Earth needs the finest conservation leaders each generation can produce. That means engaging young people from all sectors of society to tackle the challenges of a changing environment.
A diverse environmental workforce is critical to ensure science research, government agencies, and other organizations serve the needs of the nation as a whole. Those from different backgrounds can bring new perspectives to complex environmental justice issues, ensure wiser policy decisions, and serve as a bridge between an increasingly multicultural population and the scientific community.
Yet environmental fields lag far behind other science disciplines in racial and ethnic diversity. Ethnic minorities occupy roughly 12 percent of leadership positions in environmental organizations, while the members and volunteers of those organizations are overwhelmingly white.
The Samuelsen Conservation Scholars Program meets this need by introducing a broad range of students to the joys and rigors of field research. The program funds a summer of independent field research at the living laboratories of the NRS for UC students from underrepresented backgrounds.
The program pairs undergraduates with a UC faculty mentor. Together, students and their mentors formulate a research question and develop a protocol for each study. Over the course of the summer, students master field techniques and practice critical thinking. At reserves, they meet fellow researchers, exchange scientific knowledge over meals and hikes, and gain a taste for life in the field sciences. At the end of the summer, students write up their research in the format of a scientific article and present a lecture about their study at a symposium open to the public.
Honoring the first director of the NRS, J. Roger Samuelsen, the program is modeled on the National Science Foundation’s highly successful Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. Program funds help cover student lodging at reserves, meals, travel, and research supplies, plus a stipend.
By bringing greater diversity to conservation science, your support helps focus the nation’s best minds on environmental issues.