CORVALLIS - The Aldo Leopold Leadership Program, a new communications training and networking program for environmental scientists, has selected its inaugural class of 20 fellows.

"This first group of fellows has been selected from a field of outstanding scientists," said Judith Vergun, program director at Oregon State University. "We're now organizing the training for them that will take place this year on June 15-21 at the Warm Springs Indian Reservation in Oregon, and on Sept. 9-14 in Washington, D.C."

According to Vergun, this five-year program will train environmental scientists to better understand the various communities in which scientific information is used. Upon completion of their training, Leopold Fellows will be better able to share scientific knowledge about environmental issues among the media, policy makers, and the private sector.

"Fellows within the Aldo Leopold Leadership Program are committed to the clear presentation of information about environmental issues," said Jane Lubchenco, chair of the steering committee for the program,"and there is a sustained need for scientifically credible communication in this area."

Members of the steering committee and advisory board for the program include representatives from leading universities, government and private agencies, and the news media. They are affiliated with Oregon State University, Stanford University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Time magazine, National Public Radio, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Science Foundation - and include a former member of the U.S. Senate.

"This year's cohort of 20 outstanding environmental scientists are committed to a more effective flow of information at all levels, locally, nationally, and internationally," Lubchenco said. "We're very grateful to the David and Lucile Packard Foundation for making this program possible."

Administered from Oregon State University offices and in its first year, this program is affiliated with the Ecological Society of America and is supported by a $1.5 million grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

Fellows chosen this year include: Andy Blaustein and Mark Hixon, Oregon State University; Jim Clark, Duke University; Gretchen Daily, Stanford University; Andy Dobson, Princeton University; Lisa Graumlich, Columbia University and Montana State University; Dennis Hartmann, University of Washington; Laura Huenneke, New Mexico State University; Rick Knight and Diana Wall, Colorado State University; Nancy Knowlton, Scripps Institute of Oceanography; David Lodge, University of Notre Dame; Bob Naiman, University of Washington; Dennis Ojima, Colorado State University; Stuart Pimm, University of Tennessee; Alison Power, Cornell University; Nancy Rabalais, Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium; Terry Root, University of Michigan; Bill Schlesinger, Duke University; and Nancy Targett, University of Delaware.

"The 20 fellows selected this year, as well as the 40 to be chosen during the next two years, are primarily tenured, academic environmental scientists who are active in research and teaching," Vergun said. "These mid-career scientists expect to take more of a leadership role in communicating environmental science to a broad audience within their areas of expertise and influence."

Those areas include water and air quality, diseases, fisheries, agriculture, contaminants, global climate change, and endangered species, among other topics. Training sessions will include such areas as providing leadership within the scientific community, scientific input to the policy process, communicating with the media, interacting with the business and corporate sectors, and working with non-governmental organizations.

More information about the program can be obtained by contacting Vergun at 541-737-4684.

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Judith Vergun, 541-737-4684