The UF Thompson Earth Systems Institute Environmental Leaders Fellowship offers UF undergraduates from a variety of majors the opportunity to gain experience in environmental research, education & outreach, and civic engagement. As part of their yearlong Fellowship, TESI teamed up with the UF Water Institute to give them firsthand experience at the 2022 Water Institute Symposium.
“With the ongoing pandemic, many of our students’ college careers have been conducted from behind a laptop,” said Rebecca Burton, TESI communications manager and one of the Fellowship organizers. “We are so thankful for this partnership that made it possible to give our students the chance to not only attend a scientific conference, but play an important role and gain crucial networking skills.”
The UF Thompson Earth Systems Institute’s Environmental Leaders Fellows were tasked with collecting questions for the closing plenary panel: Climate Resilience in a Ground Zero State. For most of the undergraduate students, the Symposium was their first experience attending a scientific conference. The assignment helped give them confidence and networking practice for their future careers.
“Gathering questions for the closing panel encouraged me to talk with Symposium presenters and attendees,” said one of the Fellows. “I definitely felt shy at first, but being given the task of gathering questions was a good way to break the ice and get a conversation started with attendees. In the future, I won’t be as hesitant to approach the scientists and ask them questions about their work.”