Since the establishment of NCBS six years ago, scientific outreach, education, and extension have been among the primary priorities of the work of the station. The station has built up staff, volunteers, and facilities to communicate and educate the general public, K-12 groups, and college students about the science underway in the Big Bend Region. In 2020, after calls for greater efforts to emphasize inclusion, diversity, equity, and access (IDEA), our team established a dedicated IDEA committee.
We have spent the past year and a half primarily focusing on creating institutional changes within NCBS to promote greater inclusivity principles and practices as well as encourage more dialogue about various IDEA-related issues among our group. Now that we have more established infrastructure, workshops, and engaged personnel, we are planning on expanding our connections with other groups operating in IDEA spaces over the coming year to promote IDEA principles more broadly. Our team is proud of how we have been able to grow as a workplace as well as expand our efforts throughout the groups we serve. We have highlighted some of our recent activities from 2020 and 2021 below and we look forward to continuing to work and improve in these spaces in the coming years.
- The UF/IFAS NCBS Undergraduate Internship Program occurs annually and sponsors around 10–15 undergraduate interns for six weeks paired with UF faculty and other governmental partners conducting research and extension efforts throughout the Big Bend region of Florida.
- In addition to undergraduates, in any given year, there are about 20 graduate students affiliated with NCBS from five different departments throughout UF.
- In the summer of 2021, we hosted a workshop for our undergraduate research interns on job and graduate school applications and CVs.
- We have designated graduate student mentors each year for incoming graduate students who will provide resources, advice, and host social events.
Outreach & Extension
- We have an active online presence using an NCBS website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube, most of which were created only in 2017 if not more recently. Despite our only recent online presence, in 2020, we had: 16,417 web sessions by 12,653 unique users resulting in 36,920 page views on our website; a total tweet reach of 69,806; 189 Facebook posts with a total post reach of 187,730 and 14,962 likes, comments, and shares; and 56 Instagram posts with a total reach of 14,955 with 2,334.
- In 2020, the Extension program produced a total of 108 creative works (fact sheets, blog posts, videos, web tools, etc.) to support the delivery of science-based Extension education.
- Since the summer of 2020, we have hosted nine IDEA meetings and workshops attended by 15–42 people each on a variety of topics including: mental health and well-being; diversity benefits to research; safety concerns related to race, gender, sexual orientation, and other issues. Topics also included obstacles to recruiting and retaining women faculty; accessibility through universal design; socioeconomic status and education impacts; transgender inclusion; and mentoring.
In the coming year, we will continue to refine and improve our IDEA activities, and we look forward to having our team continue to engage on these topics.