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  1. Abstract

    Undergraduate field experiences (UFEs) are key components of many biology, ecology, and geoscience programs and important steps to successful recruitment into careers. Through semistructured interviews of diverse field program leaders, we seek to understand how field program leaders conceptualize both their scientific disciplines and the intentional design factors they implemented within the UFE itself. Additionally, this study explores critical considerations these program leaders use to approach designing inclusive UFEs as well as the institutional and practical challenges of designing and implementing their UFEs. We acknowledge the limitations of the small sample of respondents, and our intent with this article is to explore these responses as a way to share critical design factors for designing and implementing inclusive UFEs with the broader geoscience community. Building an early understanding of these factors will help new field program leaders address multiple, simultaneous challenges that currently foment the underrepresentation of students from marginalized backgrounds in biology, ecology, and the geosciences. Through these explicit conversations, we hope to support the professional development of a scientific community that values the creation of safe, encouraging field experiences in which students can enhance their self-identity in the sciences, build peer and professional networks, and develop memorable field experiences that support their trajectories toward successful careers.

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  3. Abstract

    The i‐NATURE (Indigenous iNtegration of Aquatic sciences and Traditional Ecological Knowledge for Undergraduate culturally Responsive Education) is a culturally relevant, project‐, and place‐based curriculum that included extensive applied research experience contextualized for specific Indigenous communities. The program developed a model for incorporating Traditional Ecological Knowledge into STEM undergraduate education which included direct participation of several Indigenous communities in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. After implementation of the i‐NATURE model, we tested whether the inclusive pedagogical strategies used in our intervention improved retention and learning outcomes for the students who participated in the i‐NATURE program. We report a highly significant difference in annual retention and mean course grade point average in the Environmental Science and Studies Programs pre‐ and post‐implementation of the i‐NATURE curriculum. We also report an increase in student interest in pursuing STEM careers and the impacts of the i‐NATURE curricula on two undergraduate participants. This study indicates that academic and research experiences in STEM higher education programming, that incorporates cultural relevant ways of knowing and is reflective of Indigenous community values, can improve student success outcomes and garner interest in pursuing STEM careers.

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