In This Issue
A society supporting and sustaining student members
By Bijan Kimiagar, Stacia Dreyer, and Frank Verberne
In recent years, our society has created more opportunities for student membership and involvement. Some of these efforts were discussed in the Fall 2007 issue of the bulletin. In addition to the annual student paper competition, the issue announced the appointment of the Student Task Force to increase student participation and membership. The same bulletin issue included a bylaw amendment ballot with a proposal to add a student representative office, which would hold a voting seat on the executive committee.
We are happy to announce that earlier this year, these bylaw amendments were approved with overwhelming support. Thank you for your votes! The student committee is now a standing committee whose chair sits as a voting member on the executive committee.
So you may be asking, “Who is on the student committee and what exactly do they do?” The student committee comprises three student affiliates, elected by other student affiliates of the society. Currently, we are Bijan Kimiagar (Chair), Stacia Dreyer (Chair-Elect), and Frank Verberne (Secretary). Over the past two years, the student committee has formed with the help of many individuals, including Beth Karlin (Membership Chair), Bruce Walsh (Past President), Janet Swim (President), and members of the founding student committee, Nicole Sintov and Stephanie Paidas-Dukarm. As the role and goals of the student committee continues to take shape within the society’s governance, we would like to share with you our current mission statement:
The Student Committee advocates on behalf of students, representing their interests, supporting professional development opportunities, and promoting student participation in Society activities.
Our goals to fulfill this mission are threefold. First, we have the goal of advocacy: We try to remain knowledgeable of current society issues, gather student opinions on these issues, and represent the student voice to the executive committee and at society events. Second, we have the goal of organizing: We try to promote student member participation at professional development and social events. Third, we have the goal of collaboration: We try to promote collaboration between student members and all members of the society, along with American Psychological Association of Graduate Students (APAGS, www.apa.org/apags) and other APA divisions or groups with similar missions.
Our most recent effort is a survey of student affiliates’ expectations for our society and other professional organizations. This survey builds on previous efforts by the Student Task Force, who surveyed 64 student affiliates and found students were most interested in professional development opportunities, such as building their vita, staying current with the field, and receiving discounts on journals and conferences. Preliminary results from our 2012 survey suggest these are still important interests, along with the majority of participants choosing the “opportunity to network with other individuals with similar interests” as the most common reason for initially joining the society.
In addition to understanding how to develop our base of new members, we also would like to understand barriers to longterm engagement. Some participants in our survey report not renewing their membership in professional organizations because dues are too high or they forget to renew. Conversely, travel awards and reduced conference rates, along with information via listservs about job postings, are important reasons for maintaining membership in professional organizations.
Most exciting to us is that new student membership has increased in recent years. While new membership is important, we are looking for ways student affiliates maintain their ties to the society beyond their time in a degree program. In the coming years, we hope to focus on supporting graduate and undergraduate students who continue onto both academic and non-academic careers in environmental, population, and conservation psychology, and related fields.
The student committee will benefit from the input of all members of the society. So whether you are a student affiliate or not, please contact us any time (epcpsychstudents@ gmail.com). If you’re not a student affiliate, but would like to become one, make sure to join or renew (www.apadivisions. org/division-34/membership).
Overall, it has been an exciting year for us. Our foundation as a new student committee has become stronger thanks to members who have created the pathways in the past. We look forward to continuing to be a link for students. We are busy this summer: We were at the joint conference with the Society for the Psychological Study of Social issues in June, and look for us this August at the APA convention. We’d love to meet and hear your ideas!
Student Committee Members
Bijan Kimiagar, Chair
Stacia Dreyer, Chair-Elect
Frank Verberne, Secretary