The 2017-18 school year has wrapped up at UC Santa Cruz, and we at the Santa Cruz chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology are excited to reflect back on the events we’ve hosted over the past year!
In February, we co-hosted a fundraiser to benefit the Santa Cruz Children’s Museum of Discovery (MOD) with UCSC’s Women in Science and Engineering and the Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay Area subunit of the American Fisheries Society. It was a great opportunity for both members of these university groups and the community to come out to support this wonderful educational resource! East Cliff Brewing donated $160 in proceeds from the evening, in addition to individuals’ direct donations to the MOD.
We also hosted a three-panel discussion series on various topics on diversity in conservation. These panels were funded in part by the UCSC Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies Departments. We are thrilled by the success of these panels, panelists and audience engaged in meaningful and informative discussion during all three events!
Our first panel, “Diversity and Inclusion in Conservation Science,” featured speakers: Rolando Madrid (Director of Programs at SACNAS), Erika Zavaleta (Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology here at UCSC), Justin Cummings (Director of the UCSC Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program). The speakers described their own routes to careers in science and science advocacy, and discussed social and institutional barriers that high school and undergraduate students from underrepresented groups face in pursuing careers in conservation. Matching students with mentors, even when it means from a different field or university, can make a major difference in keeping students interested in conservation in the field.
The second panel, “The Amah Mutsun Tribal Band and Indigenous Stewardship of Landscapes and Natural Resources,” featured speakers Valentin Lopez (Chairman of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band), Rob Cuthrell (Postdoctoral researcher in Anthropology at UC Berkeley), and Rick Flores (Horticulturist and Steward of the Amah Mutsun Relearning Program). Panelists gave a brief history of Amah Mutsun and other Native American groups in the Santa Cruz region and described historic and contemporary Amah Mutsun land stewardship practices. Panelists also discussed the activities and goals of the Amah Mutsun Land Trust and the collaborations the tribe is forming to relearn traditional ecological knowledge and return to their traditional territory to steward Mother Earth as their ancestors once did.
Our third and final panel focused on “Diversity of Careers Within Conservation Biology.” Our panelists included: Gage Dayton (Director of UCSC Natural Reserves), Maddy Pott (Project Manager at Island Conservation), Jen Cole (Senior Project Manager at FishWise). They discussed career opportunities in conservation that span beyond research positions within academia. They also spoke to undergraduates about the importance of gaining experience through
unpaid research opportunities and paid ones, the NSF REU program in particular. As each panelist spoke about their professional experience, the importance of mentoring and developing professional networks emerged.
In the upcoming year, we are excited to announce that we will be partnering with the UCSC Arboretum to host conservation talks aimed at the general public, and look for SCSCB-provided articles on science and conservation in the Arboretum’s quarterly newsletter!