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About four years ago at the Ecological Society of America’s Annual Meeting there was a workshop to discuss how ecologists and in particular the ESA could reach out to the communities that they visited each year and in some way provide an opportunity for discussion in terms of ecological education. At that workshop, some SEEDS (Strategies for Ecology Education, Diversity and Sustainability) students decided to take action and formed what would later be called the SEEDS Education and Outreach Initiative (SEOI). The goal of the SEOI committee was to organize and execute a project that would directly benefit the citizens of each community that ESA visited for their Annual Meetings.

The first year, SEEDS students planned a field trip to be held during the 2007 Annual Meeting in San Jose, CA. A class of about 6-7 high school students who happened to be taking a summer Ecology course participated in the field trip. The students along with their teachers met up with the SEEDS students and other field trip participants for a day in the South Bay National Wildlife Refuge, where they experienced hands-on ecology and had the opportunity to speak with professional ecologists about their field of work. The students and their teachers were invited to attend the ESA Annual Meeting, sponsored by generous funding from Project Learning Tree (PLT). The students were so inspired that they went back to their campuses and started working on a variety of ecology related projects. Later the SEOI committee was informed that more PLT funds were available to help start the first ever K-12 SEEDS Chapters.

The 2008 ESA Annual Meeting was held in Milwaukee, WI and again the SEOI committee planned another Field Trip open to high school students and their teachers. To see a video of the 2008 SEOI field trip, click here.

This year, SEOI is planning another field trip during the 2010 ESA Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh, PA. The overall aims of this trip are to: (1) allow ESA members to connect with the local host community of the annual meeting; (2) use the expertise of ESA to aid local community members and scientists to preserve, conserve, and restore an area; (3) leave the community with surveying skills taught by selected ESA members; (4) introduce Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) expertise to field trip participants; and (5) build and/or strengthen connections between local schools and Albuquerque environmental groups, so that similar educational activities can continue beyond this fieldtrip. This is the third trip being organized by the SEEDS Education and Outreach Initiative, a group of students, former SEEDS participants, and SEEDS staff interested in instituting educational outreach activities at ESA annual meetings.

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