Interested in joining the SCBO Board, but not sure what it involves? We asked our current board members to share some of their experiences.
How much time does being on the Board take?
Micha: A member at large position on the SCBO board is not a huge time commitment; it means attending and meaningfully engaging in our [Zoom] meetings every other month, and engaging in issues or events of interest to your skills and experience as they emerge (examples include policy work, organising/supporting section or chapter events, and assisting with conference planning).
Shannon: The time commitment varies depending on what initiative we are currently working on. As an example, we might put in more time during April if we are working on organizing an Earth Day event, but then little to no time in May. Most months, I put in at least an hour a week on SCB work and that’s including my involvement with my local Chapter. Conference years are always a bit more busy, but also they are more fun.
Bec: For the last few years I’ve been managing the SCBO web presence – the website and social media accounts. The time I need to put into that varies, and it’s busier in the run up to conferences and other events, but it typically takes an hour a week or less. Our Zoom meetings are every other month and run for a couple of hours.
What initiatives have you been a part of whilst serving on the board?
Tim: I have been most strongly involved in the Policy Committee and it has really helped me develop new skills that I didn’t have exposure to through my normal work. We have worked on a lot of policy submissions to government and it enabled me to apply my research skills beyond the academic sphere. Some of the issues we have worked on include the EPBC Act, the Threatened Species Strategy, feral cats, and the Great Barrier Reef.
Shannon: Since joining the board, I have been heavily involved in bringing the biennial Oceania conference to Hawaii. Unfortunately, our joint conference was planned for 2020 and as one could imagine – this did not happen in the way we had wished. Still, I continued as a member of the conference planning committee which still took place virtually and many people from across Oceania were able to still participate.
Vanessa: In 2019 SCB Oceania was approached to join the global network of Earth Optimism events. We leveraged our relationship with Taronga Conservation Society to agree to co-host Earth Optimism Australia events on earth day as an annual ongoing event. The 2020 event was cancelled due to covid (with move to online social media to share good news stories) but we were able to resume in person events in 2021 and have just finished off our Earth Optimism 2021 soapbox science hour. To organize this it took roughly 1-2 hours a week of time from me for a period of 8 weeks to invite speakers, organize speaker videos, liaise with Taronga staff to make sure the location was set up, and nuts and bolts event items like printing and advertisement materials. So in total 1-2 days of my time with a similar investment from Taronga staff who managed the event page, digital ads and communication, media and site set up.
Micha: As Chapters Chair I have been working to maintain and enhance our communication and engagement with SCBO Chapters through regular virtual catch-ups and cross-promotion of events on social media.
Nicky: Running a conference. Challenging but learned a lot. Great opportunity to build networks that continue to be relevant.
What has been a highlight for you of being on the board?
Tim: I have really enjoyed the opportunity to develop new connections with other board members and SCBO members from across Oceania and a range of sectors, including NGOs, government, community organisations and universities. Being part of the SCBO board has exposed me to a broader part of the conservation community than I would normally meet and I’ve learnt a lot from these experiences.
Shannon: Something I didn’t anticipate, but has been such an important part of my time on the board has been the sense of community that has been created among the board members – and the wider society in general. I have made some really great connections and friendships with like-minded people that are always willing to help and provide insight on the work that we all do. Also, helping plan and attending the 2018 Wellington conference was a personal highlight – I love that city!
Micha: Liaising with our wonderful SCBO chapters in the region through my role as Chapters Chair and learning about their amazing local efforts to promote biodiversity conservation. These include things like improving biodiversity habitat locally, holding events to promote conservation issues, helping students to consider pathways for careers in conservation science and more!
Nicky: People you get to work with that are awe inspiring, dedicated and generous.
Bec: As a member of our Science & Education committee, I’ve been involved in organising and judging our student awards schemes. It’s really inspiring to see the fantastic research that students are doing in our region that’s going to have an impact on conservation practice and policy in the future. I’m always keen to think about how SCBO can best support students across Oceania, and it’s really exciting when we secure funding to award travel scholarships for our conferences.