Several hundred people took to the streets of Laramie on Saturday afternoon to express support for science and protest potential funding cuts to national agencies by the Trump administration.
Wyoming’s March for Science, which brought together University of Wyoming students, scientists and other community members, was designed to raise awareness of challenges the scientific community faces in the current political environment, said Will Welch, one of the event’s principal organizers. The march was a satellite event created in solidarity with various March for Science events taking place both nationally and internationally.
“The march is initially a response to kind of a gag order that was put on scientists a couple of months ago by the new presidential administration,” Welch said. “That has since been lifted, but the facts are that they’re still defunding the (National Institutes of Health) and they’re still defunding the (Environmental Protection Agency).”
Other key organizers of Saturday’s match included Wyomingites Sara Highsmith and Brandon Drake and two UW student organizations: the Secular Student Alliance and Sustainability Club, Welch said.
“People were excited about it, and a number of people stepped forward to volunteer and get all of this stuff, the march and the rally together,” Welch said. “And so, over the last couple of months, it’s just been kind of unfolding.”
Proceeds from the event will go toward organizations such as the Sierra Club and Girls Who Code, he said.
Participants met at noon at the corner of Ninth Street and Ivinson Avenue and headed downtown, chanting a series of slogans such as “science, not silence” and holding up signs with messages including “defiance for science,” “make America green again” and “if you think science is expensive, consider the cost of ignorance.”
“We’re interested in the environment, the climate and absolutely against Donald Trump and everything that he’s done so far,” said Debby Burnett, who participated in the march with her daughter Gracelyn Roberts.
Laramie resident Laura Meyer attended the march with her dog, Cricket, and a sign bearing the words “Let science lead” in blue letters.
“Science is important, and science needs funding,” Meyer said. “And science helps everybody.”
Several speakers also gave brief speeches about the importance of science.
“We hope for good direct outcomes of events like this and effects on policy, obviously,” said Naomi Ward, an associate professor in the UW Department of Molecular Biology. “That’s a little bit more unknown, but what I think is more known is that these events build our community, so they strengthen our community of Wyoming scientists, Wyoming friends of scientists.”
Jason Shogren, a UW professor of natural resource conservation and management, encouraged the participants to figure out their voice and make it clear.
“Being able to be here today is one way to demonstrate that science has a voice and needs a voice — and will continue to have a voice, regardless of the politics, and regardless of who decides what is happening,” he said. “The best chants in the march were definitely ‘When do we want science? After peer review.’ ‘Cause that’s the whole thing.”