*** UPDATE: We have now partnered with MEOPAR’s Fathom Fund, who will quadrupole our crowdfund once we reach our goal! If we raise $12,500 or more from donors like you, Fathom Fund will contribute $37,500. ***
Led by Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) graduate students at Dalhousie University, Diversity of Nature is an initiative aimed at empowering BIPOC students at both the secondary and post-secondary level.
This program will provide an immersive week-long ecological field expedition (August), as well as in-school workshops (Sept-June) that will work to empower, inspire and engage BIPOC secondary students *free of cost*, with the goal of increasing BIPOC representation within STEAM, especially Ecology. Because our leaders are comprised of BIPOC graduate students, it allows secondary BIPOC students to see themselves reflected in leadership positions, as well as allows our graduate students to take on leadership positions in their chosen fields.
As women of colour, we have noticed firsthand that as we continue to climb the academic ladder, the diversity of our cohort continues to diminish. Ecology-based field courses we have taken as students or taught as instructors were especially lacking in BIPOC representation, which is a shame as these experiences were foundational in solidifying our love for ecology and the sciences.
We strongly believe that one of the most effective ways to increase BIPOC representation throughout STEAM is to create accessible opportunities as early as possible (i.e. before the post-secondary level). As such, we have created this initiative so that we can give BIPOC secondary students from marginalized backgrounds the opportunity to explore nature and develop their love for ecology first-hand.
Diversity of Nature leverages the skills of graduate student BIPOC scientists, faculty members and our partners at Imhotep’s Legacy Academy, SuperNOVA, and the Dalhousie SEASIDE program.
Our field expedition will take place at the Harrison Lewis Coastal Discovery Centre and is comprised of a series of immersive educational workshops focusing on various ecological concepts including Coastal Ecology, Ornithology, Herpetology, Botany, Microbial Diversity, and Scientific Illustration. We aim to provide a wide range of ecology-based experiences in the form of graduate student-led workshops, interspersed with student-led inquiry and exploration of natural sites.
Our in-school workshops will leverage the expertise of our BIPOC graduate students specializing in ecology, and will change annually depending on our volunteers’ interests. We will focus on schools with a high representation of BIPOC students, specifically targeting Black and Indigenous communities.
This fund will allow 15 BIPOC secondary school students to attend our ecological field expedition each year for the upcoming three years. It will also allow us to carry out 8 in-school workshops per year for the upcoming three years.
We are excited to create a long-term program that will actively encourage BIPOC students to pursue ecology and the sciences, and allow students to access enriching nature and science experiences, free of cost.
More information can be found at our website: www.diversityofnature.com
I have read about related BIPOC natural science initiatives elsewhere, how they can influence people/institutions, science and science culture, and so was very happy for Nova Scotia when I found out about Dalhousie's Diversity of Nature program (AND the program includes a coastal ecology workshop).
As a fellow ecologist, I have been looking to support an initiative to help bring more BIPOC into the field, and this project is absolutely fantastic and truly exciting. Very excited to support you, and wish you all the best!