Michelle Baker, the Conservation Writing Pro–teaching, writing, and editing so environmental scientists can communicate more clearly!

Hello, and welcome to the Conservation Writing Pro’s training page. My name is Michelle Baker, and as the Conservation Writing Pro I deliver writing training to environmental scientists who work with government agencies and non-governmental organizations. My goal is to improve your efficiency and effectiveness so you can comply with regulations, publish research, and protect our invaluable and irreplaceable natural resources.

Argument for Scientists is an excellent learning opportunity. I appreciated the personal touch Michelle put into this class. It was clearly designed with us in mind, and I could see that Michelle spent a lot of time developing the class, reading our previous work, and constructing recommendations to improve our unique situation.

I offer the following courses:

Writing Science with Clarity – onsite, 2.5 days; 18 students maximum. A seven-step process for environmental scientists writing all types of documents, from public affairs materials to white papers

Argument for Scientists – onsite, 4.5 days, 25 students maximum.A combination of scientific and persuasive writing strategies intended for  environmental scientists working in a regulatory or policy-making context.

Keys to Effective Editing – onsite, 4.5 days, 15 students maximum. A combination of the hard skills of copy editing and the soft skills of training your staff to become better writers. Intended for managers who review the work of others.

NGOs and government agencies interested in training should consider the size of their population requiring training (15, 25, or 40+) and the type of training required (informational writing skills, persuasive technical skills, or management-level skills).

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. (Here’s some sample language to use.)

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. Each class also includes grammar and mechanics refreshers as well as tips and tricks for managing your workload in Microsoft Word.

Thank you very much for putting together such a well-organized, thoughtful, and meaningful class. ~ Susan O’Toole, Riverdale, MD

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 the writing challenges you face.

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 or organization’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 to develop types of documents and guidance, including Habitat Consultation Plans, Biological Opinions, and Compatibility Determinations. Most recently, i worked with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to help them develop writing guidance for Species Status Assessment Reports. The result was an ~200-page “Promptbook,” offering guidance to writers based on a variety of situations and case studies.

Please contact me directly for pricing, availability, 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:

Hoopa Valley Tribe

Hoopa Valley Tribe


West Virginia Department of Natural Resources


United States Fish and Wildlife Service


United States Department of Agriculture – Animal Plant and Health Inspection Services


United States Coast Guard


National Wildlife Refuge System


National Park Service


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


General Services Administration


Environmental Protection Agency


United States Department of the Interior


New York State Department of Environmental Conservation


Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora


United States Department of the Interior Bureau of Reclamation


Bureau of Land Management

Alaska DNR

Alaska Department of Natural Resources


Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission


Wyoming State Engineer’s Office


United States Geological Survey