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Virtual Student Professional Development Series 

SWCS is partnering with MANRRS and the Soil Health Institute to bring you a new virtual event series for students and early career professionals looking to enter the conservation field. Learn from experts as they share advice on the following topics: finding the career for you, financial literacy, thriving at work and school, and personal branding.

Thursdays at 6 p.m. EST

  • September 22, 2022
  • October 20, 2022
  • January 26, 2023
  • February 23, 2023

This virtual workshop series is for students and early career professionals in natural resources, conservation, and related STEM fields working toward a more sustainable world. Free and open to all!

Attendees will:

  • connect with speakers well-versed in natural resources, education, and agriculture;
  • gain exposure to multiple conservation organizations;
  • build their network; and
  • earn a certificate of attendance.

Registration for each training session is required.

Session 1: Find the Career for You 

September 22, 2022, at 6 p.m. EST
Session Topic: Find the Career for You

The search can be tough – discover how to find a career that’s the best fit for you! 

Watch the Recording

Speakers: Ms. Beatrice Faulkner and Dr. LaKisha Odom

Photo of Beatrice FaulknerMs. Beatrice Faulkner is a professional life and career coach who has spent the last six years helping clients create balanced success. She started her career coaching executives on emotional intelligence in the workplace. Craving more personal fulfillment, she opened her coaching practice, Creative Solutions Hub LLC in 2016, a business rooted in high-level personal development. Beatrice says she is fortunate to have found her calling as a coach and is passionate about making a difference in other people's lives.  

Additionally, Ms. Faulkner has been a practicing Scientist for over 20 years and works as a Forensic DNA expert. She holds a B.S. in Biology from the S.U.N.Y. and an M.S. in Pharmacy with a concentration in Forensic DNA and Serology from the University of Florida.

Photo of LaKisha OdomDr. LaKisha Odom joined the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) in September 2016 as a scientific program director to pursue her commitment to promoting the use of innovative science and interdisciplinary thinking to tackle today’s complex challenges in food and agriculture. She is also committed to cultivating increased diversity in a new generation of food and agriculture scientists.

Odom developed her passion for the inter-sectional space of research and policy while working at the US EPA in the Office of Research and Development and the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response’s Brownfield’s Redevelopment Program. In her academic career at Tuskegee University, she continued to seek out opportunities to work in interdisciplinary and collaborative science, as a CREATE-IGERT fellow and as a researcher at Teagasc Research facility in Carlow, Ireland. She then had the opportunity to combine her passion for interdisciplinary innovative research and policy when selected to serve as an early career intern for the Public Policy Board of the American Phytopathological Society. In 2013, Odom became an American Association for the Advancement of Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the US Department of Agriculture Biotechnology Regulatory Service, where she managed a diverse portfolio which included working with the OECD Working Group for the Harmonization of Regulatory Oversight in Biotechnology.

Odom received her bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Tuskegee University, her master’s degree in environmental resource policy from The George Washington University and her doctorate in integrative biosciences from Tuskegee University.

Odom presented during the Plenary Session of the 77th SWCS International Annual Conference in Denver! 

Session 2: Financial Literacy 

October 20, 2022, at 6 p.m. EST 
Session Topic: Financial Literacy 

Be smart with your money – learn about personal financial management, debt, budgeting, and more!      

Watch the Recording

Speaker: Ms. Penny Gomez

Photo of Penny GomezMs. Penny Gomez (Money Penny) is a presenter, financial planner, recruiter & business owner.

Penny Gomez works with a financial services company helping families achieve their financial goals. Helping families protect their income, eliminate debt, plan for retirement, and accumulate wealth. She does “How Money Works” presentations. Learn about the “rule of 72”, debt stacking, mutual funds, and of course “how money works.” Also, she owns her own accounting business, working with companies and individuals performing financial accounting services and filing taxes. Penny Gomez graduated from Northern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accountancy.


Session 3: Thriving at Work & School

January 26, 2023, at 6 p.m. EST 
Session Topic: Thriving at Work & School

Learn how to maximize your mentoring relationships. 

Supplementary file: "Identifying and Communicating Needs"

Watch the Recording

Speaker: Dr. Fátima Sancheznieto

Photo of Fatima SancheznietoDr. Fátima Sancheznieto completed her PhD in Biomedical Sciences through an NIH/Oxford fellowship that was funded by an HHMI Gilliam fellowship. She studied blood stem cell formation during embryogenesis and developed protocols for deriving them from pluripotent stem cells in vitro. During her PhD years at Oxford University she became an advocate for healthy and supportive lab environments and joined the board of directors of the advocacy organization, Future of Research, of which she is now the President. As part of that advocacy work, Dr. Sancheznieto has sat on a working group at the National Institutes of Health tasked with providing recommendations on the NIH’s Next Generation’s Researcher’s Initiative.

After a two-year postdoc at UW – Madison studying STEM training environments and programs, specifically for postdocs and graduate students, she became an assistant researcher on the same team, continuing her work on curricular development, training evaluation, and institutional change.

Session 4: Branding U

February 23, 2023, at 6 p.m. EST 
Session Topic: Branding U

Be memorable and find your personal brand. 

Watch the Recording

Speaker: Ms. Yai Vargas

Photo of Yai VargasYai Vargas, aka the LinkedIn Ninja, is a career & diversity consultant. She helps professionals gain clarity on their personal brand and encourages thought leadership with authenticity. Having been on LinkedIn since 2006, she was an early adopter and can help optimize your profile, find your next role and share your subject matter expertise with confidence. 

With a background in diversity & multicultural strategy, Yai is a natural-born community builder and has designed professional development programs for corporations, nonprofits & universities. 

Yai also founded The Latinista, an organization for Latinas and Women of Color invested in career and leadership development. The Latinista has chapters in NYC, Miami, Chicago, and California.

Past Event: Top Ten Tricks to Ace Your Interview

SWCS hosted our first Virtual Student Event, Wednesday April 13, 2022, via Zoom. Staff highlighted resources and opportunities for students within SWCS. We then shared our “Top 10 Tricks to Ace your Interview.” SWCS member, Dr. Loutrina Staley from the Soil Health Institute, joined for our question and answer segment and shared some great advice for interviews! The event slides are available here.

How to Ace Your Interview: SWCS Virtual Student Event from SWCS on Vimeo.