“To prevent the worst-case scenario of climate change and the biodiversity crisis we need sweeping change at the highest levels, but we as individuals also need to wake up to the power we wield as members of the ecological community of Earth. The power of the individual cannot be ignored, and our group continues to pursue grassroots, local action that will ultimately precipitate the high-level changes we need.” – Tom Franzem, former president of the Conservation Biology Society
A graduate student-led organization, the Conservation Biology Society was founded in Fall 2019. Not only does the CBS focus on discussing and disseminating conservation relevant information, but they also pursue grassroots movements to promote local conservation efforts. While the group was originally founded as a weekly paper discussion group, as they continued to meet, members realized that they shared a desire to engage in local activism, advocacy, and service. This led to CBS becoming an officially recognized UA student organization in 2020.
When asked about the goal of CBS, Tom said, “…to provide people with a place to learn about and discuss topics related to conservation and ecology, and engage with local government, conservation organizations, and student groups in outreach, advocacy, and service. We, as a group, are trying to do what we can to help local biodiversity, educate people about why biodiversity matters, and promote ecologically-sustainable attitudes and habits.”
Current president Kevin Shaw also spoke to the importance of educating early-career scientists about methods for studying biodiversity, in addition to documenting biodiversity itself. “…[events held and shared by CBS] provide opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students to learn from their peers and experience organismal sampling methods beyond those that they may be familiar with. These are absolutely opportunities to add skills that are advantageous in careers in biology.”
Not only does CBS support undergraduate and graduate students, but the organization also supports our local community with efforts such as engaging in regular litter cleanups – two cleanups in March and April alone resulted in the removal of over 740 pounds of litter from roadways around Tuscaloosa! Group members also have the chance to engage in a multitude of outreach and education opportunities with other UA student groups, including writing letters to local government to promote local conservation action and participating in community-science biodiversity monitoring efforts that generate lots of observations. “Most recently, we’ve begun a compost drop-off service at the UA arboretum that we hope to scale-up in the coming academic year,” said Kevin.
If you have a passion for spreading awareness about conservation and being ecologically conscious in day-to-day life or share the common goal of working to negate some of the influence modern society has on our Natural world, check out CBS on social media (UA Conservation Biology Society on Facebook and @uaconservation on Twitter) to see what they are up to and how you can help.