Randi Shaw: diversity and inclusion in environmental action

On Earth Day, Randi Shaw and the Diverse Perspectives in Forestry Group (DPFG) led a caravan of seven vehicles up winding roads to Beazell Memorial Forest. Tall conifers swayed in the breeze of the misty morning as the 40 volunteers piled out of the vans. Their mission was to find and eradicate Scotch broom, one ofthe most visible invasive plant species in Oregon.

The Scotch broom needed to be removed in order to preserve the habitat of the endangered Taylor’s Checkerspot butterfly, and Shaw and the other members of DPFG decided to take the opportunity to build community within the College of Forestry and better connect to the larger Oregon State and Corvallis community.

Shaw recently completed her master’s degree in forest ecosystems and society, but this project was not part of her research.

“This is love and extra time,” she says.

Shaw cofounded the DPFG with fellow student Jamie Mosel during her first year at Oregon State.

“When I applied to graduate school, I made a decision that I wanted to make a commitment to work on issues related to diversity and equity and inclusion, even though I didn’t know very much about what that meant, at the time,” she says.

The mission of the DPFG includes exploring and promoting diverse viewpoints, people and approaches in environmental work. For their first meeting, Shaw said she anticipated about five people, and was instead greeted by over 20 including Dean Thomas Maness. Shaw says the club has continued to grow.

Because of her work with the DPFG, and in recognition of her outstanding leadership abilities, Shaw was awarded the 2016 Frances Dancy Hooks Award at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Breakfast in January and was asked to help lead the college’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategic Planning Committee.

The award was initiated in 1994, when Frances Dancy Hooks and Dr. Benjamin Hooks served as keynote speakers for the King celebration. The award recognizes students, staff or faculty who exemplify Frances Dancy Hooks’ work or promoting diversity through leadership.

Shaw hopes to continue promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in the future.

“I want more diverse people in environmental work because all kinds of people are affected by our environment,” she says. “All kinds of people should have the chance to be part of solving our environmental problems, and to enjoy working outside.”

For more information about the continued work of the DPFG email dpfg@lists.oregonstate.edu. Meetings are announced in CoF Today and Fernhopper emails.