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ESA awarded new SEEDS grant

July 07, 2004

Thanks to a new two-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Ecological Society of America will be able to continue its highly successful SEEDS program (Strategies for Ecology Education, Development and Sustainability) and soon add exciting new components to the program's structure.

"We are looking forward to meeting our goal of building a grassroots movement of ecologically knowledgeable students who have traditionally been underrepresented in the ecology profession," says ESA President William Schlesinger. "And just as importantly, we will engage a larger portion of our membership in recruiting and mentoring underrepresented students." Specifically, this new phase of SEEDS will expand existing activities designed to reach out to African American, Latino, and Native American students. The program areas that will be continuing include: student and faculty travel awards for the ESA Annual Meeting; a SEEDS undergraduate research fellowship; Campus Ecology Chapters; and student field trips. For example, 30 undergraduate students, 6 graduate students, and 20 faculty members will receive travel awards to attend the Society's scientific conference in Portland, Oregon this August. Students will be teamed with mentors to maximize their experience at the meeting of 4,000 ecological scientists.

The SEEDS undergraduate research fellowship program will be expanded under the new grant to include a series of workshops on the essentials of conducting ecological research. "Through the Fellowship, up to ten students will participate in field work at a research institution, field station, or national laboratory and will ultimately present their research at the Society's Annual Meeting," explains ESA Education Director Jason Taylor.

SEEDS student field trips will also continue into the next phase of the program. SEEDS offers two field trips a year to ecologically relevant sites. Approximately 25 students attend each field trip where they meet with ecologists and learn about various types of ecological research and participate in activities that inform them about careers in ecology.

Campus Ecology Chapters make up another component of the program. Currently, over 400 students participate in 18 chapters at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Tribal Colleges. The new grant will expand the network to 30 schools, providing students and faculty with funds for research projects and professional development.

New aspects of the program will include post-graduate work opportunities and the addition of a SEEDS Coordinator to the ESA-managed program. The Coordinator will be a SEEDS alum, something Taylor believes will provide an added benefit to the overall program.

-end-

The SEEDS program began in 1996 as a collaborative effort to work towards increasing the number of minorities in the field of ecology. SEEDS has stimulated interest among minorities in pursuing ecology, provided professional development to aid science faculty in creating new ecology offerings, and taken new steps to increase cultural diversity within the Ecological Society of America. For more information on the SEEDS program visit: http://www.esa.org/seeds/.

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