Bill Nye—the quirky, energetic, bow-tied science guy from the hit educational show—spent the 1990s winning over the hearts and minds of students with the goal of helping them see that "science is cool." Now, two decades later, he's hoping to reach those fans with a mobile-first message focused on making the nation's parks cool, too.
On Giving Tuesday this week, Nye is partnering with Mashable to host a "view-a-thon" fundraiser on Facebook Live to raise awareness about the nation's parks and why it's important to visit and preserve them. The event begins at 7:15 p.m. Eastern Time and will last 30 minutes. Proceeds go to the National Park Foundation, a nonprofit benefiting the National Park Service, which manages all the national parks and federal monuments in the U.S.
For the fundraiser, Nye will talk to Mashable's 30 million Facebook followers while answering questions from the audience, giving quizzes and doing "classic-but-enchanting classroom demonstrations." He wouldn't give too much away, but told Adweek he's planning "some whacky things." (Anyone wanting to contribute will be directed from the Facebook Live post to Nye's page on the National Park Foundation's website, which includes a landing page for donations.)
"Millennials get their news from their phones, from their handheld devices," Nye said in an interview. "So if we can raise awareness of national parks through this media, we think it will be better for the national parks and for all human kind. Millennials are going to be running the show here in another 10 years or so, so this effort is just to engage people where they're already engaged."
Nye isn't new to digital media. Along with his 4.7 million followers on Facebook, another 3.9 million follow the science guy on Twitter. Netflix is also working on a series with Nye, "Bill Nye Saves The World," which will debut next spring.
This isn't the first time Nye has spoken on behalf of the nation's parks. In fact, he's the Centennial Ambassador for the National Park Service's #FindYourPark campaign, which celebrates the 100-year anniversary since President Woodrow Wilson created the service. As ambassador, Nye focuses on getting the next generation of park goers excited about the parks.
While the parks are on track to host 320 million visitors this year, adults between ages 18 and 35 are less interested in visiting than the rest of the population, said to Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation.
Shafroth said technology has shifted people's focus away from family road trips to the parks. But now, he said the parks want to use technology to bring them back. He said the foundation is increasingly targeting its marketing at millennials.
"One of the reasons we picked [Nye] is he's both an entertainer, but an entertainer with a purpose," Shafroth said. "He's somebody who people trust and respect, so he was a natural fit."
Along with raising awareness for visiting parks, Nye has also been a strong voice for raising awareness about the dangers of climate change. Last week on Twitter, he criticized President-elect Donald Trump's selection of climate-change skeptic Myron Ebell as the future head of the Environmental Protection Agency.
New EPA appointee can deny his brains out. Earth is still warming. https://t.co/PLcEL4w42Z
— Bill Nye (@BillNye) November 23, 2016
Last year, Nye released a book explaining the evidence of climate change and what can be done to slow it. He said visiting parks up-close is one way to see the effects of higher temperatures on the environment.
"I was in Glacier National Park this summer, and there are a lot fewer glaciers than there used to be," Nye said. "The ones that are there are disappearing. Ecosystems are changing, there are more wild fires than there used to be, there are more floods than there used to be, and these are all affecting national parks."
Nye added: "The problem with climate change is that it's happening in slow motion, it's not a readily apparent catastrophe, but it will be. As things get worse and worse, it'll become more and more obvious, the cause and effect."