PS 82-91 - Methods of SEEDS dispersal in the North Texas prairie

Friday, August 12, 2011
Exhibit Hall 3, Austin Convention Center
Jennifer M. Bailey, Biology, University of North Texas, Denton, TX, Christopher B. Anderson, Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford, CA, David J. Hoeinghaus, Department of Biological Sciences, University of North Texas, Denton, TX and Alexandria K. Poole, Dept. of Politics, Philosophy and Legal Studies, Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, PA

The Ecological Society of America (ESA) was established in 1915 as a tool for uniting individuals within early ecology.  In 1996, the ESA began a campaign to attract fresh perspectives by establishing the Strategies in Ecology Education, Diversity and Sustainability (SEEDS) program with the mission to “diversify and advance the profession of ecology by promoting opportunities that stimulate and nurture the interest of underrepresented students.”

 Fledgling SEEDS chapters must translate this mission to serve their specific student population, while creating a unique identity to distinguish themselves from other established campus affiliations.  As one of the newest SEEDS chapters since January 2011, Students Promoting an Environmentally Aware Campus (SPEAC) at the University of North Texas is tackling this obstacle along with a host of methodological challenges.  These hurtles include drawing an enduring and diverse member base, creating community interest and designing and fulfilling a meaningful niche on campus.

 To set itself apart from other established campus organizations, SPEAC will pursue an interdisciplinary approach to ecology by building diverse membership, creating collaborative projects with other academic departments, and exploring the humanities’ ecological role while building interpersonal and professional bonds across academic divides.   

By reaching out to advisors from ecology, philosophy, anthropology, art and other academic perspectives underrepresented in ecology to discuss what our disciplines have in common, we have begun to set long and short term goals in various avenues of growth to approach our organization’s aspirations incrementally.


An atmosphere of blooming interdisciplinary partnerships is enabling our new chapter to develop a unique identity and attend diverse activities such as philosophy lectures, trash-walks, and documentary screenings. Plans are underway with the Art department for collaborative summer projects exploring botanical illustrations and relationships between ecological function and aesthetics.  In addition, partnerships with graduate students from a genetics lab at UNT have culminated in several bird watching trips. SPEAC partnerships within the sciences solidified with UNT’s first BioBlitz hosted by SPEAC officers and taxonomy experts representing various science departments.   This was our most successful and celebrated event, and has created momentum that will ensure a lasting presence on the UNT campus.  SEEDSNet and Facebook have been useful for communication among members and between chapters, while local educational collaborations and exposure to the superb opportunities SEEDS has to offer have helped to define the professional development within the organization and distinguish it from the numerous environmental activist organizations at UNT.

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