By Brock Couch, ESA Science Committee Liaison
Last year, I remember sitting in my first Student Section Meeting at the 2015 Annual ESA conference in Sacramento, not really knowing what was happening, and thinking, “How have I never heard of this organization before?” As I sat there, talks of elections began and I knew I had to be a part of it. So being the newly inspired member that I was, I asked what position would be a good fit for someone new and that is when I became introduced to the Science Committee.
I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to meet in person with the Science Committee members at a committee meeting in Washington D.C.. Before even arriving, I was nervous and worried that I did not know enough about the committee. In fact, I had no idea what the Science Committee was, or did, when I first became the Science Committee Liaison. So the whole plane ride there, I was thinking to myself, “At least I get to go to Washington D.C.”
Once at the meeting, I felt foolish for being so nervous. Everyone was so helpful and nice and I never once felt out of place as the new guy. Also, at the meeting I finally discovered just how many things the Science Committee deals with. For example, they work with stakeholders, identify trends in science , and conduct activities at the Annual ESA meeting. At one point in the meeting, there were so many acronyms of organizations that were being thrown around that I felt English had become the second language. After stakeholders were discussed, we moved onto future events the committee would like to see at the next ESA meeting. For most of the meeting I had been quiet, just trying to keep up with what was being said, but now was my time to voice my opinion.
I was mentally preparing myself with what I was going to say in order for them to consider my event. We split of into groups and, right as soon as we sat down, they asked me what I would like to see at the next meeting. I was a little surprised that they asked me so quickly, but still, I told them that I thought providing a workshop geared towards teaching undergraduates and early professionals how to write scientific papers and grants would be great. They all thought for a second and agreed that it would be beneficial. There I am thinking, where is my “That Was Easy” button? That mentality of truly listening to what I was thinking and what students could bring to ESA was not the exception, but the norm. Because of that mentality, I truly felt like I was just as important to them as everyone else and that is why I can honestly say that the Science Committee is operating in the best interests of the Student Section. Personally, this experience has given me a behind the scenes look at the kind of work that it takes to run successful organizations, such as focusing on your main stakeholders. It has also allowed me to see what trends we need to look to as the cutting edge of science.
So if you are thinking of joining a committee, but are not really sure what it is all about, I am here to tell you: Take the leap! because, you never know, you may land somewhere great.
Brock Couch is a senior majoring in Zoology and Wildlife Conservation at Missouri Western State University. Brock has been a member of the ESA since 2014.