The Ecological Society of America SEEDS Program is seeking ESA members and Annual Meeting participants to serve as SEEDS Meeting Mentors for undergraduate students at the 2016 ESA Annual Meeting in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. This year, the SEEDS program will sponsor about 50 students from diverse backgrounds with a demonstrated commitment to the program’s mission. The mentoring program is integral in helping SEEDS nurture student interest in ecology, and ultimately to diversify and advance the field.
What is a meeting Mentor?
If you are matched with a student, your primary role as a meeting mentor will be to help guide your student through the meeting and to share your personal experiences in the field of ecology. You will share your advice, help them select sessions, introduce them to others, explain research being presented, be a familiar face among the thousands. You are also encouraged to attend their presentations at the meeting. A meeting mentor should be active and engaged in ecology bringing with them a positive view of ecology and research while at the same time sensitive to the non-traditional views of science that some students may bring to the meeting.
If matched, your role will begin in late spring when you receive your student’s contact information and they receive yours. SEEDS staff will ask for communication with your student throughout the summer. During this time, you and your student will get to know each other via email and/or phone exchanges. You will also help answer any of their questions or concerns before the meeting.
At the Meeting
Once at the meeting, we ask that mentors meet with their students at least once a day. This daily interaction can be going to a session together, attending a SEEDS or social event, sharing a meal, etc. Mentoring is a lot of responsibility and we want our students to feel welcome, encouraged and treated with respect. Anticipated commitment is about 30-60 minutes per day.
Required for Mentors
To ensure that our students receive the best support, mentors are required to attend four events hosted by SEEDS. Cost of attendance is covered by SEEDS:
We will ask you to complete a brief evaluation via email. If you and your student both wish, we encourage you to continue communication with each other.
Mentors need to be an upper-level graduate student or a professional in the field and have previously attended at least one ESA Annual Meeting. We also ask for the communication detailed above and for attendance at the four required SEEDS events. Please note that we try to match ESA mentor volunteers with students based on common ecology interests. If we are unable to make a match or have more volunteers than student awardees, you may not be selected. Signing up does not guarantee that you will be a meeting mentor.
What do I get as a mentor?
We think Terry Chapin, past ESA President and SEEDS Meeting Mentor, says it best:
“One of ESA’s activities that I value most is the SEEDS Program. I really like working with SEEDS students at the ESA meeting. They are some of the most motivated students I see at the meeting and are really likely to make a difference in the world. I enjoy learning about their plans for school and career and working together to figure out how to navigate the meeting in a way that is fun and useful.“
Registration has closed for the 2016 ESA Annual Meeting – Sign up next year in spring for Portland, Oregon!