PS 63-42
ESA SEEDS mentors: The benefits of mentoring

Thursday, August 13, 2015
Exhibit Hall, Baltimore Convention Center
Teresa Mourad, Education & Diversity Programs, Ecological Society of America, Washington, DC
Mark W. Brunson, Department of Environment and Society, Utah State University, Logan, UT
Amy McNulty, Formative Evaluation and Research Associates, Ann Arbor, MI
Karin Tice, Formative Evaluation Research Associates (FERA), Ann Arbor, MI
Desiree Liwosz, Formative Evaluation Research Associates (FERA), Ann Arbor, MI
Frederick Abbott, Ecological Society of America, Washington, DC

ESA's Strategies for Ecology Education, Diversity and Sustainability (SEEDS) relies heavily on ESA members and the community to mentor our students participating in the ESA Annual Meetings and the SEEDS Undergraduate Research Fellowships. In 2013, ESA contracted with independent evaluators from Formative Evaluation Research Associates (FERA) to conduct a survey of SEEDS students and alumni and SEEDS mentors. With input from key informants, FERA designed an online survey that collected both quantitative and qualitative data. This poster highlights the findings of the mentor survey. The survey was distributed to 182 SEEDS mentors who served as a mentor to one or more SEEDS students at an ESA Annual Meeting between 2002-2012 and/or mentored a SEEDS Undergraduate Research Fellow between 2004 and 2013. A total of 77 mentors responded to the survey (42% response rate).

The most common ways that mentors work with SEEDS students include sharing personal experiences related to ecology research, talking about the different pathways to enter ecology, sharing information about educational opportunities in ecology, and discussing graduate school options and a range of ecology-related careers. 


About 15% of mentors have provided mentorship to both Undergraduate Research Fellows and ESA annual meetings.  Most mentors describe themselves as White (66%) which does not reflect the racial and ethnic composition of SEEDS participants. Nearly half are Professors (45%). Other significant occupations are Research Scientists (16%) and Administrator/Managers (9%).  More than have been SEEDS mentors for more than 3 years.

Overall, 88% feel that their work as a mentor has been “very” to “somewhat” valuable to their professional life.  Approximately 16% of mentors (n = 10 of 64) note that SEEDS informs their work with students and helps them continually improve how they reach out and work with others. At least 16% of mentors report that SEEDS has helped them think about and recruit diversity in their teaching, work, and/or research. Mentors also note that they have learned from SEEDS students including gaining a better understanding of the issues students from diverse backgrounds face.

Most mentors agree that they see mentoring SEEDS students as a way to: engage a more diverse group of students in the field of ecology (98%);  diversify the field of ecology (95%); contribute to the field of ecology (97%) ; nurture ESA as a society (87%); and help diversify ESA leadership (85%).