Endangered Species Day 2015: How Our Online Students Can Get Involved
By Dr. Francesca Catalano
Faculty Director, School of STEM at American Public University
Recently, a post went viral on Facebook announcing that the black rhino was declared extinct. The black rhino has actually been extinct since 2011; it’s the white rhino that is at grave risk. Sadly, the last known white rhino male is under armed guard 24 hours a day to protect it from poachers looking to earn up to $75,000 for his horn.
Currently, 41,415 plant and animal species are designated endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (Endangered Earth). Of those, almost 40% of are listed as “endangered threatened with extinction.” (IBID). According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1,578 of these are found in the United States. This is a worldwide problem that requires worldwide action and response.
The Endangered Species Act of 1973 recognized that species at risk “are of esthetic, ecological, educational, historical, recreational, and scientific value to the Nation and its people.” In 2006, Congress designated the third Friday in May as Endangered Species Day, in an effort to bring awareness to the plight of endangered species everywhere. On that day, and throughout the month of May, conservation groups, aquariums, parks and zoos work to educate the general public as to what they can do in their everyday lives to help reduce risk for these species. Federal agencies and national groups and organizations including the National Park Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Wildlife Association partner to provide education in support. For more information, on this event visit the Endangered Species Coalition site.
What You Can Do as a Student
wSTEM, an American Public University System recognized group designed to promote and encourage women in STEM, is thrilled to join in these efforts. The wSTEM members, as well as students from sections of multiple different classes within the science program, in the School of STEM can participate in Endangered Species Day by creating a slide highlighting the plight of one organism that has been designated endangered. These slides will be collected and collated into a seamless presentation that will be available as an education outreach tool. Students from American Public University and American Military University are encouraged to get involved.
Originally this project was proposed for three courses: general education biology, environmental science and oceanography courses. However, the faculty response to this project has been overwhelming; some faculty have asked to include additional sections currently running as well as include students in other courses, including marine biology and fishery biology. For information on how you can participate in this important outreach that will be unveiled May 15, email wSTEM founder Dr. Francesca Catalano at firstname.lastname@example.org
A group project spanning across scores of sections of multiple courses will help students see how organism and habitat protection is a fundamental part of biology. It will underscore the relevance and impact of science in their everyday lives. More importantly, this project will also allow students to meaningfully contribute to a movement supported by the government and many important agencies and groups. Finally, a group project of this nature unites the students, faculty and staff of American Public University System in an education-based service opportunity.
About the Author
Francesca Catalano is a professor of science and Director of Faculty for the school of STEM at American Public University. She holds a doctorate in molecular biology from Loyola University Chicago and a law degree from DePaul College of Law. She is the founder of wSTEM and is active in many areas of science outreach in her community.