Graduate Student Safety Week

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Graduate Student Safety Week

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Author :
Alex White
Graduate Student Safety Week

AW Contact profile image
Author :
Alex White

 Brief Project Description 
I conducted a field safety week for graduate students in the College of Natural Resources. Students come into the department with different levels of comfort in forested environments, and this training was designed to serve as a risk mitigation intervention and to give all students the basic skills they need to conduct fieldwork safely. The trainings included:

 Field Safety Week Schedule 

June 21-25  

Monday, June 21: Auto safety day  

-Afternoon session: Hitching and backing a trailer w/ Bas Kimlinger, Michigan State Capital Facilities Team Member 

-Evening session: Safety concerns for field researchers from underrepresented backgrounds, CANR DEI Office 


Tuesday, June 22: Know before you go day  

-Morning session: Overview of field safety equipment w/ Alex White, MSU Forestry PhD student 

-Afternoon session: Snakes of Michigan w/ Brianna Mims, M.S., Ecology and Evolutionary Biology  


Wednesday, June 23: Wilderness First Aid Certification  

-All day w/ Great Lakes EMS Academy 


Thursday, June 24: Wilderness First Aid Certification  

-All day w/ Great Lakes EMS Academy 


Friday, June 25: In case of emergency day  

-Morning session: Land navigation w/ Kasey Wilson, MSU GIS Professional 

-Afternoon session: Self-defense w/ Officer Melvin, Lansing PD 




Who did you work with (college administrators, key stakeholders, offices on campus, etc.) and what was their role in your project? 

I worked with Lauren Noel, Kelly Millenbaugh, and Laura Bix. Lauren supported me with logistics and registration. She helped me reserve a meeting room for the event and built a registration page. Kelly Millenbaugh committed funds to pay for the wilderness first aid training. Laura Bix supported project development. We’re still working together to make safety week happen again next summer. I also worked with the CANR Diversity Office to develop a training on the unique safety concerns faced by researchers from underrepresented backgrounds. I worked with individual presenters to develop and schedule sessions that met the needs of graduate student researchers. 

How did you manage relationships with key stakeholders in your college to achieve your project goals? 

I managed the relationships by setting up regular meetings on zoom and seeking input from these stakeholders. I kept them updated as I developed the project. 

What has been the impact of your project? Who was your target audience and what difference did your project make for them?  

My target audience was graduate students in natural resources. My project made them feel safer in the field. The students I spoke to did not have any formal safety training and were grateful for the opportunity. In my post event survey, student expressed an interest in participating in the training again. I hope that the training will help reduce injuries in the field. I intend to continue working on this project to develop more of a culture of field safety in the department. 

If someone were to continue your work in the future, what advice would you have for them?  

I would suggest that the person meet in person with students to get input on the types of training that they need. I had a zoom meeting with students but we couldn’t meet in person because of COVID. I would also suggests using the great resources that the university has and involving faculty and staff from the college. Everyone I worked with was excited to help and was very supportive of the project. With campus being open again, I think there are more opportunities to involve additional stakeholders. I would also suggest working on everything as early as possible. That helps to reduce stress and make the event go smoothly. 

How did this work contribute to your personal leadership development? 

This project gave me a chance to work with fellow graduate students to create a program that was helpful to them. I sought their input on the types of programming that they needed to be safer in the field. Doing this project involved working with peers, faculty members, and administrators. Working with faculty and staff gave me a chance to present ideas for improving the department. That was an important aspect, because I wanted to be respectful and gracious while also suggesting changes.  

Posted by:
Emma Dodd The MSU Graduate Leadership Institute
#programs #student advocacy / representation