LTER Education Committee converges on Cedar Creek for annual meeting

Network News Fall 2013, Vol. 26 No. 4

A last-minute funding availability allowed the Education Committee to assemble for its annual meeting August 22-24, 2013, at Cedar Creek (CDR) Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) site in Minnesota. Thirteen site representatives and two graduate student members traveled to the Land ‘O Lakes for a weekend of sub-committee reports, brainstorming and goal-setting, mixed with hikes, bonfires and al fresco dining on the edge of the prairie. In addition to setting achievable goals for the upcoming year, members acknowledged Steven McGee for his two terms as co- chair of the Education Committee.Other notable achievements include the roll-out of the LTER Education Digital Library (LEDL) under the precise direction of Beth Simmons (PAL)—an enormous venture that required not only recruitment, vetting and posting of lesson plans from around the LTER network but also the creation of an entirely new website to house the collection. The LEDL project was the only Education Committee proposal accepted in the post ASM 2012 round of working group proposals and was completed on schedule, thanks to collaboration between the LNO and the LEDL sub-committee.

In the higher education arena, Art Schwartzchild (VCR) reported great success with his site’s support for LTER student socials at major scientific meetings as a way to promote LTER and support graduate students. Schwartzchild challenged each site to consider sponsoring a year’s worth of socials at major meetings such as the Ecological Society of America (ESA), Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO), and Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (CERF) on a rotating basis. 

In subsequent elections to fill vacancies in the committee, Mary Spivey (CDR) was elected co-chair, with Nick Oehm (FCE), of the committee, while Scott Simon (SBC) was elected chair of the Professional Development sub-committee. 

One immediate outcome of the meeting is increased communication and information-sharing between sites via monthly conference calls. McGee suggested sub-committee reports be a regular part of the call agendas and as a result, two sub-committees have provided informative updates on current projects of interest to the educational and greater LTER community.  In November, Kim Eichorst (SEV), representing the K-12 Student Research sub-committee, reported on the success of the Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program in Central New Mexico, and Beth Simmons gave a webinar on the LEDL during the December call. In January, Elena Sparrow (BNZ) and a graduate student are scheduled to talk about citizen science up in Alaska. Everyone is welcome—including LTER members who are not members of the committee—to join the calls and learn more about the exciting activities in the world of LTER education and outreach. Calls are the first Wednesday of each month at 3 p.m. EST, and Oehm, who organizes the calls, will be happy to share the call-in information.