The aim of Diversity of Nature is to make ecology field experiences more accessible to BIPOC (Black, Indigineous, and People of Colour) secondary school students.
As women of colour, we have noticed firsthand that as we continue to climb the academic ladder, the diversity of our cohort continues to diminish. Ecology-based field courses we have taken as students or taught as instructors were especially lacking in BIPOC representation, which is a shame as these experiences were foundational in solidifying our love for ecology and the sciences.
We strongly believe that one of the most effective ways to increase BIPOC representation throughout S. T. E. A. M. is to create accessible opportunities as early as possible (i.e. before the post-secondary level). As such, we have created this initiative so that we can give BIPOC secondary students from marginalized backgrounds the opportunity to explore nature and develop their love for ecology first-hand. Our four-day ecological field expedition is FREE to all participating students, thereby removing any monetary barriers that may prevent them from taking part in outdoor field education.
Diversity of Nature leverages the skills of local scientists and is comprised of a series of educational workshops focusing on various ecological concepts ranging from coastal ecosystems to ornithology. We aim to provide a wide range of ecology-based experiences, interspersed with student-led inquiry and exploration of natural sites. Instructors are also comprised predominately of BIPOC ecologists, which will further empower our students to see themselves in future leadership positions.
We hope that providing access to this learning and discovery experience will inspire the next generation of researchers, especially those who may not have otherwise had access to outdoor and S. T. E. A. M. extracurriculars.