Cooperative Extension does not do well, and I'm guilty as charged is being able to deal with a mass market. But also to pull back metrics, and for an Extension it's really important to be able to measure impacts. I can measure impacts with a survey [00:32:00] of 20 people in a room, I know how to do that. I have no idea where to start when I cast a broad net of a radio program out. Tell us a little bit about how you're able to measure the impacts of this pilot and what the impacts of what you've learned. 

[00:32:16] Kara Maddox: [00:32:16] Yeah. So I understand, especially if you're sort of on the hook for your initiatives in terms of funding, I'm sure the person who's providing those dollars wants to see that there's actually something happening. So I totally understand this metric monster that we have to tackle every time. A lot of the metrics who are able to pull kind of come in at different sort of arenas. So we looked at, awareness like how many people heard the message, but then we sort of wanted to drill deeper.

[00:32:57] How many people actually took an action? [00:33:00] And that's what you're looking for. I mean, yes, counting how many people saw something or heard something that's important, but how many people actually did something? That's what we're really after. And what we found is that providing a call to action and it's then the same call to action - pretty much on every guide and that's to take photos in your own backyard or garden and share on social with our project hashtag, which is #prairieviewpollinatorproject. So by adding that last layer, even though that's like, you know, kind of deep in the weeds we can kind of capture, well, how many people are using the guide, not only that, but then how many people are planting plants and taking pictures and taking that action and then sharing. That's sort of our last piece of the funnel there.

[00:33:55] And you're right. It's a challenge. And I've found [00:34:00] kind of being in between the higher ed entity and then the NPSEC entity and being that cushion person of linking Cooperative Extension with a Learfield IMG or with a Blackhawk audio. Is that we need a bridge between these things and we need that bridge to be very transparent. We need the bridge to be a place of comfort. And it's not something that's like forced either, you know? And so that's one of the reasons why Tom Smith of NPSEC and then Courtney Weatherbee who is his executive assistant and I formed e-bridge, it does that, it creates an electronic bridge between Cooperative Extension and corporate America.

[00:35:00] [00:34:59] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:34:59] Fantastic. Well, we'll have links to as much as we can. There's a lot of links in this conversation in the show notes, but let's take a quick break. Come back. We have three questions we ask all our guests. I'm curious what your answers are going to be. 

[00:35:15] Kara Maddox: [00:35:15] Awesome. 

[00:35:17] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:35:17] We're back. So three questions. The first question is, do you have a book recommendation for our guests? 

[00:35:28] Kara Maddox: [00:35:28] I do. And I read this book over the summer, and it's pollinator friendly and it's called, "Grocery: the Buying and Selling of Food in America". And it really gave me more insight into how grocery stores work specifically, but then also how the food system in general, functions in the United States and even in the world. And so they do [00:36:00] mention pollinators and how that's important for our food system. But this book kind of opened my eyes to the science behind grocery stores. 

[00:36:10] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:36:10] Can you give us just a little glimpse into what you learned from the book?

[00:36:17] Kara Maddox: [00:36:17] Yes, absolutely. So this book kind of showed me a little bit more of like how hard it is for a grocery store to stay within bounds in terms of cost. And then to go a little bit into the details with that, so there was this movement a few years back for grocery stores to create foods in house. So now when you go to your local grocery store, a lot of times you could buy a cake that's already been baked in house, or you could buy a fruit tray that they took fruit that didn't sell and they chopped it up and they made it [00:37:00] into a fruit tray. And so like the margins for that and the science behind that. And how they compete, you know, or even work with local bakeries, for example. 

[00:37:13] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:37:13] Fascinating. Okay, great. That's an excellent recommendation. Oh, I saw your mouth open, I think you were going to say one more thing?

[00:37:24] Kara Maddox: [00:37:24] It's written by a journalist and it's an investigative journalist and I love journalism. And so I would say that it's a very easy read, very accessible. 

[00:37:40] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:37:40] That's fantastic. A great recommendation. I'm so looking forward to your next one, your go-to tool for the kind of work that you do? 

[00:37:50] Kara Maddox: [00:37:50] I guess it's my, this sounds so simple, but it's my laptop. I don't go anywhere without it. I'm not one of those [00:38:00] people that has a station where you get into this room and you've got like all these screens up and you've got a huge desk and you've got five screens that you can bounce between. I have just my laptop, it's a small laptop and I take my laptop everywhere. So right now I'm doing this podcast with you in my living room, but a lot of times I'll be outside or earlier I was up at Red Rock Open Space. And so I would say my laptop because I can go anywhere. 

[00:38:34] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:38:34] I'm surprised with that. Because I would've thought with all of the things that you've been talking about, the 20 screens and a little bunker would have been like your home. Why do you like the portability of kind of being able to, you know, zip around versus all of this stuff going on? 

[00:38:53] Kara Maddox: [00:38:53] Yeah, so I am a huge proponent of work-life balance. When my [00:39:00] husband and I moved to Colorado just over a year ago from Georgia, I'm originally from Chicago. And so I sort of can see the different types of life that one can have. I work from home now, which can be like, "well, that means you work all the time", which is true. I mean, there's days where I'm up super early because you know, we're two hours behind Eastern Time. So when I wake up at eight or if I wake up at six I'm already two hours behind. So I feel like I do work a lot more, but only because I can take a break. I can go for a walk. I can take my laptop to Garden of the Gods and go. And it's important, I think, especially now to be able to connect with the outdoors because it helps your productivity indoors. 

[00:39:58] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:39:58] Great answer. Alright. [00:40:00] My last question is, do you have a pollinator species that you just love to encounter?

[00:40:12] Kara Maddox: [00:40:12] Monarch butterflies. I know that might be sort of like a cliche, but I just love monarchs. They're such a beautiful butterfly, they travel so far. I had no idea about the migration patterns until I started working for the center. Which is kind of sad that I didn't even know about this, I'm sure I learned, you know, maybe back in grade school about butterflies. But again, coming from like an English Humanities side, a lot of times, you know, science was not my strong suit. And so I'm so thrilled that I'm able to use my skills and learn? And so, it would be the monarch butterfly. 

[00:40:54] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:40:54] I love the way you described it. It's a great kind of coming full circle on [00:41:00] this podcast of being able to provide a next generation information. They'll be able to see monarchs in their backyard with their parents because they've got this great little guide. 

[00:41:13] Kara Maddox: [00:41:13] Yes, that's right. So agnearme.com. Download your guide today!

[00:41:18] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:41:18] Fantastic. Well, thank you so much for taking time to talk with us today. 

[00:41:23] Kara Maddox: [00:41:23] You're welcome. Thanks for inviting me.


In this episode we learn about an initiative in Texas that engages thousands of families in education around pollinators, headed by the National Pesticide Safety Education Center (NPSEC) and Prairie View A&M University.

Education Center (NPSEC). Kara’s responsibilities include developing and implementing communications & marketing strategies, managing digital content and social media activity, and supporting Corporate Social Responsibility engagement efforts for NPSEC.Kara joins the NPSEC team after 10+ years of teaching in higher education. She is a Professor of English and Communications for Georgia Military College's Global Online Campus.Kara attended the University of Georgia where she double majored in English and English Education. She holds a Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Augusta State University. In 2018, Kara earned her Master of Arts degree in Communications from Johns Hopkins University with concentrations in Public Relations & Digital Communications. She is the founder of KJMdigital and now lives in Colorado Springs, CO.

Links Mentioned:

Book recommendation: Ruhlman, M. (2017). Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America. New York: Abrams Press.

Go-To-Tool: Laptop

Favorite Pollinator: Monarch butterfly

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