Robert & Patricia Switzer Foundation

Like us on Facebook View our profile on LinkedIn Follow us on Twitter
Follow our news where it's convenient for you!
To get our daily updates via RSS
sign up for our feed.  


April, 2012


Switzer Programs and Network News

 Upcoming Conferences 

 Fellows in the News Highlights


PROGRAMSI.  Switzer Programs and Network News


1.   Inland Empire Study Tour:  Report and Photos!

2.   Planning for a New England Marine Conservation gathering

3.   Fellowship Program:  Interviewers Needed!

4.   Water Quality Monitoring in So Cal: Network Innovation Proposal

5.   April Highlights:  Switzer Network News, Discussions and Videos

6.   Missed the March Webinar?  Materials now available!

7.   Affinity Groups Launched

8.   Upcoming Events and Webinars





A dedicated group of Fellows accompanied Switzer staff and trustees on March 23-25th for an inside view of the challenges and opportunities at play in the Inland Empire of southern California.  We met with colleagues working on environmental justice, goods movement issues, air quality and land use, and were treated to a tour of the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden.  See Lissa's blog post about the weekend's activities and lessons learned, and click here for a link to photos!



back to top   




It's time to start planning a New England Fellows get-together, and we'd like to focus on a marine conservation theme.   We have a core group of Fellows in New England who have expressed interest in helping us plan something, but we could use some more help!   If you are interested in taking part in a planning call to be scheduled in mid-April, please contact Erin as soon as possible!  (Fellows need not be in New England to take part - we have Fellows on both coasts who work in this realm, so don't let geography dampen your enthusiasm.)


Family-oriented Fellows take note:  we may try to involve a family-friendly whale watch trip so we can meet the next generation of Switzer Fellows.  Stay tuned.  


back to top




We need interviewers for 2012 Fellowship selection!


In New England, we have a committed group of environmental colleagues lined up to help us interview Fellowship candidates, but we need some Fellows!  If you live in the greater Boston area and would like to act as an interviewer this year, please contact Erin asap.   We may be biased, but we can assure you it is really fun to meet the interviewees and you will come away from the day feeling heartened and humbled!

New England interview date:  Saturday, May 5th, Boston


In California, we have a great group of Fellows acting as interviewers, but we are in need of non-Fellow colleagues in environmental organizations or public agencies.  If you know of any colleagues in the Bay Area who might be interested, or who would benefit from getting to know us a little better by interviewing Fellowship candidates, please contact Erin as soon as possible. 

California interview date:  Saturday, May 12th, San Francisco


back to top




Fellows Christine Lee and Nancy Steele have put forth a Network Innovation proposal idea on the state of water quality monitoring practices in southern California.  They are looking for Fellow feedback on their idea.  Please check out their blog posting if you haven't already done so!


back to top   





Our Featured Fellow report this month is about Elizabeth Farnsworth's work on Go Botany!, a website funded by the National Science Foundation to engage people in identifying plants and foster social networking.  Elizabeth is the principal investigator for the site and explains how its cutting edge features work. 


BLOG DISCUSSION:  Art in Science Event Hosted by Fellows Jessica Shade and Tara Cornelisse

On March 3, 2012 Jessica and Tara partnered with the Expanding Your Horizons in Science and Mathematics organization to teach creative science communication to middle school girls.  Click on the link above to read about their experiences.


BLOG DISCUSSION:  Jeff Dlott Gets Back to his Entomology Roots

Jeff Dlott and Jennifer O'Leary connected earlier this year when they realized they were both Switzer Fellows (Jennifer is a teacher and Jeff's daughter is in her class).  Click on the link above to read Jennifer's blog post about the two lab sessions Jeff ran for her students.


BLOG DISCUSSION:  Learning from the Octopus

Rafe Sagarin's newest book is receiving lots of favorable press, and he gives Switzer Fellows a sneak peek at the contents this month on our blog.


BLOG DISCUSSION:  Foundations on the Hill - A Report from Executive Director Lissa Widoff on her recent meetings with Congressional representatives

Our fearless leader recently took part in a Council on Foundations annual conference in which Foundation representatives meet to network and learn about the latest policy news on Capitol Hill.  Lissa met with the Maine Congressional delegation and writes about her experience.


VIDEO SPOTLIGHT:  Converting Waste to Fuel for Families in Africa

For 2011 Switzer Fellow Jeannette Laramee, it all started with designing a school in Zambia, Africa.  That led to building systems that make biogas, which can save up to 10,000 pounds of firewood a year for a family in Africa.  Click on the link above to watch a short Switzer Network News video in which she explains the process used and the astonishing results.  


back to top   


missedwebinars6.  MISSED our march WEBINAR on work/life balance?  MATERIALS NOW AVAILABLE!


We heard from Margaret Rubega, Nancy Steele, Francisco Donez, Julia Ledewitz and Leslie Abramson about how they manage to balance their careers, families, hobbies and more.  Read a compilation of the presenters' thoughts, tips, and tricks on the subject, then continue the discussion at our website


back to top   




We launched 15 new affinity groups last month, bringing us to a total of 18 specialized listserves you can join to stay current on news that's relevant to you.  We will start sending monthly e-mails on all groups this month to help you keep track of new content on our website and news in the Network.  In the meantime, please feel free to use the affinity groups to engage your colleagues so that you can communicate, network, share ideas and foster collaborations with other Fellows.  


Click here to view the complete list of groups and request invitations to join additional ones. 


If you have any questions or problems joining, please contact Lauren.


back to top   






April 13:  Melissa Garren at TEDx Monterey "Sea Change"

Time:  9 am - 4 pm

Click here for more information.


April 30:  Rafe Sagarin at The Commonwealth Club:  Learning from the Octopus

Location:  The Commonwealth Club, San Francisco

Time:  5:30 - 7:30 pm

Click here for more information.


July 15-18:  2010 Switzer Fellows Kristy Deiner and Matt Hamilton, through a Switzer Network Innovation Grant, are developing a full day workshop to be presented at the Society for Conservation Biology North America Congress.  The workshop will focus on communicating science through film; specifically, how filmmakers and conservationists can connect people, nature and climate.  Fellows who are attending the conference, please contact Kristy or Matt if you'd like to learn more or to find out when their workshop will be scheduled.  

Location:  SCB North America Congress, Oakland, CA

Exact date and time:  TBD.




April 18:  "Go Botany!", with Elizabeth Farnsworth.  How do you develop consumer-oriented websites that both inform and inspire sustainable action?  Find out from Switzer Fellow Elizabeth Farnsworth as she takes us inside Go Botany!, a new website designed to help you identify over 1,200 of the most common native and naturalized New England plants.  It includes interactive features that allow users to find friends, collaborate on field surveys for plants, and make maps; teaching tools to encourage education in botany; and advanced ID tools to assist experienced botanists with complete identification.

Click here to register.

1 pm Eastern/10 am Pacific


April 26:  Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Reform - A look at funder efforts and priorities for a research and action agenda.

Invited speakers:  Virginia Clarke, Executive Director, Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders (; Kolu Zigbi, Program Officer for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems, Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation (; and Hugh Hogan, Executive Director, North Star Fund ( and 1998 Switzer Fellow.  This is a great opportunity to hear from foundation colleagues about the emergence of food systems as an organizing principle for cross-sector organizing and grant-making in food, agriculture, water, community development and justice.  Learn about several national and regional initiatives and see your current work in this context.  Switzer Fellow Hugh Hogan will moderate.

Click here to register.

1 pm Eastern/10 am Pacific


April 30:    Using Google Tools in Your OrganizationGoogle offers a dizzying array of free and low-cost tools to use in your organization.  Cloud email, shared calendars and simple websites are just the beginning.  This webinar looks at how you can shift your organization to cloud computing with Google, including tips on how to get buy-in at all levels.

1 pm Eastern/10 am Pacific


May 21How to Publish a Book.  Join us for a lively and informative event that will bring successful Switzer authors together for the first time!  Hear about their writing process, finding environmental subjects that sell, finding an agent, and more.  Eric Jay Dolin, Thor Hanson, Mark Elbroch, Susan Clark and others will offer their lessons, tips and tricks.

1 pm Eastern/10 am Pacific


June 25Blogging About Your Work.  Join us for a roundtable as Switzer Fellows discuss all of the ways you can use blogs and blogging to spread the word about your science, activism, and more.  We'll cover technical aspects like choosing a blogging platform, finding motivation to keep going in the early months, and working with collaborators to increase your reach and spread out the work.

1 pm Eastern/10 am Pacific



back to top


Please let Erin know if you will be attending any of these conferences.  Fellows are attending a number of them and we can help Fellows connect with each other. 
Also check our calendar for specific listings of Fellows who are presenting at these conferences.

Apr 25-26:   CERES Conference 2012, Boston, MA
May 4-7:       National River Rally, Portland, OR
Is there a conference or training event you think we should include on this calendar?  Please let
 Erin know.


back to top  


UPDATESIII.  'FELLOWS IN THE NEWS' HIGHLIGHTS  Here are some professional updates and highlights from Fellows in the News on the Switzer website!    


Hugh Hogan was quoted in the New York Daily News about North Star Fund's work to distribute grants for green space in Queens.


Nancy Steele was profiled in a Forbes article about women who excel in and beyond the boardroom.


Jennifer O'Leary's research on the effects of over-fishing on coral reefs was picked up worldwide.  Click here to read more.


Rafe Sagarin has been funded by the Department of Defense to focus on climate change impacts on their installations.  Read more.


Tavis Forrester's article in Conservation Biology provoked an op-ed response in The New York Times by the Breakthrough Institute.


Erin Hafkenschiel has been appointed the Director of the Bay Area Council Foundation.  Read more.  


Mark Elbroch is the new Project Leader of the Teton Cougar Project based in Jackson, WY. 


Emily Scott is a Visiting Professor for Spring 2012 at VU University Amsterdam.


John Urgo has taken a temporary position with the San Francisco County Transportation Authority to update the City's 30-year transportation plan.


Stephen Wheeler's latest book, "Climate Change and Social Ecology", will be published in April by Routledge.  Read more.  


David Wiley is featured in the new book, "Wildlife Heroes: 40 Leading Conservationists and the Animals They are Committed to Saving."  Read more


Eric Jay Dolin's book, "Fur, Fortune and Empire", is featured in a New York Times video op-ed on nutria and invasive species.


To read all recent Fellows in the News updates, please visit our website!


(Fellows, send your news and updates to Lauren!)  


back to top