In mid-September of 2013, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) announced $4.5 million in grants to launch the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program at universities around the country, including a $1.5 million grant to the University of Florida for a partnership with institutions across the U.S., including the University of Arizona.
At the University of Arizona, the program is located in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment, and led by William Mannan, Professor and Chair, Wildlife and Fisheries Resources Program, as well as Scott Bonar, Unit Leader of the Arizona Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and Associate Professor in the Wildlife and Fisheries Resources Program. The five undergraduate students from the school that were selected to participate in the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars program are Christina Perez, graduate student mentor, Sierrane Gatela, Houston Harris, Vanessa Springer, Alexandra Wilcox and Sandy Marin.
This program will provide the students with training and mentored research activities in conservation biology and other disciplines relevant to land, water and wildlife conservation. The students will also be exposed to career options in conservation and will network with natural resource professionals, including those from underrepresented communities.
Already the students have travelled to the National Conservation Training Center in West Virginia for a weeklong conservation and leadership skills workshop. They had the opportunity to meet and network with fellow Doris Duke Conservation Scholars from the four other participating institutions – the University of Florida, North Carolina State University, Cornell University and the University of Idaho. Additionally, they met with policy makers and explored conservation careers in the nation's capital and learned valuable field and leadership skills utilizing both the indoor and outdoor classrooms of the National Conservation Training Center.
The goal of the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars program is to develop long-term, sustainable educational programming to increase the number of undergraduate students from groups currently underrepresented in the conservation workforce who choose to purse studies and a career in conservation. The University of Arizona program is a collaborative effort between the School of Natural Resources and the Environment and the USGS Arizona Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit.
Andrew Bowman, director of the Environment Program at DDCF, said: "More than ever the conservation field needs to increase its efforts to attract, train and employ individuals from communities that today are largely absent from the conservation workforce."More Information