The Aldo Leopold Leadership Program, an innovative communications training and networking program sponsored by the Ecological Society of America, has announced the selection of its first class of 20 fellows. Among them is Dr. Nancy Targett, marine biologist and associate dean of the Graduate College of Marine Studies at the University of Delaware.
Targett, who is based at the university's Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes, Del., joined the college as a faculty member in 1984, and soon established the Chemical Ecology Laboratory. She served as director of the college's Marine Biology-Biochemistry Program from 1990 to 1994. Targett also played a leadership role in establishing the college's semester-in-residence program for undergraduates. She is a member of the American Chemical Society and Sigma Xi, an honor society for scientists and engineers, and served as an officer for the International Society of Chemical Ecology. In addition, Targett is serving her second, three-year term on the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council.
The primary goal of the Leopold program is to bridge the information gap between public perception and scientific fact regarding environmental issues by training scientists to communicate with the public. Named for Aldo Leopold, a pioneering environmental scientist and communicator of this century, the program is administered by Oregon State University and supported by a $1.5 million, five-year grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Most of the Leopold fellows come from tenured academic positions and are active researchers and educators who represent a variety of disciplines related to environmental sciences.
The focus of the training is to develop the skills to communicate environmental issues effectively to the media as well as to decision makers in the public and private sectors. The training program, which will fund two additional groups of 20 fellows, has been organized into five critical topic areas that include providing leadership within the scientific community, providing scientific input to the policy process, communicating with the news media, interacting with the corporate sector, and working with non-governmental organizations.
Public outreach has been a hallmark of Targett's tenure at the university. She and her students have developed hands-on educational activities for Coast Day, the college's annual open house. She also has established a lecture series at the Lewes campus that brings issues of marine science to the public. Targett also has been a driving force behind the expansion of the college's Web site at www.ocean.udel.edu.
"Communicating the scientific facts behind ecological issues is critical," Targett said, "because people are more likely to take responsibility if they see interconnectedness between their actions and the issues."
This June, the Leopold fellows will begin training in Oregon with a focus on the news media and business and science communities. The fellows will meet again in September in Washington, DC, to focus on policy and organizational issues. Next year, the fellows will share their experiences on conducting outreach activities with the new class of fellows in addition to participating in the Ecological Society of America meetings.