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Published April 08, 2013, 11:10 AM

UND students chosen as NASA’s ambassadors

The stars aligned for UND graduate students Annie Wargetz and Katrina Jackson when they were recently chosen as 2013 ambassadors for NASA.

By: Jennifer Johnson, Grand Forks Herald

The stars aligned for UND graduate students Annie Wargetz and Katrina Jackson when they were recently chosen as 2013 ambassadors for NASA.

The duo is among five North Dakota women selected as solar system ambassadors. The other three ambassadors — Kristin Brevik, Scarlet Gray Bernard and Carrie Leopold — hail from the Fargo area.

Bernard said the state has previously been underrepresented in the program.

Although ambassadors are volunteers, only 55 of 99 applicants were selected nationwide this year.

“It’s a prestigious title to be a volunteer,” Wargetz said. “Only the most qualified applicants were selected based on their ability to conduct the outreach.”

Ambassadors are required to organize at least four community events per year that share information about space science and NASA missions. One of the three events Jackson and Wargetz have held here include the “Outer space in the Great Plains” series, an hour-long interactive presentation that provides information on resources aliens might find useful on Earth and in the solar system.

The two were both interested in public outreach and science communication. Jackson said they both had already been planning to do events, and the ambassador title has brought “the motivation to actually carry out these events,” she said.

“Since being a solar system ambassador, I’ve gotten a lot more experience in creating and promoting outreach events and experimenting with different ways of assembling and presenting content for our talks,” she said.

Wargetz said she had previously engaged in several campus aerospace events before applying for an ambassadorship, which will extend until the next semester for all the women and can be renewed “as long as you like.”

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