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 offer an expanded and more accessible Pre-College Scholars Program beginning in January 2022 that will culminate with the opportunity for some selected participants to be Founders Fellows who attend the 2022 the SSAR annual meeting (https://ssarherps.org/meetings/). In 2022, the SSAR annual meeting will be held as part of the Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (JMIH) July 27-31, 2022, in Spokane, WA. The Pre-College Scholars and Founders Fellowships provide mechanisms for pre-college students interested in herpetology to interact with peers and professional herpetologists from around the world. The programs are an opportunity for students and their families to learn about programs and careers in herpetology. The programs are made possible – in part – by the Weinkle Family Endowment for Pre-College Scholars.
The 2022 Pre-College Scholars program will begin in January with monthly virtual meetings with peers and professional herpetologists from around the world focused on different facets of herpetology. A list of potential 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 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.
- Visual Herpetology: A roundtable with experts in herpetological photography and videography
Toward the culmination of the virtual program, up to five Pre-College Scholars Program participants may be selected as Founders Fellows to attend the SSAR annual meeting, which will be held as part of the 2022 JMIH in Spokane, WA. 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. Individuals selected as Founders Fellows must attend the SSAR annual meeting to receive their financial award. In addition to fully participating in keynote 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, a networking session with graduate students and faculty representing several colleges and universities with active herpetology programs, and an SSAR AV night featuring movies produced by SSAR members. Fellows also have the option to present their own research in herpetology during a poster or oral session.
Any questions about the Pre-College Scholars and Founders Fellow programs 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 2021.
- 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 April 30, 2022 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 who participate in the 2022 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 2022 program is November 10, 2021. Send all application materials as a single pdf document by email to Dr. John Maerz, Chair of the SSAR Pre-College Awards Committee, at email@example.com. Only complete applications that include the four required items will be considered. Applicants will be notified of selection by November 21, 2021.
Founders Fellowships will likely not cover the full cost of annual meeting attendance for some 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, 2022.
For detailed descriptions of previous Founders Fellow experiences at prior JMIH meetings, see the December 2020 issues of the society’s news bulletin, Herpetological Review, at ssarherps.org.