PS 1-27 - Preparing diverse students in our Nation’s west to lead sustainable communities

Monday, August 8, 2011
Exhibit Hall 3, Austin Convention Center
Melissa Armstrong, Education, ESA, Washington, DC and Colleen A. Cooley, Ecological Society of America, Flagstaff, AZ

The Colorado Plateau and California region of the Western US embrace some of our nation’s most famous natural landscapes on massive expanses of tribal, public, and private lands.  Indeed, in this region are located, the greatest concentrations of national parks, national monuments, protected wilderness areas and areas that bear a rich historical and cultural importance in the country.  This reality urgently calls for the preparation of a diverse and motivated generation of stewards skilled in understanding, managing, and sustaining the ecological and societal changes sweeping the region.   Conservation efforts require the recognition of the interplay between social and ecological change.   In 2010, the SEEDS program launched a program to promote leadership and collaboration among students in the west who are underrepresented in the environmental sciences, joining the forces of culturally-rich diverse communities in the sustainability of equally diverse and incredible landscapes. 


SEEDS held its first ever regional leadership meeting, with focus on the west.  Forty students and advisors of Chapters in the Colorado Plateau and California participated in the meeting.  With the project’s focus on sustainability, staff partnered with local NGOs, other Societies, and government agencies.  The result was diversity beyond even what SEEDS is used to.  Chapters created ambitious sustainability projects to carry out in their home communities, which included a twin ecological and cultural focus.  Another result of this project is the building of a strong student network in the west, with capacity for students to continue interacting through visits to one another’s Chapters, and on-line via SEEDSNet.

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Banner photo by Flickr user greg westfall.