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The inception of SEEDS may be traced to the efforts of a distinctive group, led by Dr. Barbara Bentley, at the 1993 Women and Minorities in Ecology (WAMIE) workshop who strongly urged ESA to make a commitment to diversity that led to the creation of SEEDS.  We will be forever grateful to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, whose generous gift of  $3.9 m got SEEDS off the ground.   We especially thank Dr. Alan Berkowitz – your work in founding SEEDS has touched many, many lives and will continue to do so into the future!

Enjoy the historical timeline we have put together of the SEEDS program below.



The Women and Minorities in Ecology workshop and report outlined a series of recommendations to engage underrepresented minorities in ecology and in ESA.    



SEEDS was established as a partnership between the Ecological Society of America and the United Negro College Fund, with ESA VP of Education and Human Resources, Dr. Alan Berkowitz, Institute of Ecosystem Studies at the helm.  Major funding for SEEDS came from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation between 1996-2014


Through SEEDS, faculty from seven (7) historically black colleges and universities are given support to participate in curriculum development workshops and attend ESA meetings to develop new ecology course offerings.  SEEDS Campus chapters were born.


Ten (10) HBCUs now participate in SEEDS. 13 students from participating institutions attended the ESA Annual Meeting.


SEEDS sponsored its first national student field trip in April 2001 to Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Eastern Tennessee.


ESA assumed management of SEEDS and has since devoted resources to serving students directly.  


Eight tribal colleges join the SEEDS chapter network, increasing the number of SEEDS chapters to 18. The first SEEDS Special Project Grants were awarded to 10 chapters. The SEEDS Undergraduate Research Fellowship program was created.


ESA SEEDS received its first grant from the National Science Foundation to bring 13 SEEDS students to the ESA annual meeting.



SEEDS was awarded Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) and SEEDS Leadership Meetings were initiated



SEEDS received its first grant award from the National Science Foundation to conduct field trips to LTER sites and other field stations.  SEEDS was recognized with the 2008 American Institute for Biological Science (AIBS) Diversity Leadership Award.


ESA partnered with PI Ryan Emanuel from Appalachian State University and subsequently, North Carolina State University, to engage two SEEDS chapters at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and two other campuses in North Carolina, on a statewide research project on secondary succession funded by the National Science Foundation.


  SEEDS sponsored its first National Coordinated Collegiate Bioblitz with eight chapters participating, led by a SEEDS alumni student, with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


SEEDS launched the Western sustainability initiative with support from the David and Lucille Packard Foundation.  This is the first time SEEDS has developed a regionally focused set of activities that would include a regional leadership meeting, chapter projects, regional field trips and support for students in the region to participate in ESA annual meetings.



The first regional SEEDS field trip was organized to Havasupai Nation located in Western Grand Canyon in Flagstaff, Arizona    

2015 – Happy Birthday ESA!

A partnership with the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program  – a consortium of universities coordinated by the University of Florida brought a record high 47 students to the ESA Centennial meeting.


Learn more about the SEEDS program

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