Workshops

The Student Conference on Conservation Science-New York offers several dynamic, interactive workshops for attendees. 

Workshop Session I 

Intro to Mental Modeler: A Fuzzy-Logic Cognitive Mapping Software Tool for Integrating Stakeholder Knowledge into Conservation Decision-making

Organizer: Steven Gray, Michigan State University.

Abstract: Fuzzy-logic cognitive mapping (FCM) is a parameterized form of concept mapping used to develop qualitative static models of complex systems that are translated into semi-quantitative dynamic models for scenario analysis. In this workshop we present the architecture and various uses of an FCM-based software program called Mental Modeler and discuss the benefits and limitations of the tool to facilitate scenario planning and promote learning among conservation stakeholders. Additionally, by providing workshop participants with sample data and web-based access to the software, we will create models, run scenarios, and identify additional software functionality.

When 9-1-1 Is Not an Option: Health and Safety in the Field

Organizer: A. Nicole Mihnovets, Columbia University.

Abstract: In conservation research and practice we commonly find ourselves in diverse settings. To work in the laboratory, we must undergo carefully regulated training to minimize and mitigate safety and health risks. But no such mandate exists for field-based research, which often takes us to remote locations with rugged conditions. In the absence of standard national or international guidelines, do you know where to seek out basic training that is most relevant to the circumstances you may encounter in the field? Whether you are part of a team or working alone, do you have the necessary skills and knowledge to take preventative steps that reduce risks to health and safety? Do you feel confident in your ability to manage potential risks and emergencies in any given situation? This workshop will shed light on these and other issues. It will help you to identify important and ever-present personal and team safety issues that may confront you. It will direct you to resources to help you and your team maintain optimal health and safety while you are in the field anywhere in the world. No certifications will be offered, but you will learn about opportunities to obtain useful training and certification such as wilderness first aid. Hopefully in the course of your conservation career you will never have to deal with an emergency or urgent health issue, but wouldn’t it feel great to know how to calmly and effectively deal with one if it did occur?

Tips and Tools for Navigating USAJOBS and The Smithsonian Hiring Process

Organizer: Edith Tudae-Torboh, Smithsonian Institution.

Abstract: USAJOBS.gov is the government’s official careers website. This is where you will find virtually all government job openings, complete with position descriptions and instructions for how to apply. Successfully navigating USAJOBS.gov and taking advantage of the tools the site offers is extremely important to finding a job at The Smithsonian and across the Federal Government. The tips provided in this workshop should make the process of finding the right job on this site easier. From there, we will discuss the various hiring mechanisms specific to the Institution and student hiring processes. 

Red Listing of Flora: Results, Perspectives and Challenges of a Megadiverse Country

Organizer: Tainan Messina, Red List Unit Coordinator - CNCFlora & Programme Officer of the Brazilian Plant Red List Authority Group.

The workshop aims to share the experience of Flora Red Listing in Brazil, showing the main challenges, results and perspectives of the process in a megadiverse country. It will also highlight the importance of red listing and of conservation strategies and protocols, such as GSPC/CDB and AICHI targets, globally, in order to understand conservation status of species, to align efforts worldwide and to address conservation planning and priority areas to threatened taxa. After the presentation, a brief training on the IUCN system of categories and criteria (Version 3.1, 2012) will be offered, with the objective of presenting it to build capacity for extinction risk assessment of species. 

Workshop Session II

What Am I Doing With My Life? Career Planning for the Modern Conservationist

Organizers: Alexandra E. Sutton, Duke University; Mary Blair, Cynthia Malone, Rae Wynn-Grant, Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, AMNH.

This session will be an opportunity for participants to reflect on their own academic history while explore potential future directions and gaining skills in career planning, networking, and self-promotion. So come join us for an afternoon gathering to learn about potential career paths in conservation! Interested in industry? Aching for academia? Never gonna give up non-profits? Pretty sure you’re perfect for policy? Wooed by science writing? Then bring your curious self to our seminar, where we’ll be doing some self-assessment activities, discussing options in conservation careers, and small-group sharing about the challenges and rewards of the work we’d like to do. And don’t forget: the more, the merrier! We invite senior scientists to speak about their experiences, post-docs and graduate students to group-share their goals, and undergraduates & high schoolers to discuss their developing ideas. All you need is a notebook, pen, and your creative mind – group activities, games, worksheets, and cookies are on us.

Biocultural Approaches to Conservation

Organizer: Georgina Cullman, Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, AMNH.

Interest in biocultural approaches is growing because conservation initiatives increasingly work with diverse local stakeholders to advance conservation objectives. A growing consensus in conservation practice posits that initiatives are more effective and sustainable when they explicitly integrate human needs and aspirations with conservation objectives. A biocultural approach takes as a given that human societies and the environment affect and are affected by one another in a reciprocal relationship, necessitating a holistic approach in conservation practice. This workshop will introduce the history, origin and application of the concept of biocultural diversity and will explore the implications of a biocultural approach for conservation project design, implementation, and decision-making. 
By completing this workshop, participants will:
1. Understand what is a biocultural approach to conservation
2. Be familiar with the historical background of the concept of biocultural diversity 
3. Be able to distinguish biocultural approaches from other people-and-conservation approaches
4. Identify the value of this approach for particular contexts, and key questions going forward

Making Decision Makers Do the Right Thing

Organizer: David Johns, co-founder of The Wildlands Project and Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiatives.

When Bruce Babbitt became US Secretary of the Interior he told conservationists not to expect him to do the right thing, but to make him do the right thing by bringing needed political pressure. This workshop focuses on how to do that by asking 2-3 participants to present a conservation goal they are working to achieve—protection of a species or a place, restoration, a change in human behavior that negatively affects biodiversity or ecological health—the strategy they are using and results so far. Presented one at a time, participants will then be asked to respond to and discuss a series of strategic questions designed to elicit step by step the tasks that must be accomplished to build the political support and pressure needed to achieve the goal. Too often conservationists take for granted existing power relationships rather than recognizing the need to change them, or they ignore questions of power all together, believing factual information will persuade decision makers whether they are national leaders or communities.
By examining specific cases with different goals the workshop will give participants experience in planning successful strategies—strategies which go beyond typical conservation approaches and use techniques that have worked to achieve a range of societal reforms against difficult odds.