A Proposal for Early Career Representation on the ESA Governing Board
Editor’s note: In September, ESA members will be asked to vote on a proposed Bylaws amendment, which would add a dedicated ECP seat to the ESA Governing Board in addition to the existing officers, Branch and Section representatives, and student representative. To provide equal space for those who support or oppose the proposal, ESA has published the following argument in favor of the proposal as well as an argument against adoption of the proposed amendment. Readers should note that the ESA Governing Board supports adoption of the Bylaws amendment. However, the views expressed below are those of the author and not necessarily of ESA. Additionally, this post was updated August 13, 2021, to reflect a change in the timing of the vote on the proposed ESA Bylaws change.
By Carly Tribull, Ph.D.
This fall, Entomological Society of America members will vote on a proposed bylaws change that would add an Early Career Professional Representative to the ESA Governing Board. This position would complement the existing Student Representative and representatives for each of the ESA Sections and Branches on the Governing Board. Voting on the measure will open in mid-September and close mid-October 2021.
As chair of the ESA Early Career Professionals (ECP) Committee, I hope you’ll take a moment here to learn about why ECP members are seeking this change. If you are an ESA member, it’s important to understand why an ECP Representative to the Governing Board can benefit your professional society. And, even if you’re not an ESA member, this change can have important impacts on the entomology profession and insect science at large.
Early Career Professional members at ESA are defined as those who have completed their terminal degree within the previous five years. This category includes members who are post-doctoral researchers, adjunct or assistant professors, extension and industry entomologists, and many more, all of whom fall under the wide, early-career umbrella. Since being differentiated from the student membership several years ago, the ECP Committee and our members have provided resources to the Society in the form of webinars, symposia, publications, and networking opportunities. After several years of advocating for early career entomologists, supporting the goals of the Society at large, and serving as a bridge for student and student-transition members to become full members, we believe the time is right for an ECP member to serve as a representative on the Governing Board.
An ECP Representative to the Governing Board would serve the Society in the following ways:
- Ensuring that a member of the Governing Board provides the perspective of an ECP member. ECP members are often those most impacted and informed about changes to search committees and hiring cultures, expectations of research output, and broader changes to entomological research, funding, and public opinions about our field. The addition of an ECP Representative to the Governing Board will fill in a gap between the Student Representative and Section and Branch Representatives, while providing valuable input on proposals from these areas.
- Bolstering the retention of ECP members in our Society while giving opportunity to future leaders. ECP membership is the last Society membership category before regular membership, and ECP members currently account for 13 percent of the membership population (a steady growth from 8 percent in 2015). Despite these growing numbers, ECP members struggle to gain elected positions in the Society and often lose races to more senior members. Adding an ECP Representative on the Governing Board would provide a leadership position that allows the representative to gain more visibility in the Society and volunteer opportunities. Additionally, it would demonstrate that we value our current ECP membership by providing a voice on the Governing Board and would advance our goal of bolstering the retention of ECPs as they transition into regular membership status.
- Providing a direct link between the ECP Committee and the Governing Board. Over the past few years, the ECP committee has provided growing numbers of publication efforts (Entomologist Today and the “Zyzzyva” column in American Entomologist), useful webinars, and Annual Meeting programming in the form of lunch and learns, workshops, and a variety of symposia. Our programs are utilized not just by ECPs but also by students and regular members, especially our programming concerning the job market and developments in the field. However, the ECP Committee feels that a direct connection with the Governing Board will allow us to refine our resource offerings to be even more useful to our Society, while also providing a direct communication pipeline. An ECP Representative on the Governing Board would attend ECP Committee monthly meetings as well as be an active participant in the development of programming.
Even if you are not an Early Career Professional member, I encourage you to vote in favor of this bylaw proposal for the reasons described above. My colleagues and I on the ECP Committee believe this position will not only serve current ECP members but will also enrich ESA and support its strategic plan. The perspective, input, and representation of an ECP member on the Governing Board will only strengthen and benefit our Society moving forward.
Carly Tribull, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of biology at Farmingdale State College and 2020-2021 chair of the ESA Early Career Professionals Committee. Email: email@example.com.