As I’m sure you know by now the Ecological Society of America (ESA), largely due to the success of the SEEDS program, just won the 2006 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Engineering and Mathematics Mentoring (PAESMEM). This is a great honor to the Society, as it is the highest award for science mentoring in the country. It’s been a long journey and a great many people, including the leadership and staff (particularly Katherine Hoffman and Melissa Armstrong) of ESA deserve a great round of applause.
A challenging aspect of an award like this is to ensure that the accomplishments of the grassroots participants are recognized. I firmly believe that it is through the everyday actions of ESA members and SEEDS students that make the program what it is today. You are the ones who work hard, who donate time, who overcome shyness, who push cultural barriers, who cry and laugh. Each and every participant of the SEEDS program over the past 10 years deserves to take a moment, sit back, reflect and revel in this wonderful acknowledgement of your efforts.
While we were receiving the award, I was asked what the ultimate outcome of success was in a mentoring program. I didn’t hesitate to say that it is when a participant takes what they have learned and gives a piece of it back to their community. For all of those who have participated in SEEDS over the past decade, this is the perfect time to seize what you learned and give back. What can you do, right now, to help mentor someone? Is it visiting a k-12 to act as a role model? Is it walking into your Deans office and asking for more mentoring support?Â Or is it just a random act of kindness to a colleague or peer. Whatever it is, wherever you are, you can do something! It was through everyday actions that this program became strong and it will be from each of you giving back that it will make a difference.
Another vehicle to share your wisdom is to respond to this blog posting with memorable mentoring experiences that you have had through the SEEDS program.
For those who have already passed through the program, be proud that you were part of creating something great; for those just starting, welcome to the family!
Contributed by Jason Taylor, Utah Society for Environmental Education (and former Education Director, Ecological Society of America)