The State of our Society (ESA, that is)

Program Chair Scott Franklin and ESA President Sunny Power at the Opening Plenary and
Program Chair Scott Franklin and ESA President Sunny Power at the scientific plenary and ESA Awards session.

This post was contributed by ESA’s Director of Public Affairs, Nadine Lymn.

At the start of this morning’s Scientific Plenary & ESA Awards Session, ESA President Alison “Sunny” Power gave her State of the Society address. Much like the U.S. presidential “State of the Union,” this address talks about where the society is now and where it’s headed.

Power started by noting what a “wild ride” the last year had been for society at large as well as for individual ESA members feeling the effects of the economic times.  Many of us know people who have lost their jobs and many of us can personally relate to university furloughs, she said.  But Power also pointed to the exciting parts of the “ride” , especially the arrival of a new Administration that values science and the reality of several ecologists now serving in key positions within the Administration-among them, John Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy, Jane Lubchenco, Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Kit Batten, Science Advisor to the Under Secretary of the Department of Interior.

These appointments present an exciting opportunity for ecological scientists to play critical roles in shaping policy, said Power.  And they have their roots in the Society’s long history of involvement in public policy.  She pointed to the very first meeting of the Society and its first President, Victor Sheldon.  Even back in 1915, many in the Society believed strongly in applying their science to policy issues of the day, such as land preservation.  That ecological scientists continue their involvement in public policy is important and appropriate, said Sunny.  Today–when society at large faces a myriad of environmental issues–offers more opportunities than ever to do so.