Hello, I’m Nell Jordan. I’m a solutions oriented and multi-passionate person who has remained in touch with aspects that sparked my curiosity as a young girl. The common themes woven throughout my life are science and natural environments, creativity, storytelling, pets, travel, and making connections. These themes have informed important decisions, pivotal experiences, and exemplify my strengths in communications and enhancing connections. All of this is what eventually brought me to studying the neurobiology of storytelling and communications to engage people in difficult issues and obtaining a Master’s in Environmental Management (MEM).
Science, creativity, and systems
For as long as I can remember I’ve found inspiration in being creative, science, making connections, and systems thinking. I’m curious, I ask questions, make observations, and contemplate answers and possible solutions. Whether I’m at home or visiting a new place I want to know more about the people, environment, culture, history, and connections. Hearing someone’s story fascinates me. Basically, I love to understand what got someone to where they are.
My Story…The Beginning
The beginning of my story takes place on the east coast. I was born in Niagara Falls, New York. Through my eyes I lived in a magical place. I loved being surrounded by water and spending time near the rivers and lakes or exploring the State Park and all the natural aspects was where I was happiest. As a young girl I thought it was so cool I could get in a car and drive over a perfectly designed bridge above an enormous river and be in another country. We traveled from NY to Canada often. Here the seeds were planted for my passion to travel, connect to people, and experience different cultures. The actual Falls impressed me in every way possible. This powerful geological force created habitat for fish and birds, a tourism economy, and generated energy which is how my interest in the sciences began. Today when I visit, I still find the Falls inspiring and beautiful, but I no longer view the region through the rose-colored glasses of a young child. As I grew up, so did my understanding of the injustices of the First Nations people, and the very long history of environmental impacts of Western NY. Little did I know those first years of my childhood would come to inform the rest of my life.
I consider myself an east coaster, but after traveling to Badlands National Park as a six year old I was I even more curious about the west. My background in education brought me to Colorado in 1999 where I focused on developing programs, community engagement, and as an education advisor in private and public schools. Highlights of my educational career include being part of the team who developed the State of Colorado Response to Intervention policy, and securing funding from Target for an arts program.
Over time my roots deepened and took hold in this landlocked state and I became interested and more involved in the unique environmental issues impacting the landscapes and people of the west. As a transplant from NY I was aware I was part of the growing population, living on stolen land with limited resources. I was part of the problem and now looking for solutions. I enrolled in a degree program for wildlife conservation, wildfire science, and natural resources. My curiosity and concern for ecosystems, landscapes and people made the transition from educator back to student and researcher the perfect path for me to explore, and learn.
It didn’t take me long to realize the way we’ve been communicating science wasn’t reaching enough people. Complex science and data is delivered in ways for scientists to understand. Important information isn’t made understandable or relatable to the general public and doesn’t always reach the right audience or community impacted by the issue. I wondered how that could change and what was an impactful way to convey important information, inspire community members to get involved in issues, and take action towards solutions? It turns out storytelling—both telling stories and listening—creates empathy, connection, and inspiration. This all takes place in our brains. The neuroscience of storytelling can be used in any form of communication. By crafting informative data and inspiring messages through story, more people engage in issues. This is because our brain actually responds more to stories. Take a look at the images below.