Inclusive Conservation Community Initiative (ICON) main content.

Inclusive Conservation Community Initiative (ICON)

Today’s complex conservation challenges require diverse and innovative solutions - the type of solutions that can only come from a diverse, equitable, inclusive, and culturally vibrant workforce. A variety of voices, vantage points, and expertise ultimately contribute to organizational success.

In response to the social, educational, and financial barriers that impede the full participation of historically underrepresented groups in the conservation fields, the CBC created the Inclusive Conservation Community Initiative (ICON) in 2001 (formerly named the Enhancing Diversity in Conservation Science Initiative). This Initiative reflects the CBC’s commitment to the recruitment, achievement, and success of historically underrepresented groups in the conservation workforce. Ultimately, the initiative aims to encourage diversity, inclusion, and excellence in the field of conservation. 

The CBC's Approach

Advancing the representation of historically underrepresented groups (HUGs) in the field of biodiversity conservation is a natural component of the CBC’s approach to transforming diverse sources of knowledge into conservation action. We believe that including a variety of voices, vantage points, and expertise will result in a more vibrant, robust and higher functioning profession. Through ICON, we have fostered a learning community of scientists, educators, and conservation practitioner partners to promote the recruitment, achievement, and success of students and early career professionals from historically underrepresented groups in the field of conservation.

Intern examining the small mammal collection at the Museum.
2018 intern Valentina Grisales examining the small mammal collection at the Museum. © Mary Blair CBC/AMNH

Through a combined approach of mentoring and outreach communication, ICON supports participants as they build networks, communities of practice, new ideas, and pathways to conservation careers. Our strategy is to collaborate with other organizations, individuals, and agencies with similar objectives such as the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Green 2.0, and the Diversity Joint Venture.

For example, we partner with the Museum’s Education Department to expand opportunities for internships in conservation biology through the Science Research Mentoring Program for high school students. ICON has also strengthened mentoring opportunities for students at CBC’s Student Conference on Conservation Science–New York (SCCS-NY) through near-peer mentoring and other targeted opportunities. Through coordinated workshops and publications, ICON also helped to establish the Society for Conservation Biology (SCB)’s board-level committee on equity, inclusion, and diversity.

Past efforts included a professional development workshop, entitled “Increasing Conservation Literacy and Engagement in the New York Region,” organized by SENCER (Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities) and NCEP (the Network of Conservation Educators and Practitioners), which polled workshop participants regarding their needs and any obstacles to increasing diversity in the sciences.

The CBC remains committed to our vision of a diverse and culturally vibrant conservation workforce, capable of addressing the complex conservation issues of today and tomorrow.

Additional resources: 

Project partners: 

Funding for the CBC’s Inclusive Conservation Community Initiative has been provided by V. H. Donnelley, Strachan Donnelley Family Charitable Lead Unitrust and by Marshall M. Weinberg.