SEEDS is thrilled to welcome three new schools to the SEEDS Chapter family! We re-welcome Oakwood University, who participated with SEEDS in it's original phase from 1997 - 2001! A big welcome to the University of Vermont and their Rubenstein School Diversity Task Force. And finally, we welcome our 4th SEEDS Chapter in our island neighbor Puerto Rico at the Universidad Metropolitana (SEEDS-Atabey). You can read the goals of these new Chapters below, and be sure to check out the alumni highlight in this newsletter where alumni Zack Brym tells us how we can get the Chapters working together!
Oakwood University SEEDS Chapter
The Oakwood University Ecology club strives to gain an understanding of our environment and our place in it while becoming more actively, physically and spiritually involved with nature. Our goal is to promote ecological awareness on Oakwood’s campus and to the surrounding communities. We seek the improvement of the natural environment and provide a service to our community by teaching others what we have learnt.
Plans for 2010
- Start the West Oaks and Annex apartments Recycling Program
- Start Ecology Club with Oakwood Academy
- Plan Earth Day, April 2010
Nicole Frazier, Student Highlight
Ecology is not only about saving the environment through service, but also about finding new ways to protect and enhance the environment through research. Currently, Nicole Frazier, a Biomedical Science major Oakwood University, is conducting research through the SEEDS Program at Alabama A & M. Her research includes studying the effects of the reniform nematode on the tomato plant. Tomatoes, which account for over a billion dollars in U.S. economic consumption, are being destroyed through the reniform nematode, a semi-endoparasitic organism. Her research includes finding and creating a tomato plant that will be resistant to the reniform nematode, as well as creating some type of detection device for the early discovery of reniform nematodes that will be readily accessible to the everyday farmer. Her research involves certain techniques, such as DNA isolation and analysis, PCR, seed extraction, and gene analysis.
University of Vermont Diversity Task Force/SEEDS Chapter
The Rubenstein School is committed to enhancing the understanding of the natural world in ourselves and our constituents through full inclusion of the unique and valuable perspectives reflected by diverse peoples.
The Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont has engaged in programs designed to educate students, faculty, and staff about multicultural issues and perspectives as they relate to natural resources and the environment. This includes work of The Rubenstein School Diversity Task Force.
The Rubenstein School Diversity Task Force (DTF) was created in 1991. It is a volunteer group of faculty, staff, and students who are committed to issues of diversity and creating a welcoming community. The DTF generates and contributes to the development of ideas for diversity initiatives in curricular and other programming in The Rubenstein School. The DTF Sponsors and hosts diversity-related events and speakers.
Additional activities include funding for scholarships to multicultural students at the undergraduate and graduate levels; curriculum transformation; collaboration with other university organizations like the ALANA (African-, Latino/a-, Asian- and Native-American) Student Center; recruitment and retention efforts.
To learn more about the Rubenstein School Diversity Task Force, go to: www.uvm.edu/envnr/?Page=diversity/default.html
RSENR Diversity Task Force Plans for 2010
- Host an ESA SEEDS Infosession
- Develop partnership with Shades of Ebony, an academic support program for students of color at Burlington High School.
- Organize a community-wide service event for the Martin Luther King Day of Service
- Host breakfast the UVM ALANA Student Center
- Host the annual Multicultural Dinner
- Launch the “I am Rubenstein” Campaign & Community Forum that will showcase photographs/interviews with diverse cross-section of RSENR students as a way of breaking down stereotypes and building community.
- Attend the Ecological Society of America 2010 Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh, PA August 2009
SEEDS-Atabey: Ecology Chapter at Universidad Metropolitana, San Juan, Puerto Rico
ATABEY, meaning ‘‘Mother Earth’’ in the Taino language from Puerto Rico’s long-deceased Indian population, is a chapter focused on giving the students the opportunity to participate in outdoor activities which can help them connect to Nature and the different ecosystems our island has to offer. Our objective is to get the students out of the classroom and inspire them to love the Ecology behind every natural process which could have been learned theoretically in science classes. It is through this way, they can associate to theory and realize that understanding and preserving our natural resources is very important for enjoyment. Most of our students are freshmen, which at the same time let us help build up their careers with actual ecological activities which draw them to environmental and biological careers. They also bring friends and students from other disciplines, who get motivated by the Chapter and by science-motivated careers. Our Chapter is mostly sub aquatic-oriented; in the island coral reefs are threatened by diseases and climate change and we are encouraging our students to see them and learn about them so they can educate other students and their families about it.
So far we’ve certified the Chapter as an official University Association and we have almost 30 active members, all from different majors. Between our activities, we’ve given a talk to first graders (Francisco Matias Lugo Elementary School, Carolina, Puerto Rico), we’ve given a coral reef talk in our University, a massive Snorkeling Activity on a Marine Reserve and we’ve participated with The Sierra Club and the Northeast Ecological Corridor Coalition on it’s camping and Bioblitz (Atabey participated mostly at the marine survey). For the upcoming year our main goal is to keep promoting the chapter presence at the University and prepare our activities such as: planting and restoration of a Coastal Mangrove Forest (Cerrillos Forest, Ponce, Puerto Rico), participate on a camping/sea turtle night watch, a Speleology/Caves Workshop and field-trip bythe Speleological Organization of Puerto Rico, kayaking on the bioluminescent bay (Fajardo, Puerto Rico) and on April the big birthday celebration of GAIA (mother earth) at the University. All of these, with the purpose of keep our active group and make other students interested on our chapter main objectives.
Ecology Club- Wilbur Wright College
Plans for 2009-2010
- Recruit more members.
- Celebrate Earth Day.
- Visit Bird Collection at the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago- to observe specimens and learn ecological aspects of extinct and rare bird species.
- Participate in Nest Predation Research at the Cook County Forest Preserve.
- International Research Experience for Students (IRES) - 5 week Summer Field Course (summer 2010): 4 members’ travel to Kenya and work with mentors to conduct Wildlife Research. IRES is funded by National Science Foundation (NSF) Office of International Science and Engineering (OISE).
- Members give presentations at the 21st Annual Argonne Symposium for Undergraduates in Science, Engineering and Mathematics.
- Members give presentations at the 95th ESA Annual Meeting.
“International Research Experience (US-Kenya): Effects of habitat changes on distribution, abundance and resource exploitation by forest specialist birds in Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, Kenya” Special Project
Each year for three summers (2010-2012), four undergraduates and one research mentor will travel to Kenya to conduct field research in a tropical forest. The purpose of this project is to tap into the talent and diversity of Wright College undergraduate students and individually mentor potential scientists and encourages them to pursue ecology and environmental sciences as a future lifelong career. The project engages and train undergraduate students into applied ecological research by investigating how habitat alterations affect bird communities in Arabuko-Sokoke Forest. Arabuko-Sokoke Forest in coastal Kenya ranks second as the most important forest for bird conservation in mainland Africa. The 270 bird species known from it include six globally threatened, three near-threatened species, eight species categorized as regionally threatened in eastern Africa and several other forest-specialist birds. Both threatened and forest specialist birds show preference for certain habitat types. However, Arabuko-Sokoke Forest is under severe pressure due to selective logging, pole harvesting for building, fuel wood collection and unplanned tourism activities. These activities have different impacts on the forest and have the potentials of altering the forest structure and negatively affect forest birds including other biodiversity within the forest. The objective is to examine how these habitat modifications relate to the distribution, abundance and resource exploitation by rare bird species and forest specialist birds that occur in Arabuko-Sokoke forest.
Specifically, students and mentors will use census data, mist netting and the foraging behavior observations to determine the environmental and ecological factors that either promote the success or threaten the survival of these species. During the project, the students would also get the opportunity to interact with friendly surrounding local communities and conservation groups through guest lectures and field work. This project will provide students with opportunity for self discovery through “hands-on” training in field ecology that includes, field preparations, experimental designs, data collection and analysis, writing and research presentation in workshops, conferences and relevant scientific publications. The data from this research would also provide the required information for the long-term conservation of the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest. This International Research Experience for is funded by National Science Foundation (NSF) Office of International Science and Engineering (OISE).