This is Michelle Baker, the Conservation Writing Pro, and I deliver writing training to government scientists that improves your efficiency and effectiveness so you can comply with regulations, publish research data, and protect America’s natural resources.
“I thought Michelle was fantastic … Fun, engaging, relatable, inspiring. I’m not sure the class would be the same without her. … Michelle has a talent for relating to and inspiring students.”
I offer the following courses to environmental conservation agencies with federal and state governments as well as NGOs.
Train-the-trainer guidance (includes Keys to Effective Editing): Managers in conservation agencies wear lots of different hats. While “writing instructor” may not be at the top of that list, managers read and review long, technical documents written by their staff. Extensive editing is inefficient. A good manager will learn to delegate writing tasks by training his or her staff to do them consistently and well. Tools such as style guides, guidance documents, and templates can help (see below). Still, staff need a manager that can give them instruction, guidance, and feedback. This course adds a new skill to a leader’s repertoire – the ability to help their staff become efficient and effective writers.
Eight Weeks to Writing with Clarity – online, 8 weeks, 18 students maximum; onsite 2.5 or 3 days, 25 students maximum
Argument for Scientists – on site, 4 days, 25 students maximum
Keys to Transparent Communication – on site, 2 or 2.5 days, 25 students maximum
Introductory Webinars – online, 90 minutes apiece, 40 students maximum
NGOs and government agencies interested in training should consider the size of their population requiring training (10, 25, or 40+), the type of training required (introductory communication skills, advanced technical skills, or management-level skills), and the desired training venue (online or onsite).
If you are looking for a comprehensive training solution, I suggest a combination of Argument for Scientists and Keys to Effective Editing. These two classes provide staff with the writing skills to create scientifically sound, legally defensible documents and allow managers to establish best practices for reviewing them.
Individuals seeking training should contact either their supervisor or their training coordinator. You can (1) provide them with my information or (2) send an email to both of us introducing us and describing your training needs.
I designed these courses in response to your needs after helping design Critical Writing Critical Thinking in 2007 for the National Conservation Training Center. In doing so, I relied on the instruction I received in rhetoric and the pedagogy of composition at the Catholic University of America as well as years of teaching experience as a Teaching Assistant at CUA and as an adjunct instructor at Shepherd University. But most importantly, I learned from you about the challenges you face, include all of the following:
- writing to multiple audiences such as Congress, other scientists, and members of the general public
- feeling uncertain about your role as “the author” when others in the review chain change so much of what you write
- trying to do what’s best for the species but having to use a boilerplate that doesn’t seem to fit
- relying on cut-and-paste as the only “safe” option
- not knowing where to begin
- writing the entire document at the last minute in a state of pressure and anxiety, certain you could have done better, but with no concrete plan for what to do differently the next time
- facing confusing and demoralizing comments from reviewers who want you to change everything from the “general line of the argument” to the comma on p. 10
I’ve heard your stories. I know the challenges you face. So I’ve designed these courses to give you clear, logical, stepwise processes you can use on the job to overcome these obstacles. Every class that I teach is packed full of practical tools you can implement immediately to demystify the writing process, eliminate procrastination and writer’s block, and resolve the unique challenges you face as a government biologist.
Michelle delivers complex information to her students with wit and humor.
With the training I’ve created, you will spend less time spinning your wheels and more time producing quality content to protect America’s natural resources, because you’ll have a blueprint for managing the writing process and a strategy for every challenge that comes along.
You will also enjoy a greater sense of accomplishment as your documents begin to achieve their intended purpose. You’ll feel confident replacing bureaucratic boilerplate with clear context written in an appropriate tone. And your reviewers will be delighted to see your agency’s position outlined transparently in plain English.
Speaking of boilerplate, I can also help your organization create style guides, guidance documents, or templates:
- As a language scholar, a scientific writing trainer, and an editor, I have studied, taught, and implemented numerous style guides and document templates. These include the Government Printing Office Style Manual; The Council of Science Editors’ Scientific Style and Format; The Gregg Reference Manual: A Manual of Style, Grammar, Usage, and Formatting; and The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, to name just a few. I have also consulted with a variety of work groups including to develop types of documents and guidance, including Habitat Consultation Plans, Biological Opinions, and Species Status Assessments. This experience can be leveraged by companies and agencies who wish to develop style guides, guidance documents, or templates. Work product consists of a downloadable and reproducible PDF with Excel spreadsheets and Word-based templates as appropriate based on institutional knowledge and objectives.
Finally, I understand that budgets and especially travel costs are severely restricted for government training. So I offer a mixture of online and onsite training for your convenience.
Please contact me directly for pricing, calendar, travel, and other administrative arrangements. I look forward to hearing how I can help!
L. Michelle Baker, PhD
The Conservation Writing Pro
~Communication, the key to conservation~
304 283 4573
Here are a few of the government agencies I have worked with: