As part of an effort to share Florida’s biggest water stories with broader audiences, the University of Florida Water Institute, the UF Thompson Earth Systems Institute, Florida Sea Grant and the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences have organized the first ever Water Resources Journalism Intensive (WRJI), a crash course on how to cover a scientific conference for journalism students pursuing careers in science writing and communication. 

The WRJI will center around the upcoming UF Water Institute Symposium where students will be assigned a topic to cover, attend related sessions and work with experienced science communicators to get their stories in shape for publication on the Water Institute’s website. The cost to participate in the program is free, and graduates will receive a certificate upon completion.  

In preparation to the Symposium students participated in a workshop hosted at the Florida Museum of Natural History to learn about how to structure a science news story, how to mine scientific conferences for story ideas, how to work with editors, how to find evidence-based information and how to interview a scientist.

“Scientific conferences like the Water Institute Symposium are ripe with stories that need to be told,” said Rebecca Burton, communications manager with the UF Thompson Earth Systems Institute who is one of the founders of the new initiative. “I want journalism students to walk away from this program feeling confident about covering conferences in their future careers.”

The 2020 WRJI cohort includes five University of Florida graduate and undergraduate students from the College of Journalism and Communications. They are:

  • Felipe de la Guerra
  • Brittney Miller
  • Lianne D’Arcy
  • Sarah Breske
  • Patrick Farrar

Articles written by the students will appear on this page following the conference. To learn more about the WRJI and future workshops, email Rebecca Burton at