Northern Arizona University is one of three institutions selected to receive a $1.5 million grant to launch the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program, a major science education initiative funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

NAU, along with the Universities of Washington and Florida, will provide undergraduate students with the opportunity to participate in mentored research activities in conservation biology and other disciplines relevant to land, water and wildlife conservation.

“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,” said Andrew Bowman, Program Director of the Environment Program at DDCF. “The ultimate objective of the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program is to foster an increase in the number of undergraduate students from groups currently underrepresented in the conservation workforce who choose to pursue studies and a career in conservation. To that end, the program will serve students who not only have a budding academic interest in conservation, but are also committed to increasing the diversity of students and professionals in the conservation field.”

Doris Duke logoA key feature of the multi-year program is the opportunity for students to work alongside conservation researchers and professionals who have agreed to serve as mentors. These research experiences and additional activities that feature extensive time outdoors in the Grand Canyon region are designed to inspire students as well as solidify their interest in conservation science and graduate programs that can lead to a career in conservation. Students will also be exposed to career options in conservation, including through interactions with people from underrepresented communities currently working in the conservation field.

NAU’s Landscape Conservation Initiative, partnering with the Grand Canyon Trust and Conservation Science Partners, was selected through a competitive, nationwide process. In response to the DDCF Environment Program’s open invitation for letters of interest, 122 institutions from across the U.S. submitted their concepts and ideas. A small number of full proposals were invited by DDCF and reviewed by experts in conservation education, research and diversity programs. Based on the recommendations of those experts, the foundation awarded the three $1.5 million grants.

“We have developed some incredible opportunities for students by connecting strong science with conservation applications, and it’s really exciting to have the support and recognition that come with this grant,” said Tom Sisk, Olajos-Goslow Chair of Environmental Science and Policy. “We can’t wait to get these bright students out in the field, where they can develop their understanding of science and work creatively to strengthen and diversify the conservation profession.”

The program at NAU includes four essential elements:

  • A five-week summer immersion program that provides exposure to authentic, compelling environmental issues and builds community among the students
  • Annual research experiences with conservation scientists and managers who are enthusiastic about their work and about mentoring young people.
  • Winter conservation workshops on scientific, career, and leadership topics.
  • A strong support network that will help students transition from college to career.

Angie Moline, who brings a decade of experience in outdoor education to the NAU team, said “experiential learning facilitates student engagement in the science of conservation and also gives students the perspective to see how science interfaces with policy and management. This is the most innovative program I’ve been associated with.”

Students seeking information about the program and application process may contact Dr. Sisk (Thomas.Sisk@nau.edu) or Moline (Angie.Moline@nau.edu) directly, or view the program website at http://lci.nau.edu/ddcs.

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The mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is to improve the quality of people’s lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and the prevention of child abuse and neglect, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke’s properties.

For information about the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program at the University of Washington, please contact Dr. Julia K. Parrish at (206) 221-5787 or jparrish@u.washington.edu.  Information is also available at http://coenv.washington.edu/students_new/doris_duke.shtml.

For information about the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program at the University of Florida, Cornell University, University of Idaho, North Carolina State University, and University of Arizona, please contact Dr. John P. Hayes at (352) 392-1784 or hayesj@ufl.edu. Information is also available at http://programs.ifas.ufl.edu/DDCSP/.