Mentorship Across Lived Experiences



Symposia will be available on-demand on their scheduled date, then again at the conclusion of the conference.

This symposium aims to highlight the diversity of lived experiences wildlifers have, and how mentorship can play a role in people?s career path, success, and wellbeing within our field. Having good support and resources can be vital in making connections and feeling welcome within wildlife biology. Mentorship can help provide that support. We have assembled a symposium of people from diverse backgrounds, who can speak about different types of mentorship and programs so anyone in the audience can learn about how to be better mentors, mentees, and colleagues to their fellow wildlifers who have different experiences then themselves.

Diversify Wildlife Video: Incorporating Human Perspectives Into the Role of Diversity and Inclusion in Wildlife Science
Bayan Ahmed
Studies have found that diverse workplaces are positively correlated with enhanced innovation, productivity, communication, and problem-solving. Inclusivity among individuals from underrepresented backgrounds allows for creative and effective approaches to conducting scientific research. Wildlife biology is a multidisciplinary science that would likely benefit from the inclusion of diverse people and perspectives; however, it has been suggested that the field of wildlife biology fails to adequately reflect the diverse communities it represents. The Wildlife Society Western Section (TWS-WS) Diversity Committee created the film Diversify Wildlife to bring attention to the various perspectives regarding diversity among biologists in the field and to examine whether these perspectives are adequately reflected in wildlife team composition and project goals. We filmed 7 projects and interviewed 19 students, professors, and project leads. When beginning this project we hypothesized that most wildlife biologists recognize the importance of increasing diversity but these ideals are not adequately represented in practice. We recommend researchers and employers change this by proactively incorporating diversity into team composition and management strategies. Good mentorship skills are required to achieve this. Diversify Wildlife helps facilitate this conversation. Follow the conversation using the hashtag #DiversifyWildlife.
Establishingmeaningful Mentoring Relationships to Promote Diversity in the Wildlifeprofession
Susan Ellis-Felge; Kaylan Kemink
Mentoring plays a crucial role in both the educational and professional world of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines as it provides students and young employees with sponsorship and networking opportunities. Despite the importance of mentoring for recruiting and retaining bright and innovative individuals to STEM careers, few institutions provide formal training about best practices or even general guidelines. While research in this area is still relatively scarce, what does exist suggests that mentor and mentee identities (e.g. gender, hunter) play a large role in how a relationship forms and persists. Men seeking to mentor women entering the field of wildlife ecology for example would need to structure their approach differently than if they sought to mentor another male. Understanding how these social relationships should be approached and managed has become more critical as the structure of STEM disciplines like wildlife ecology shifts from male-dominated to a more balanced gender ratio. We hope to provide an opportunity for reflection and a springboard for future discussions about how to enhance conservation of the resources for the generations ahead and increase retention of a diversity of backgrounds in the wildlife profession.
Mentoring LGBTQ+ Wildlifers
Katherine M. O’Donnell
Whether formally or informally, we all play the roles of Mentor and Mentee throughout our careers. Often, informal mentorship relationships form between people who share some aspect of their identity – gender, ethnicity, etc. Sometimes, though, in more formal mentorship situations, we may find ourselves mentoring someone whose lived experience differs from ours in some meaningful way. We may feel less confident about our ability to serve as a mentor in these situations. For example, mentors who do not identify as LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and related identities) may be uncertain about how to best mentor someone who does. In this talk, I will discuss some of the “best practices” for mentoring wildlifers in the LGBTQ+ community.
Accessibility vs. Inclusion: What Is the Key to Mentorship?
Sachiko Flores
Most findings show that mentoring is a key aspect of individual’s career due to effective and inclusive access to the information. In the past few years the inclusion of women, minorities, and people with disabilities in outdoor experiential education programs has become more widespread in the United States, however Deaf individuals are still left out from the mentorship opportunities. Accessibility is often used as a checklist tool for an event or program taking place, but that is not always true for deaf and hard of hearing persons. So how exactly can deaf and hard of hearing people have a fully successful mentoring experience without having any barriers in conversations with staff, professors, academic advisors, and sponsorships from other professionals? The only times deaf and hard of hearing people are fully included in outdoor programs are when they are sharing the experience directly with other deaf and hard of hearing professionals. Instead of looking only at how to solve accessibility issues, we need to look at creating inclusive and equitable mentorship programs which Deaf individuals can receive a better support in their professional developmental activities.
Building Mentorship Programs: Perspectives and Lessons Learned from Tws
Jamila Blake
The Wildlife Society (TWS) is a professional society founded in 1937 with the mission to inspire, empower, and enable wildlife professionals to sustain wildlife populations and habitats through science-based management and conservation. The Wildlife Society is proud to be able to support the development and advancement of wildlife professionals throughout their careers, and recognizes the importance of offering valuable opportunities to connect with and learn from each other, such as mentorship programs. Mentorship is integral in several TWS programs, such as the Leadership Institute, Native American Research Assistantship, and the wildlife biologist certification program. While mentorship has been available as an option through the member portal for some time, members noticed a need for a more inclusive approach to mentorship in the Society. Recently, dedicated members worked with staff to develop the Mentorship for Life program. The mission of Mentorship for Life is to connect wildlife professionals from many sub-disciplines through mentorship, networking, and professional development activities throughout the North American and international communities of scientists, managers, and conservationists; to integrate a diversity of technologies, approaches, and skill sets by welcoming professionals from a diversity of ethnicities, genders, ages, education levels, career stages, abilities, and economic backgrounds; to enhance The Wildlife Society’s public image as a premier professional scientific authority by expanding its expertise in mentorship, career development, and public outreach, adding further value to the Society’s members. Using experience, feedback, and current resources we are working to enhance all mentorship components of the Society and cultivate a community of wildlife professionals empowered to expand and engage with supportive networks.
TUESDAY 3:00PM – 4:00PM Panel Discussion

Organizers: Bayan Ahmed, California Department of Water Resources, Elk Grove, CA; Paul Di Salvo, EPA, Arlington, VA; Auriel Fournier, Illinois Natural History Survey, Havana, IL; Jennifer Malpass, USGS, Patuxent, MD
Supported by: Early Career Professionals Working Group, Ethnic and Gender Diversity Working Group, Mentorship for Life

Location: Virtual Date: September 28, 2020 Time: -