SEEDS Leadership Meeting
From February 21-24, 2008 thirty six SEEDS students and alumni leaders gathered at Duke University from all aspects of the SEEDS program, including a strong Chapter representation. The meeting took off with an orientation for a very excited group of SEEDS fellows and mentors (two mentors in person, and four by phone). ESA Vice President of Science Rob Jackson1 led a discussion on mentoring. Mentor Beth Middleton2 cautioned against fatal flaws in getting published, including a lack of logical flow in the manuscript and advised writers to stay in focus from the opening sentence. Helda Morales3, our new mentor from Mexico, stressed the human dimension in ecology as she shared how her research on pest management issues in farming led to incorporating local farmers’ knowledge, policy issues and a multidisciplinary team.
Energy began to build in anticipation of two productive days, in which a variety of opportunities allowed for the leadership torch to be passed and shared among SEEDS participants. Christina Wong4, Jorge Ramos5, and Jeramie Strickland6 gave a joint workshop on the subject of choosing and applying for Master’s programs. Joel Abraham4 and Zakiya Leggett7 continued with a workshop on the challenges associated with pursuing a PhD degree.
The four breakout group discussions that followed were aglow with rich ideas. This opportunity stimulated discussions amongst the group which displayed the participants’ ability to think critically and broadly as leaders.
The SEEDS Chapter Collaboration group, led by Charlee Glenn8, brainstormed ideas to increase chapter recruitment and support of students, such as establishing an online journal. Other possible ways to foster collaboration included working on a long-term multi-chapter SEEDS research project.
Under Raynelle Rino’s8 lead, the exuberant SEEDS Alumni Committee offered to coordinate SEEDS alumni, provide leadership support and serve as “SEEDS ambassadors” at national events. The Anthropogenic Biomes group rose to the challenge of the growing human influence on our landscape for ecological study. Under the leadership of Christina Wong, the group called for dispelling the dualistic misconception of human vs. nature in the public mind.
The SEEDS Education and Outreach Initiative (SEOI) group, led by Lauren McGee10, will build on the success of the 2007 SEEDS-coordinated field trip in San Jose to continue strengthening connections between local environmental groups, schools, and communities at future ESA Annual Meeting sites. This year, SEEDS students are planning an “Ecological Outreach Opportunity (EOO) – “BioBlitz” at the proposed Milwaukee Central Park riparian corridor”. The SEOI committee has secured funding from Project Learning Tree to support this project, and is committed to establishing a long-term impact in Milwaukee through high school SEEDS Chapters!
We were pleased to have SEEDS Chapter Advisors Dr. Joe Fail, Johnson C. Smith University; Dr. Sashi Sabaratnam, Livingstone College; and Dr. Godfrey Uzochukwu, North Carolina A&T University who shared their response to the group reports. A full report on the proceedings will be prepared for publication. Four students volunteered to lead the organization of the article for publication: Antonio Cordero11, Sara Renteria12, Serge Farinas8, and Annette Cardona13.
In addition, participants were introduced to Duke University’s Nicholas School for the Environment and their graduate programs, enjoyed a tour of the campus, and explored Duke Forest with Norm Christensen. The group of inspired SEEDS students also exchanged ideas with Duke ecologists Ariana Sutton-Grier, Chantal Reid, Jim Clark, and Zakyia Leggett as a Nicholas School alumna, during a career panel discussion. ESA Vice President of Education and Human Resources, Meg Lowman14 treated students to a motivating workshop on “Making your Hopes into a Reality”.
This gathering highlighted the energy and resolve of SEEDS leaders who continue to push the barrier of science and outreach. As a result, positive momentum within this group of SEEDS students continues to surge forward as they initiate the change they want to see in the world.
1 Duke University
2 USGS National Wetland Research Center
3 El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR)
4 UC Berkeley
5 University of Washington
6 Iowa State University
7 Weyerhaeuser Corporation
8 Clayton State University
9 San Francisco State University
10 Ohio State University
11 Oregon State University and ESA Intern
12 University of Texas at El Paso
13 Texas A&M, Corpus Christi
14 New College of Florida