The SEEDS (Strategies for Ecology, Education, Development, and Sustainability) program was initiated when Dan Durret from the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and Dr. Berkowitz (representing both the Ecological Society of America - ESA - and IES) joined forces in 1996 to increase the number of minority undergraduates interested in ecology. This was one of the first collaborative efforts between a scientific professional society and a consortium of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The program was tremendously successful in establishing ecology programs at HBCU's, recruiting a new group of minority students into ecology graduate programs and careers, developing faculty interest, and giving purpose and direction to the work of the ESA in education and diversity issues. Having nurtured the program through its first 6 years, Dr. Berkowitz handed off its operation to the ESA, with continued funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. In 2007, ESA received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mentoring in Science and Engineering for the SEEDS program.
Melissa Jurgensen-Armstrong and Dr. Berkowitz collaborated on a study of the role of SEEDS and other factors in influencing the interest of participating students in ecology and academic career paths, resulting in a recent publication (Jurgensen-Armstrong et al. 2007) and improvements to SEEDS and other programs aimed at retaining student interest in science.
Baltimore Collaborative for Environmental Biology
The Baltimore Collaborative for Environmental Biology (BCEB) engaged diverse students in environmental research and learning, exposing them to career paths in research and academia. Under the leadership of Jane Wolfson of Towson University and supported by an NSF Undergraduate Mentoring in Environmental Biology (UMEB) grant, BCEB gave four cohorts of students two years of research experience in the field. IES Head of Education Alan Berkowitz was a co-director of the project, helping run an annual short-course in environmental biology in Baltimore, providing support to the students through their research experiences, and helping design assessments of student and mentor outcomes.
Research by Jane Wolfson and Towson psychology professor Julie Quimby revealed very interesting insights into the factors that support and constrain interest in environmental biology among the urban, predominantly minority student population served by BCEB (Quimby, J.L., J.L. Wolfson & N.D. Seyala. 2007. Social Cognitive Predictors of African American Adolescents' Career Interests. Journal of Career Development 33(4):376-394).