Vanguarding an Inclusive Ecological Workforce

From tracking bighorn in the Mojave Desert, to setting camera traps in the central Oregon Cascades, to monitoring estuarine recovery in the Puget Sound, undergraduates in the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Sciences’ (FWCS) new VIEW Fellowship conducted paid research internships across the Pacific Northwest.

VIEW stands for “Vanguarding an Inclusive Ecological Workforce.” The VIEW Fellowship, launched in the summer of 2021 with a stellar cohort of six undergraduates from the College of Agricultural Sciences, is a summer research and mentorship program that supports the professional development of future ecologists from communities that have been excluded historically or are currently underrepresented in our field. The goal is to increase participants’ access to graduate school by helping them attain technical skills and develop a network of professionals who can serve as mentors and references as they embark upon their careers. FWCS especially encourages students without previous experience specific to their desired disciplines to apply, as well as students with significant family obligations, who are first-generation college students, who manage health conditions, or who are eligible to participate in TRIO, CAMP, or LSAMP.

The VIEW Fellowship was founded with an understanding that the fields of conservation and ecology have a history of excluding people from non-dominant groups, resulting in a present-day workforce that is less diverse than the communities we serve. Also, as a relatively small field, relationship-based hiring practices often unintentionally but effectively block access to individuals from first-generation, low socioeconomic status, and underrepresented racial, ethnic, and cultural identity groups, thus perpetuating existing workforce patterns. The VIEW Fellowship aims to disrupt this cycle.

VIEW Fellows participate in 10 weeks of full-time, paid summer research with a FWCS researcher and/or graduate student. Funding for the interns’ full-time summer pay and housing is shared between the Department and the mentoring faculty member. In addition to their research, Fellows engage in social and professional development activities with their cohort throughout the summer, such as resume workshops, behind-the-scenes tours, field days, conferences, and a final presentation. Interested students should look for the application period in winter term of 2022.

Learn more about the 2021 VIEW Fellows on the website, and below:

Jose Torres, a Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences (FW) major, worked with Dr. Clint Epps to conduct field research on bighorn sheep in the Mojave Desert, CA. Jose is a U.S. Navy veteran and avid hiker who aims to serve as a game warden. Jose says, “Thanks to this opportunity, I now feel ready to face whatever challenges may come in the future, including graduate school if I decide to go that route.”

Gisell Anderson, a FW major and Ecampus student, worked on a remote project with Dr. Sandy DeBano on the ecology of Oregon’s native bees. After graduation, Gisell aims to advance conservation education as a bilingual zookeeper. Gisell says, “VIEW has increased my confidence as an Ecampus student and in my identity – it’s given me the opportunity to get connected to OSU and research and reminded me of the bigger picture of bringing representation of my Hispanic community into my career.”

Jose Robles, a FW major, worked with Rachel Crowhurst in elk genetics, and with Dr. Susanne Brander in microplastics in fish. Jose is an avid fly fisherman and practitioner of Jiu- Jitsu.

Vanessa Ramirez, a FW major, worked with Dr. Melanie Davis on a field project in the Nisqually Delta, WA, examining estuarine ecology and brine shrimp. Vanessa enjoys rock climbing and leading outdoor adventure trips.

Samantha Muñoz, a FW major, worked with Dr. Ivan Arismendi on a field project at H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest in the central Oregon Cascades, examining the effects of streams on mammal movements.

Xavier Tacker, a Bioresources Research major, worked with Dr. Fiona Tomás Nash and Dr. Ryan Mueller on the ecology of eelgrass in Coos Bay. Xavier plans to become a research scientist and enjoys Latin percussion centred around Africanisms. Xavier says, “I think that’s very important for young students like myself to get outside of your comfort zone, outside of what you liked. Because who knows? You might like something better.

VIEW 2021 has succeeded thanks to generous financial support by past and current FWCS faculty, the proactive support of our Department Head Dr. Selina Heppell, the program originators, Dr. Dana Sanchez and the 2019 FWCS Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, and the FWCS Internship Coordinator and VIEW program coordinator, Shalynn Pack. We are actively seeking funding to expand the VIEW Fellowship for 2022. Please contact Shalynn Pack or our Department Head, Dr. Selina Heppell, if you’d like to get involved with this growing Fellowship. We hope to hear from you!

Group at Nash Hall

Group photo at H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest

Jose Robles

Jose Torres

Samantha Muñoz

Xavier Tacker

The College of Agricultural Sciences at Oregon State University is Oregon's principal source of knowledge relating to agricultural and food systems, and a major source of knowledge regarding environmental quality, natural resources, life sciences, and rural economies and communities worldwide. The College provides undergraduate and graduate education leading to baccalaureate and graduate degrees, and extended education programs throughout Oregon and beyond. Its research programs create knowledge to solve problems and to build a knowledge base for the future. It is a source of information and expertise in integrating and applying knowledge with benefits that are felt in domestic and international settings.