I sit here finally home after a very long summer of incredible experiences. One of the most amazing experiences was coordinating and participating in the first ever Educational Outreach field trip at the ESA Annual Meeting. The field trip was composed not only of ESA members but also high school students and teachers from the San Jose local community. This amazing student initiative was put forth by an incredible group of SEEDS students who wanted to stop talking about education outreach and just DO IT!
On August 5th, 2007 we DID IT!! After a year of planning and organizing we were able to achieve our goal and much more. I was the lead organizer for this initiative and I have to say that it was an experience that I recommend to any person that wants to get involved with education and outreach. It was extremely rewarding. I learned how to organize people and ideas even when we were many miles from each other (I live in Puerto Rico while the other coordinators were in DC, New Jersey, San Francisco and traveling to China, Honduras, and Mexico â€“ moving around as undergraduates do). In addition, we did not meet our San Jose teachers and students until the week before the ESA meeting. Planning an event at distance is a challenge, but not an insurmountable one.
This was my first experience organizing such a big activity for an ESA Annual Meeting. Some times it was a little bit overwhelming because I thought,â€¦â€What am I doing? I am only an undergraduate student with no name, rank or moneyâ€, however whenever these thoughts came to my mind there was Melissa Armstrong, SEEDS coordinator, to help me through my dilemmas and confusions. One of the reasons that the field trip was such a success was the complete and steady support of the SEEDS family. The SEEDS family includes staff, but also current and past fellowship students, alumni mentors and ESA member mentors.
During our field trip, ESA members were able to participate directly with high school students from Wilcox High School and middle school and high school teachers. We had a total of 29 participants in the field trip: 8 high school students, 2 teachers and 19 ESA members composed of undergraduate, graduate students and professional ecologists. The purpose of the field trip was to expose high school students to the wonderful world of ecology through hands-on research experience. At the same time exposing ESA members to education outreach during the ESA Annual Meeting. The location was the Don Edwards San Francisco National Wildlife Refuge. We conducted both indoor and outdoor activities that focused mainly on the importance of conservation and restoration of urban wetlands. We also obtained outside funding from Greenworks to sponsor ESA meeting registration for the San Jose teachers and students. Many SEEDS students pitched in to mentor the high school student during the ESA meeting to ensure they were supported during such a large meeting. This experience worked so well because first we went out to the locals and met them on their turf, and then we invited them into ESA meeting land after our relationship had been established.
We did it. We reached out in 2007 and we are going to keep doing it in the future. The Student Education Outreach Initiative group is already in the planning stages for ESA Annual Meeting 2008 at Milwaukee, Wisconsin. If you are interested in learning more about our group and would like to participate in next yearâ€™s education outreach field trip please write to me at email@example.com.
Hope to see you all next year,