The National Cooperative Fisheries Scholars Program: Challenges for Post-Graduates

Monday, September 9, 2013: 2:20 PM
Marriott Ballroom C (The Marriott Little Rock)
Michael A. Eggleton , Aquaculture/Fisheries Center, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Pine Bluff, AR
Steve E. Lochmann , Aquaculture/Fisheries Center, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Pine Bluff, AR
Racial minorities are underrepresented in the fields of fisheries and wildlife management, and the environmental sciences.  In pursuing these careers, minority students face several challenges that have been outlined previously in the “Managing Diversity in a Changing World” symposium in 2011.  In response to these challenges, the National Cooperative Fisheries Scholarship (NCFS) program was created jointly by the U.S. Geological Survey – Biological Resource Division (USGS-BRD) and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) in 2001.  The program enjoyed success in that NCFS graduates exceeded department, University, Arkansas, and national averages in several key metrics.  Specifically, NCFS graduates had a better graduation rate (68%), freshman-sophomore retention rate (83%), employment rate in their field of training (85%), and graduate school attendance rate (54%).  However, although the NCFS was a successful program, minority students that graduated from the program still faced challenges in becoming natural resource professionals.  Indications are that the structured learning and mentoring environment of the undergraduate program should continue at the graduate level.  Whether in the professional workforce or graduate study, the challenges posed in 2011 still exist for minority graduates.  Using individual NCFS graduates as case studies, we discuss these challenges and provide guidance to improve future efforts that target workplace diversity.