SEEDS 25th Anniversary – A Celebration of a Community

by Teresa Mourad, Director of Education and Diversity Programs, and Fred Abbott-Torres, Diversity Programs Manager

Celebrating the 25th anniversary of a comprehensive program like SEEDS is truly a community affair – so many people have worked so hard to make enriching field experiences happen for students year after year, so many hours of incredible support from mentors, leaders, advisers and resources offered to us through many funders including the National Science Foundation. Today, we want to celebrate by announcing another generous gift from Ms. Vicki Moore for the Henry L. Gholz Field Trip Endowment with the SEEDS 25th Anniversary $25,000 Challenge Match. As of March 2021, we have raised $144,247 toward our goal of $400,000 to support a SEEDS ecological field trip annually in perpetuity. Our short-term goal is to match this challenge by the end of August, 2021. 

SEEDS field trip to Trout Lake LTERAs we look back, we humbly recognize that the roots of this amazing program were founded in the 10 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that participated at its inception. Those early faculty members built ecology courses, and students took part in campus ecology chapters, field trips and ESA Annual Meetings. Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, SEEDS began as a visionary partnership between the Institute of Ecosystem Studies (with Dr. Alan Berkowitz providing leadership in the early days), the United Negro College Fund and ESA. In 2002, ESA assumed management of the program and we began working directly with students including black, indigenous, Latinx and Asian students. Available records through December 2020 show that SEEDS has:

  • Hosted 73 travel experiences for students since 1999
  • Coordinated 1,871 student travel awards for the following amazing trips!
    • ESA Annual Meeting (since 1999): 809 students
    • SEEDS Leadership Meeting (since 2006): 335 students
    • SEEDS National and Regional Field Trips (since 2001): 1,144 students

Our students and alumni consistently share how impactful the program has been on their personal and professional lives and how SEEDS developed their passion for ecology and related careers. SEEDS is like a family for all who participate.

“It was an enlightening experience and one that opened my eyes to a professional future that can happen with the preparations I have, for me that was very beneficial.”

~SEEDS participant, 2021 Leadership Meeting

Beyond our students, the SEEDS program has provided all who have engaged with it the experience and confidence to welcome diversity, see the value of inclusion and hold difficult conversations about race and science. Recently, we have continued to expand our network and partners, and have shared our methods of engagement with several scientific societies and summer programs for students.

Grounded in the community, the program has blossomed and our SEEDS participants have taken their place in academia, nonprofits and agencies, as well as within ESA leadership. With support from our SEEDS Advisory Board members, funders like the National Science Foundation and generous donors like Ms. Vicki Moore and ESA members, SEEDS will continue to thrive to create an impact for many more students, people and programs.

Ms. Moore previously made a major gift in memory of her daughter, SEEDS chapter student leader, Kendra Chan.

We appreciate the many wonderful people who have served on the SEEDS Advisory Board over the years. Our current Advisory Board members are:

Jill Baron, US Geological Survey 
Jorge Ramos, Stanford University
Wilnelia Recart, University of San Diego