by Kathleen Weathers, ESA President
It’s rather remarkable to realize that it was almost two months ago that we were immersed in the grand experiment of an all-virtual annual meeting. While there were certainly some hiccups along the way, the staff and meetings committees did a remarkable job making an 180o pivot with panache, as did meeting attendees. With almost 4,000 registrants from 53 countries, we were launched into new ways of communication. The virtual platform has allowed us to rethink how we can actively increase open communication, access, and inclusion from a diversity of perspectives of ESA attendees. Donations to the Opportunity Fund from many loyal ESA supporters enabled us to support many meeting attendees through virtual registration grants, which increased access to and participation in the biggest ecological science event of the year.
During this past year’s fundraising campaigns, ESA members made nearly 900 contributions totaling more than $87,500, which included:
- 283 donations to the Henry L. Gholz SEEDS Field Trip Endowment, contributing $45,000 to support the entry of underrepresented students into ecology careers
- An additional $13,000 donated directly to SEEDS
- More than 250 contributions—totaling $28,000—to the Fund for the Future and Opportunity Fund, which enabled ESA to support the virtual Annual Meeting participation of 129 ecologists
- 46 student registrations supported by the Les Real and Jim Brown Student Travel Award
Your contributions help us to extend opportunities for career growth and access to valuable scientific content. While we look ahead to next year’s Annual Meeting, which is likely to be virtual, at least in part, and as we identify ways to make our science and Society more inclusive and equitable, we ask you to consider supporting these ever-important ESA funds.
The easiest way to support is to add a contribution when you renew your membership for 2021. The final page of the membership form includes several donation options, from specific awards to SEEDS. By contributing to the Opportunity Fund, you help us to allocate funds to the programs where they’re most needed in our work to advance ESA’s strategic plan. You can also opt to join as a contributing member, which adds unrestricted revenue which the Governing Board can direct to where it is needed most.
With your help, the Society can continue to evolve and grow, further the creation and application of ecological knowledge, and support ecologists throughout their careers.