FiWGSA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Newsletter

Hello everyone!

This is the official newsletter provided by the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) subcommittee of the Fish and Wildlife Graduate Student Association (FiWGSA)!


This biweekly newsletter highlights resources gathered by the committee to create a deeper understanding of a range of topics to empower individuals to create a sustainable, inclusive community.

Today’s newsletter topics: Socioeconomic Barriers.

Our mission statement: The subcommittee of diversity, equity, and inclusion, as a part of the Fisheries and Wildlife graduate student association (FIWGSA), aims to actively foster a safe, respectful climate for the academic community in our department and our college so ALL can succeed, grow and feel empowered as unique individuals.

We have partnered with groups on and off Virginia Tech’s campus, including MANRRS, VT TWS, VA TWS IDEA Committee, FW Department, COS Diversity, Ujima LLC, American Indian & Indigenous Comm. Center, El Centro Cultural Center, Black Graduate Student Organization, Cedars of Lebanon, Latin American and Iberian Graduate Students Association, NAACP at Virginia Tech, and Student for Cultivating Change, which is why you are receiving this email via a group listserv.

Upcoming events:

American Indian and Indigenous Heritage Month – October 15 – November 15

American Indian and Indigenous Heritage Month was designated by Congress in 1990 and celebrated the accomplishments of the peoples who were the original inhabitants and stewards of the United States. (More info here!)

  • Beyond the Music – Wednesday, November 11, 2:00 pm

    • With Indigenous Recording Artist Tall Paul – Register Here

  • Native at VT General Body Meeting – Wednesday, November 11, 7:15 pm – Register Here

  • Community Conversation: Purpose and Significance of Land Acknowledgements – Friday, November 13, 11:00 am

    • Hosted by the Intercultural Engagement Center

    • Register Here (Conversations will be limited to the first 15 who register)

Environmental Justice Journal Club – December meeting

Topic – TBD (More info in next newsletter)

Date & Time – TBD (More info in next newsletter)

Please contact Malia Pownall ( & Emily Thorpe ( for this event’s zoom link. Also, please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or comments too!

The Global Change DEI – Reading Group – Thursday, November 12, 1–2 pm

This is our first “open” meeting: IGC & Friends, please email Lauren Maynard ( if you have any questions and to receive the zoom link to attend the event.

We’ll discuss three articles:

  1. Why Diversity Matters (here)

  2. How Field Courses Propel Inclusion and Collective Excellence (here)

  3. Long-awaited environmental justice study calls for ‘a cultural shift’ at DEQ (here)

The book selection for our January meeting is How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. I hope this gives everyone enough time to acquire and read the book.

Fish and Wildlife Film Festival – November 13th, 6:00-8:00 pm PST (9:00-11:00 EST)

  • The Fish & Wildlife Film Festival at the University of Idaho is dedicated to enhancing knowledge and stewardship of wild nature, including fish and wildlife, the wild landscapes they depend on, and the communities that they sustain. Both nights of the festival (Nov 6 and Nov 13) feature a different set of short wildlife films, selected through a competitive process. Each night’s program runs for approximately 2 hours total (6:00-8:00 pm PST/9:00-11:00 EST). The festival is free for all students (k-12, college), and the recommended donation for adults is $7. Learn more about the festival and see the full program here

  • Nov 13 Registration Link – Here

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Technology & Disability: Counternarratives

During the week of November 9-13, Choices and Challenges presents three events, which are a series of “Technology & Disability: Counternarratives.”

  • “Autism Tech & Autistic Experience” – November 9th, 10:00-11:30 am

    • Carolyn Shivers, Elizabeth McLain, Finn Gardiner, Rua M. Williams, and moderator Damien Patrick Williams share their perspectives regarding autistic experience encountering technology, which helps.

    • Register the Autism Tech & Autistic Experience panel here.

  • “High-tech ‘Fixes’ & Disability” – November 11th, 10:00-11:30 am

    • Alice Wong, Elizabeth Guffey, Jaipreet Virdi, Yomi S. Wrong, and moderator Rose Eveleth propose counter-narratives about high-tech fixes for disability.

    • Register the High-tech “Fixes” & Disability panel here

  • “Cyborg Promenade – Poetry and Music for C&C” – November 13th, 1:30-3:00 pm

    • Sammus the Rapper and poet Travis Chi Wing Lau, a celebration with poetry and music

    • Register the Cyborg Promenade with Sammus and Travis panel here.

Please visit our website ( for the schedule and registration. Please let us know ASAP if you have any difficulty accessing our website.

Our Day-of Access Measures:

  • We will have both CART live-captioning and American Sign Language interpretation at all three parts of this series.

  • If you have any additional questions or access requests, please contact Ashley Shew or Kuan-Hung Lo

Community Access Measures We Ask of You:

  • We ask that you keep your mics muted until the Q&A period. For the Q&A, you will have two options for asking questions either by voice or by text — either through the zoom webinar’s text chat or Q&A function or by using the “raise hand” indicator.

This event is hosted by the Department of Science, Technology, and Society (STS) with support from Virginia Tech’s Advancing the Human Condition Symposia Grant, the Office of Inclusion and Diversity (OID), the CLAHS Diversity Committee, NSF Grant #1750260, and the Center for Humanities.

Asian Cultural Engagement Center (ACEC) at Virginia Tech – Community Events

List of possible upcoming events (found here) – Compiled by the ACEC

Conversations on Race: Experiences of Virginia Tech African Faculty – November 12 from 11 am to 12:30 pm (Find more details and how to register here!)

  • An event being hosted by the Office of Outreach and International Affairs (OIA)

    • Moderated by Dr. Kathy Alexander (FWC)

MANRRS Talk with Dr. Mamie Parker (ONLINE) – November 12, 2020, 6:00pm-7:00pm

  • Pre-registration is required before the event – email for more information

Fall Audubon Talk: Black Birders and the Deep South (ONLINE) – November 18, 2020, 6:00–7:30 pm CST (7:00-8:30 pm EST) (More details here!)

  • Pre-registration is required by 12 pm CST Tuesday, November 17th (here!), and space is limited.

Black Technical and Professional Communication – A Virtual Panel – Monday, November 30, 1:30–3 PM EST (Register here) – More about the event is available here.

  • A coalition of Black scholars in technical and professional communication offer their perspectives on defining Black technical and professional communication; advocating for the inclusion of Black perspectives in the body of mainstream disciplinary scholarship and pedagogical practice; and carving out the methodological, theoretical, and practical space that will enable other Black scholars, teachers, and practitioners in the field to see and do such work.

  • This event is generously supported by a number of units at Virginia Tech, including the Black Cultural Center, the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, the Center for Humanities, the Composition Program, the Writing Center, the Center for Communicating Science, the Center for Educational Networks and Impacts (CENI), the Engineering Communications Program, the Materials Science and Engineering Diversity Committee, and the Engineering Communication Center.

  • The featured speakers are members of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) Black Technical and Professional Communication Task Force, who worked on this CCCC Black Technical and Professional Communication Position Statement with Resource Guide:

Let us know about events you would like to have highlighted in this newsletter!

Please email Darby McPhail ( or Brogan Holcombe ( with the event’s information.

Resources Highlights: Socioeconomic Barriers

FIWGSA DEI is working on growing a resource database (found here) that can be shared with many people to provide varying levels of information about issues of inequalities. We will be creating annotated bibliographies to assist people interested in finding specific resources.

(We are still working out kinks in this process, so if you have any problems accessing these resources, please email Brogan Holcombe at

  1. The Hidden STEM Economy – This report presents a new and more rigorous way to define STEM occupations, and in doing so, presents a new portrait of the STEM economy. Of the $4.3 billion spent annually by the federal government on STEM education and training, only one-fifth goes towards supporting before the bachelor’s level training, while twice as much supports bachelor’s or higher level-STEM careers. The vast majority of the National Science Foundation’s spending ignores community colleges. STEM knowledge offers a high wage and job opportunities to many workers with a post-secondary certificate or associate’s degree. Policymakers and leaders can do more to foster a broader absorption of STEM knowledge to the U.S workforce and its regional economies.

  2. Low-Income Students Nowhere to Be Found in STEM – Discussing students’ socioeconomic barriers and discussing a need for more socioeconomic diversity in the STEM field. Informational video and panel discussion with the original article here.

Scientist Spotlight: John Edmonstone

John Edmonstone, born 1793, was a black naturalist and taught taxidermy to many naturalists in the 1800s. Edmonstone was a slave likely born in British Guiana, who later gained his freedom in Glasgow, Scotland. He came to Scotland with his former master and, after being freed, learned his taxidermy skills from Charles Waterston. Edmonstone moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, where he taught taxidermy to students at the University of Edinburgh, including a young Charles Darwin. Darwin used the techniques he learned from Edmonstone 1825 to 1827 on his voyage HMS Beagle to preserve the finches for his groundbreaking evolutionary theory.

Little is know about Edmonstone. However, it is thought that his discussions with Darwin about his South American memories inspired Darwin’s interest in naturalism. Edmonstone’s contributions to Darwin’s success and natural history may have gone unnoticed; however, Darwin mentioned him in his autobiography. In recent years, natural history experts have started exploring to uncover hidden figures. In 2009, a plaque honoring Edmonstone was commissioned in Lothian Street, close to where he lived in Edinburgh.

More information here!

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact one of our subcommittee chairs, Darby McPhail ( or Brogan Holcombe (

Best regards,

The FIWGSA DEI Subcommittee

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