COS 63-9
Does ESA's SEEDS program have any impact?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014: 10:50 AM
Regency Blrm E, Hyatt Regency Hotel
Teresa Mourad, Education & Diversity Programs, Ecological Society of America, Washington, DC
Frederick Abbott, Ecological Society of America, Washington, DC
Amy McNulty, Formative Evaluation and Research Associates, Ann Arbor, MI
Desiree Liwosz, Formative Evaluation Research Associates (FERA), Ann Arbor, MI
Karin Tice, Formative Evaluation Research Associates (FERA), Ann Arbor, MI
Julie A. Reynolds, Biology Department, Duke University, Durham, NC
Mark W. Brunson, Department of Environment and Society, Utah State University, Logan, UT

The mission of ESA’s flagship education program – SEEDS (Strategies for Ecology Education, Diversity and Sustainability) – is to engage undergraduate minority students and diversify the field of ecology through mentoring and peer support in ecology careers.  In 2013, ESA engaged Formative Evaluation Research Associates (FERA) to conduct an independent evaluation of SEEDS from the period 2002-2013. With funding from the National Science Foundation, a survey was administered to 517 SEEDS current and alumni students who participated in at least one of the SEEDS core programs: field trips, leadership meetings, travel awards to the ESA annual meeting and undergraduate research fellowships.

The survey included 1) Outcome measures which studied impacts on students’ education, career choices, community involvement and personal growth; and 2) Formative measures which explored the perceived value of SEEDS components and areas for enhancement and additional support. This presentation will provide summary data on the SEEDS outcome measure with a focus on impacts on community involvement and personal growth and the formative measures of the survey.  The surveys were developed with input from the SEEDS advisory board and staff. A total of 222 SEEDS participants completed the survey (alumni = 161, current students = 61).



About 85% of respondents came from minority populations. 40% of alumni are currently in graduate programs. Overall, 80% - 90% of respondents valued all the core programs and 95% of current students indicated that it is important to have a SEEDS program for undergraduates interested in ecology or related fields.

Among alumni, 66% indicated that SEEDS had substantial impact on their community involvement. This result is even higher among current students at 87%.  More than 80% of all respondents thought that SEEDS had an impact on their personal growth. Open-ended comments revealed that students gained knowledge of the field, leadership skills, confidence and a sense of responsibility.

Among current students, 79% serve in leadership roles since becoming involved in SEEDS. The majority are officers in a club or organization. Among alumni, 26% indicated they are currently in leadership roles mostly at work, serving as a mentor or in local organizations.

Virtually all respondents favored longer term mentoring support, more regional activities and a structured program that connects high school and undergraduate students to ecology related career pathways. A repeated comment was the desire that SEEDS would provide graduate level / early career programs and additional support for SEEDS chapters.