York University alumnus Jason Taylor (MES ’00) has shared in a prestigious United States mentoring award at the White House. As the founding director of education for the Ecological Society of America (ESA), Taylor was part of a team that received a 2006 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics & Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM). US President George W. Bush made the announcement at a White House ceremony on Nov. 16. The highest honour of its kind in the United States, the award is supported and administered by the National Science Foundation and includes a $10,000 grant for continued mentoring work.
As ESA’s director of education from 2001 to 2007, Taylor played an integral part in designing the program for which the award was given. The program, Strategies for Ecology Education, Development and Sustainability (SEEDS), was established in 1996 to anchor ESA’s education and diversity initiatives and was made possible by support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Its mission is to diversify and advance the profession of ecology through opportunities that stimulate and nurture the interest of underrepresented students.
Taylor helped develop the educational activities at ESA. "SEEDS is a model mentoring program that continues to foster the development of a more diverse generation of ecology professionals," said Taylor.
"While we were receiving the award, I was asked what the ultimate outcome of success was in a mentoring program. I didn’t hesitate to say that it is when a participant takes what they have learned and gives a piece of it back to their community," said Taylor.
Taylor has taken his vision and knowledge of science and environmental education to the Utah Society of Environmental Education (USEE) and the state of Utah. With the input of educators across the state, he will help USEE undertake a new project that will perform a statewide assessment of Utah’s K-12 environmental education efforts in energy conservation, waste management, air quality, and water quality education.
Taylor holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Studies from York University. In Ontario he has been a volunteer with the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre in Midland, taught nature studies at Grandview Resort in Huntsville, and set up the Nature Program at Delawana Inn Resort in Honey Harbour.