Where have we been? Where are we now? Where are we going???

Winslow D. Hansen (ESA SS Chair)                 Josh Scholl (ESA SS Vice-Chair)

Kristin Michels (ESA SS Secretary)                  Kelsey Fisher (ESA SS Treasurer)

Hi all, we are your ESA Student Section stewards for 2015-2016. Our job is to represent your interests within the society and to provide resources that help you grow and flourish professionally. How do we accomplish this?

 Where are we coming from?

Historically, we have provided a number of sessions at the annual meeting including an orientation, networking speed dating, funding workshops, mixers, and a diverse career pathways workshop. We also provide travel grants to support bright students attending the meeting and award a best student paper in ecology to demonstrate the intellectual muscle students bring to ecology.

Where are we now?

The student section has been building a wave of momentum based on past successes and our goal this year is to continue evolving to better support you as students. ESA leadership recognizes the value of our section and has been generous providing us with new financial resources. We hope to capitalize on this by bringing you new exciting opportunities, developing a more consistent and articulate voice within the society, and ensuring the student section will remain a valuable home for ecology students in years to come.

With these goals in mind, the student section leadership conducted a survey of students at the centennial ESA annual meeting in August 2015 to evaluate who our students are, how satisfied they are with the current resources we provide, and what they would like to see in the future from the student section. We received 180 responses. Half of respondents were Ph.D. students, 29 % were MS students, and 21% were undergrads. Students were very interested in learning about and entering into a diverse mix of ecology careers, including federal and state agencies, academic positions focused on research and teaching, respectively, NGOs, and private industry. This year, we would like to begin developing an online bank of career planning resources that will be available on the student section website to our members and we will continue to improve our very popular workshop on this topic at the annual meeting.

Where are we going? The ECOFUTURES Initiative

As we enter our 101st year, we also plan to conduct a very special student section initiative called ECOFUTURES. The section will organize and conduct a “horizon scanning exercise”, in which, we will identify opportunities for innovation in ecology and anticipate barriers that must be overcome as we all work to ensure ecology remains vital and relevant in the 21st century. We will consider what it might mean to be a 21st century ecologist. This initiative will include a widespread solicitation for student input and synthesis through a series of online and in-person workshops with a group of student leaders in ecology. The initiative will culminate in a paper that summarizes our student vision of ecology and serves as a guiding document for the future of the student section. We will look for input from you, so start thinking! We will also be looking for roughly 20 students to participate in the synthesis workshops and coauthor the paper. A call for application will be released this winter, so keep your eyes open.

Our hope is to help the Student Section continue to grow, innovate, and support members as you become ecological leaders. If you have ideas, questions, or critique don't hesitate to contact us. Or better yet - join us! We have open positions for student liaisons. We hope this will be an exciting year for the Student Section and we encourage you to stay tuned. Check in on the website from time to time and spread the word! Read the emails and help us envision our future. We look forward to hearing from you!