The Ensia Mentor Program offers scientists and aspiring environmental journalists an opportunity to build their communication skills and professional network by creating an article, video, image gallery, infographic or other work on a topic of their choice for Ensia under the guidance of an experienced communicator.
How It Works
An Ensia mentorship begins with an application from an individual who is interested in producing a specific piece of content for Ensia but would benefit from guidance through the process. Ensia staff evaluate the proposal and the proposer for fit with Ensia and the mentor program. Individuals whose proposal is accepted are given an assignment (700-word article, short video, photo gallery, infographic or other work) for the proposed piece and matched with a mentor. The mentor advises the learner as needed, with both keeping in mind that the mentee is responsible for the assignment and Ensia editors are responsible for the editing process.
Ensia Mentor Program mentees may be journalism students, scientists, professional communicators interested in expanding their skills, or professionals or students in other disciplines interested in environmental communications. Mentees receive a small stipend along with credit for their work.
Ensia welcomes experienced environmental communicators — writers, videographers, designers — to share their knowledge and skills with the next generation as mentors. Ensia mentors guide learners one on one as they envision, refine, report and create an assigned work. They receive a small honorarium for their role and recognition, if desired, in the final product.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Ensia Mentor Program for articles only?
No. We welcome proposals not only for articles, but also for short videos, infographics, photo galleries and whatever else you might dream up that offers an innovative, solutions-focused perspective on environmental challenges.
Are mentees and mentors paid?
Mentees receive a $600 stipend for their work. Mentors receive a $400 honorarium.
How much time do mentees get to complete the assignment?
A due date that works for the mentee, the mentor and Ensia is set as part of the assignment process. The due date is firm once it is established.
What if I don’t have a mentor?
No problem — Ensia is responsible for matching mentees and mentors. You’re welcome to suggest a mentor, however, if you have one in mind.
What skills must the mentee have?
A good work ethic and strong interest in solutions-focused communications about environmental issues. If you recognized that as a sentence fragment, so much the better.
Is the mentor responsible for editing the submission?
No. The mentor guides the learner in framing the story, choosing appropriate sources, and cultivating basic reporting and storytelling skills. The mentor’s work is done when the editing phase begins.
How do the mentor and editor interact?
In general, through a simple hand off when the learner is ready to submit the piece. We encourage the mentor to contact the editor with any questions or concerns during the mentorship.
How much time are mentees and mentors expected to invest in a project?
That depends on the type of project, the learner’s abilities and possibly the phase of the moon. Very roughly, we anticipate mentees will invest 20 to 30 hours from accepted application to published product. We expect mentors will invest six to eight hours in mentoring the learner.
Are there age, experience or geographic constraints for learners?
No. Mentees of any background, from anywhere in the universe, are welcome to apply.
If my proposal is accepted, am I guaranteed my piece will be published?
No. The Ensia editor will work with to shape your work into Ensia-caliber content. If, after a sincere effort, we determine the content cannot reasonably be made acceptable, we will kill the piece (editor talk, and not nearly as bloody as it sounds) and you will be welcome to seek other markets.
Is this all carved in stone?
No. The Ensia Mentor Program is taking an entirely new approach to mentoring emerging environmental communicators. We expect there will be some midcourse corrections as we learn what works best for all involved. We welcome your suggestions and feedback.