VIMS Communications & Outreach

VIMS Outreach develops, implements, and promotes programs, events, and exhibits to create lasting connections with various public audiences, making VIMS research relevant to more than 13,000 people nationwide each year. Our programs increase public understanding of important marine issues and, over time, build trust in marine scientists and research studies.

Outcomes for all outreach programs:

  • Short-term: making VIMS research relevant.
  • Mid-term: increasing public understanding of important marine issues.
  • Long-term: building trust in marine scientists and research studies.

Programs offered:

  1.  After Hours Lectures explore issues facing Chesapeake Bay and the coastal ocean in a formal lecture setting. Lectures are free to the public and available to those not able to attend in person via webinar. These lectures reach more than 600 adults and older children annually.
  2. A Scientist Walks Into A Bar offers participants a chance to learn about and discuss current marine related issues. These conversation-style programs provide a deeper understanding for adult participants in several surrounding localities.
  3. VIMS’ Speakers Bureau provides opportunities for schools, clubs, businesses, and community organizations to invite VIMS faculty, staff, and students to speak on specific topics. Speakers reach a total audience of 2,000 participants annually, including grades K-12 and adults.
  4. Lifelong Learning courses offer an in-depth study on specific topics presented by VIMS faculty and/or staff. Community colleges and universities partner with VIMS to introduce issues of concern to those seeking information. Participants are often retired, with a range of educational backgrounds.
  5. Museum Lecture Series – VIMS provides speakers for established museum lecture series in Richmond and Hampton Roads. Audiences vary depending on days/season.
  6. VIMS Visitors Center offers both static and docent lead activities for visitors to the VIMS campus. Nearly 1,000 guests, annually, learn about VIMS research, local plants, animals, and habitats through observation and interaction in this space.   
  7. Area fairs and festivals provide hands-on educational activities, marine science artifacts, and information about VIMS research to participants of all ages and backgrounds. VIMS participates in 17-20 festivals annually in Hampton Roads, Richmond, the Northern Neck, and other surrounding areas, reaching over 3,000 people.
  8. Campus tours reach nearly 900 people each year from around the nation.  Tours help VIMS researchers connect science to the everyday lives of participants, including middle and high school students, and adults.
  9. Park Programs connect audiences to VIMS research in a natural setting by hosting educational events at area parks. This partnership allows VIMS research to reach families that may not attend events at scientific institutions.
  10. The Virginia Science Festival – VIMS offers several events during this state-wide event, bringing a festival atmosphere to scientific programs targeted for families or adults. Past events have included Beach Nights, canoe trips, and more.
  11. Marine Science Day is VIMS’ signature event showcasing VIMS research through hands-on activities, exhibits, demonstrations, tours, and more. More than 3,000 visitors from the mid-Atlantic and beyond attend this event.