In my eyes, I am not simply paid for publications and pedagogy. Along with the privilege of being a member of “the academy” comes the responsibility to contribute voluntarily to the overall academic enterprise. Like most fields of study, science in large part functions because scientists volunteer to perform critical tasks, many of which are less than glamorous.
Peer review is one of the most obvious volunteer jobs that science requires, and I have served as a peer reviewer for a great diversity of publications.
I have volunteered at the annual meetings I have attended, serving as a mentor to attending students and judge for student awards.
I served as a member of a committee that reviewed and selected materials from the EcoEd Digital Library, creating a collection of lesson ideas that would be appropriate for the high school classroom.
I help my fellow scientists whose first language is not English as a member of the ESA Author Help Directory. When I was in graduate school my advisor suggested that we both attend a prestigious ecological modeling conference in Spain. I was excited by the prospect of getting back to Europe, but I had to share with him a confession: despite having taken a lot of Spanish language courses in high school and college, I was pretty sure that I could not deliver a scientific talk in Spanish. He laughed because — of course — the entire conference was conducted in English. Cognizant of the great privilege that comes with having my first language just happen to be the language of science, I have tried to share my English language skills with other scientists who are not so privileged.
Recently, I have undertaken a more ambitious volunteer position as Website Facilitator for the Ecological Society of America‘s Environmental Justice Section. I have always had an interest in environmental justice, and I teach a fair amount about it in my courses. For several years I had been a dues-paying but inactive member of the section, so when I saw at the 2012 ESA annual meeting the need for a more dynamic and accessible section website, I stepped forward. Using WordPress, I am trying to see what it takes to get a diverse, dispersed, and busy group of people to collectively produce a valuable site. I cannot say that I have succeeded in reaching this goal yet, but the project is in its early days.
Here’s a short video that I made for the section’s 2013 business meeting at the ESA Annual meeting in Minneapolis, MN: