The Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, SSAR, is the largest international herpetological society and offers a diversity of programs to promote herpetology at all career stages including pre-college students. SSAR is pleased to announce that it will continue its expanded and more accessible Pre-College Scholars Program in 2023. The Pre-College Scholars Program provides mechanisms for pre-college students interested in herpetology to interact with peers and professional herpetologists from around the world and is an opportunity for students and their families to learn about activities and careers in herpetology. The 2023 Pre-College Scholars program will begin in January and run through May with monthly virtual meetings with peers and professional herpetologists from around the world. The program will culminate with the opportunity for some selected participants to be Founders’ Fellows who receive partial scholarships to attend the 2023 SSAR annual meeting (https://ssarherps.org/meetings/) held as part of the Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (JMIH) July 12-16, 2023, in Norfolk, VA. The SSAR Pre-College Scholars Program are made possible – in part – by the Weinkle Family Endowment for Pre-College Scholars.
About the Program
Student scholars participate in a monthly, one-hour virtual meeting where they will talk with a range of herpetologists on a variety of topics. A list of potential monthly meeting topics is below. Please note this list is subject to change.
- A discussion of professional herpetology with current and former Founders’ Fellows and SSAR leadership.
- Wisdom through herpetology: a conversation with emerging and eminent herpetologists.
- Roundtable with graduate students and faculty on pursuing professional herpetology in college and beyond
- Herping with a Purpose: A roundtable on how to use your interests to make meaningful contributions to herpetology and conservation.
- Herpetology for All: The history and expansion of women and minoritized groups in herpetology.
- What’s in a Name: Herpetological taxonomy in practice and with purpose
- Visual Herpetology: A roundtable with experts in herpetological photography and videography
Toward the culmination of the virtual program, up to five Pre-College Scholars participants may be selected as Founders’ Fellows to attend the SSAR annual meeting, which will be held as part of the 2023 JMIH in Norfolk, VA. The JMIH is an international conference hosted by the three major herpetological societies (Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, SSAR; American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, ASIH; and the Herpetologist’s League, HL) in addition to the American Elasmobranch Society. Founders’ Fellows receive financial awards that they can apply to partially offset their costs for attending the annual meeting. Individuals selected as Founders’ Fellows must attend the SSAR annual meeting to receive their financial award. In addition to fully participating in the plenary and regular presentation sessions at the meeting, Founders’ Fellows will be introduced to other attendees at the meeting plenary and there will be special programming for fellows including a luncheon with current and past fellows and SSAR leadership, pairing with a graduate student mentor, the opportunity to have lunch with a faculty member, a networking session with representatives of colleges and universities with active herpetology programs, an SSAR AV night featuring movies produced by SSAR members, and other meeting social events. Fellows also have the option to present their own research or other relevant experiences in herpetology during a poster.
Any questions about the Pre-College Scholars Program or policies can be directed to the Pre-College Committee Chair, Dr. John Maerz (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Students who wish to apply must provide the following information by email:
- A brief cover letter that includes your name, date of birth, address, contact information, school name, and what school level grade you are in during the fall of 2022.
- A 1-page, double-spaced statement about why you wish to participate in the Pre-College Scholars and Founders’ Fellow programs and what you expect to gain from the experiences.
- A letter of support from one of your teachers or a guidance counselor endorsing your application and certifying that you are a current student at their school.
- Applicants who will be under the age of 18 through May 30, 2023 must have their parent or guardian submit a supporting statement acknowledging their permission for the student to participate in the virtual program, and applicants who will be under the age of 18 through July 31, 2022 and who participate in the 2023 JMIH must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who must agree to attend the meeting as your chaperone. A signed statement from a parent or guardian acknowledging these policies must accompany your application.
- (optional) Mentor letter. If you have a current mentor for your interests in herpetology that is someone other than the teacher or guidance counselor who provided your supporting letter (item 3), you may include a letter from that mentor. Having a mentor or including a letter from a mentor is not a requirement for eligibility.
The deadline for application for the 2023 program is November 30, 2022. Send all application materials as a single pdf document by email to Dr. John Maerz, Chair of the SSAR Pre-College Scholars Committee, at email@example.com. Only complete applications that include the four required items will be considered. Applicants will be notified of selection by December 21, 2022.
Founders’ Fellowships will likely not cover the full cost of annual meeting attendance for fellows. Towards the end of the virtual program, students who apply to be a Founders’ Fellow will have the option to submit a budget outlining their projected costs and potential financial limitations to participation. Students selected as Founders’ Fellows will be required to register and pay for the annual meeting in advance. Fellowship checks will be presented to fellows at the SSAR President’s Travelogue at the beginning of the conference. SSAR is committed to equitable inclusion in all its programs, so any fellow who cannot prepay for the meeting can contact Dr. Maerz regarding possible alternative arrangements. Pre-College students from outside North America are eligible for these programs and encouraged to apply.
A requirement of Founders’ Fellows is that awardees must provide a short essay (a few paragraphs) summarizing their experiences at the meeting. This essay must be sent to the Pre-College Awards Committee Chair, Dr. John Maerz, at firstname.lastname@example.org by September 1, 2023.
For detailed descriptions of previous Founders’ Fellow experiences at prior JMIH meetings, see the December 2020 or 2022 issues of the society’s news bulletin, Herpetological Review, at ssarherps.org.