'Why I March:' March for Science protestors share what drove them to rally in DC

By Courtney Barrow, AccuWeather staff writer
April 28, 2017, 4:14:00 AM EDT

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From political to personal, every participant in the March for Science on the National Mall had a reason to be there.

Supporters of science turned out in droves to voice their support for public funding of scientific research and how it's implemented into public policy at the National Mall on April 22.

"Science has kind of fallen on hard times in the U.S., or at least a hard perception from the public for reasons that aren’t entirely clear to me," said Rick Carlson of the Carnegie Institution of Science.

March DC 4.22.17

Four students from the College of New Jersey share a laugh at the March for Science on the National Mall to support their chosen career paths in science. (Photo/AccuWeather/Courtney Barrow)

"The job of science is to both understand the Earth, understand the things that we can get out of the Earth, how we’re going to interact with it, how we’re going to make the Earth a better place," he said. "So seeing it fall under such hard times or negative impressions of it is just amazing to me."

"This is about what scientists are," said Glen MacDonald, president of the Association of American Geographers. "Scientists are servants and we can never forget that."

"We serve the people, we serve this planet, and most of all we serve the truth, and we should be here today as servants for the people, the planet and for the truth," he said.

Marchers carried signs with all kinds of messages and slogans: some clever, some more direct. Others donned science-themed clothing, with everything from lab coats to knit hats resembling brains.

March for Science 4.22.17

One protester marches down Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C. during the March for Science, carrying a sign that reads "I can't believe I am protesting in favor of reality" on April 22, 2017. (Photo/AccuWeather/Courtney Barrow)

"There’s no respect for science in the current political administration," said Joe Pierce, a former neuroscientist and participant, proudly wearing one of the brain hats atop his head. "Science is the foundation that so many decisions in politics have to be based on, and so we really have to show that as a culture we really respect science."

"We have to listen to the facts and not ignore them," he said.

While many were fighting for the rights of the people, others were participating to give a voice to those who can't speak.

"I think it’s important that we support science and realize that climate change is affecting animals as well as humans and the environment," said veterinarian Kathleen Shaw, who made the trip to D.C. all the way from Vermont.

Thousands brave the elements to partake in March for Science in Washington, DC
Earth Day official website
March for Science official website

"Warming temperatures are causing changes in climate; animals are going extinct because of this. Look at the polar bears," she said. "They’re losing their habitat, and we’re killing them."

"I’m concerned with water, water quality and organisms that live in the water," said Norma Salcedo, an ichthyologist from Peru who currently works in Charleston, South Carolina.

March for Science DC 4.22.17

Protesters unfurled a banner reading "Science denial is unbearable" as the March for Science wrapped up on April 22, 2017. Their statement was complete with a fellow protester in a polar bear costume (Photo/AccuWeather/Courtney Barrow)

"We need funding, the people that work in collections [like myself] because if we want to do conservation, we need to know what species are there" she said. "And if we can’t identify what’s there, how can we say like ‘there’s something at risk?’"

Some participants were drawn to join the crowd for reasons that go all the way back to their childhood.

"My first existential crisis was in sixth grade, when I realized that the oceans were rising, and I've been passionate about that ever since," said Emma Hunt, a student at George Washington University.

Hunt said the issues hit home for her aren't just environmental. "[I'm here to support] also mental health research. It's affected me and close friends, and there's just not enough information," she said.

Hunt said "[It's important] to show the powers that be that people care," she said. "I think it's really important to show that a lot of us are ready to stop it."

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