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2022 Candidate Drew Rayburn

Drew RayburnDrew Rayburn
Director of Conservation Science and Planning
The Nature Conservancy in Colorado

Candidate for: Member of the Board of Professional Certification

I am a conservation ecologist whose work focuses on applying principles of spatial, landscape, community, and restoration ecology to connect ecological patterns and processes across spatiotemporal scales. I currently serve as the Director of Conservation Science and Planning for The Nature Conservancy in Colorado, in which capacity I focus on landscape-scale, climate-resilient conservation strategies. Prior to joining TNC in 2020, my career has included postdoctoral research at the University of California Davis, a stint as the Director of Science for a large restoration-focused NGO in California, private-sector consulting, and serving as the Natural Resources Supervisor for a large county open space park system on the Colorado Front Range. I received my PhD (Ecology) from Utah State University in 2011, my MS in (Ecology) from Iowa State University in 2006, and my BA in (Biology) from Austin College in 2001. I share my work widely through peer-reviewed and non-technical publications, workshops, regional and national conferences, and social media. I have sixteen first-author and nine additional co-authored peer-reviewed publications, many of which have included student co-authors. Since 2016, I have served as an Associate Editor for the journal Ecological Restoration. I am also a past Board member of various nonprofit organizations including the California Native Grasslands Association (CNGA), and the former editor of the CNGA journal Grasslands. In addition, as I discuss below, I am both a Certified Senior Ecologist (ESA) and a Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner (Society of Ecological Restoration). Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to work closely with, and learn from, numerous supportive colleagues from diverse backgrounds without whom I would not have been able to advance in this challenging field.

What interests, experience or skills would you bring to this position?

I have been an ESA member since 2004; I became a Certified Ecologist in 2012, and a Certified Sr. Ecologist in 2017. I have also been a Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner (SER) and a SER Certification Committee member since 2017, in which capacity I have reviewed 130+ applications. In addition, I have mentored employees and colleagues successfully through both ESA and SER’s certification processes. More generally, I am passionate about supporting students and early-career professionals, and maintaining that support over the life of careers. A focus on mine is non-academic career paths, as my own career has been unique in that I have held ecological science positions in all four primary sectors (academia, government, private consulting, and NGO). This experience, in addition to my commitment to DEIJ principles, will help me provide equitable and inclusive ESA certification application reviews, as it has during the five years I have served in a similar role for SER.

How would you support ESA’s mission? How would you plan to promote DEIJ in ESA membership and activities if elected?

I share ESA’s mission of advancing the science and practice of ecology, and supporting ecologists throughout their careers. I was fortunate to have exceptional mentors, such as my MS advisor Dr. Lisa Schulte Moore, and in turn I prioritize supporting students and both early-career and transitioning scientists on their career paths. I support ESA’s 2021 formation of the Diversity Committee and the acceleration of related work across the organization, and indeed TNC is on a similar journey of learning. I recognize that western science, and specifically ecological science in the U.S., has been historically exclusionary and unwelcoming to many people and groups. I am proud to be a past and present member of diverse, interdisciplinary teams and I am committed to supporting ESA’s ongoing efforts to meaningfully address DEIJ through my service on the Board of Professional Certification. In addition to DEIJ, it is critical that ESA and the scientific community continue to broaden our meaningful engagement with Tribal Nations and other Indigenous communities to understand and apply traditional ecological knowledge and other ways of knowing to complex conservation challenges. If elected, I will commit to equitable and inclusive consideration of certification applications, as I have done for SER.