A word from our winner – Nellie Nilsen

By Nellie Nilsen

I’m going to be completely honest. I have no idea how I ended up with this opportunity, I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m very happy to be here.

Last summer a friend tagged me in a Facebook post from BBC Earth and encouraged me to apply to the BBC Presenter Search 2018. The assignment was easy and hard, make a video shorter than 60 seconds where you talk about something in science you think is cool. Simple concept, but for me it was challenging as I want to talk about bryophytes forever (which is slightly longer than 60 seconds).

So I decided to make an attempt. I was going to make a 60 second video about sphagnum, commonly known as peat moss and uncommonly known as an unsung climate hero. Sphagnum is the plant genus that holds the most carbon in the world, it slowly builds up its carbon storage over hundreds of thousands of years and if undisturbed, they never let go of the carbon they gathered.

Nellie Nilsen
Nellie Nilsen
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Making a short video on this was hard - I wanted to include everything - and then it became even harder as I had no one to hold the camera. I tied my camera to the scrawniest little birch, swaying in the wind as a bird tried to chase me away from the mire. This chaos ended up as the video “Why sphagnum is awesome” on my channel. I submitted the video, but didn’t dare to write in the description section of the video that it was a submission, because I never imagined that I could win!

But I did.

I waited two months before I could tell people that I had won the search, and when the news came out I received the most attention I’ve had in my entire life. I was trying to study for exams, and newspapers kept calling, radio programs wanted interviews and I even got the chance to go on TV!

The fairy-tale didn’t stop there, as I got to go to the BBC offices in London! I had an incredible time bombarding them with things I wanted to make videos on, and in the end we settled on a series about the life cycle of plants!

I went home and started writing, procrastinating, gaining confidence when the writing went smoothly, and questioning if they chose the right person when I got stuck. Luckily the team at BBC supported me the whole way and looking back at the writing process I mostly just had fun.

Writing eventually turned to filming and I was so nervous that I kept forgetting my lines, but my little filming crew consisted of two patient and kind people and soon I was able to deliver the lines and enjoying that I finally got to talk about all the amazing plant facts!

As I’m writing this, the first episode is going up in three days, and I’m nervous. I’m excited to see if people will like it, and if the videos can be a tool for people to get an overview of the plant kingdom because it sure seems like a mess at times. And I’m curious of what people will thing of my way of talking about it, if I get the chance to bring someone joy, or if the series falls in the long line of failed attempts of communicating science.

No matter your background, whether you want to pass the time or pass an exam, I really hope you enjoy the videos!