The Advancing Students to Careers in Ecology Program (ASCEP) at Paul Smith's College (PSC) will provide 20 academically talented, low-income students with an innovative, experiential educational opportunity that will advance them to careers in ecology. As part of the career development process, PSC will educate and inform students and their families about career pathways in ecology. ASCEP will investigate the roles of service learning and family engagement in improving academic success and career attainment for first-generation and for rural college students. These research results may be useful to other institutions as they develop programs to advance first-generation and rural students into STEM careers and graduate education. This project will also contribute new knowledge to the field of ecology through undergraduate student research as well as increase the diversity of the STEM workforce.
The goal of ASCEP is to provide an innovative, experiential educational experience that will advance students to careers in ecology. As students prepare for careers in Environmental Science, Fisheries and Wildlife Science, and Forest Biology, ASCEP scholars will be supported by high-impact practices such as learning communities, service learning, and both faculty-mentored and independent research projects. ASCEP will educate and inform both students and their families about career pathways in ecology. ASCEP will also investigate the roles of service learning experiences, parental engagement, and family support in improving both academic success and career attainment of first-generation and rural college students. The project will contribute new knowledge to the field of ecology through undergraduate research and, through broad dissemination and replication of the model, will increase workforce diversity in high growth green industries.