Back in April (and like so many others) we were crushed about having to cancel Conservation Science Intensive (CSI), a residential summer immersion program that has become popular among participants and staff alike. We wondered whether we could host the unique experience on a virtual platform for a selection of the young women who are entering their senior year and would not have the opportunity to attend in the future. Much to our delight, they said YES, we’re in! And so, this week began the 5th Annual CSI—a five-day platform for young women to learn from ACR’s conservation staff and peer mentors, with a special focus on exploring the multi-dimensional relationships that are present in conservation science and in the lives of those that practice it.

Participants are from across North America: Mississippi, Puerto Rico, New York City, San Francisco, Napa, L.A. and more! Five peer mentors—previous participants of the program—jumped in to help with this year’s “Covid-Edition” planning and have been leading games, reflective discussion groups, and supporting the participants in nature and reflective journaling.

Program facilitators Jacqueline Levy and Natasha Lekach say that even with the challenges of internet connectivity, background noise, and an inability to offer a field experience—the participants have been fully engaged in discussions with staff and each other on conservation topics ranging from stewardship to communications to research and monitoring.

A special honor for us was to welcome Amy Stanfield as a panelist on the research panel. As a high school student, Amy attended the first CSI camp in 2016. Now an undergraduate at UCLA, she shared her experiences with the Living with Lions project and reflected on the important relationships that she has built in the conservation science community.

One of our program objectives is to guide participants in assessing a conservation issue in their community. They have chosen a wide range of topics including: wood stork conservation in South Carolina, oyster reef restoration in Florida, and watershed restoration in California. On Friday, we look forward to learning all about these projects and what conclusions these young women have drawn about the impact of conservation science.

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SELECTED READING LIST FROM CSI 2020:

Advice and inspriation for women in science, J.E. Hausheer, Cool Green Science 2016

How do people know about nature?, J. Gonzalez, Bay Nature 2019

Fire as a global herbivore, Bond & Keeley, Elsevier 2005

Whimbrels on the Wing, Manomet / arcgis.com

Building Partnerships - Working together for conservation, birdlife.org

Why keep a nature journal?  J. M. Laws, The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling

Cutting through the fog, Bay Nature 2002

Skywoman Falling, Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass

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Conservation Science Intensive is funded in part by the Farley Family Charitable Foundation, Franklin and Jean Schaffner Foundation, Quigley/Hiltner Fund and many generous members and supporters of ACR. THANK YOU!