Building Community Within Your Zone

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Building Community Within Your Zone


Phoebe Sharp, AZC Zone 10, Rhodes College, and Will Slaton, ZC Zone 10, University of Central Arkansas

Attendees at the 2016 Zone 10 Meeting at the University of Central Arkansas. Photo courtesy of Will Slaton.

Every SPS chapter is different. Some are big, some are small. Some hold lots of events, some are laser-focused on one or two projects. That’s one of the reasons why bringing chapters together by zone is so important—it lets chapters learn from one another, get ideas, and see what works.

Our zone, Zone 10, encompasses 57 chapters in Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, covering more than 150,000 square miles. Being separated by such great distances makes it difficult to come together physically multiple times a year. That is why our annual Zone 10 meeting is so vital. When establishing relationships between chapters at the Zone 10 meeting, we are hoping to encourage longer-lasting relationships between chapters that survive and thrive despite physical distances. We have been pushing to create these stronger relationships between neighboring chapters. For example, the University of Memphis, Christian Brothers University, and Rhodes College, all in Memphis, cohosted trivia nights. These fun evenings created an incredible sense of community between chapters and made for some friendly competition between the three schools.

With social media, it’s hard to not get involved. Many chapters have their own Facebook or Instagram accounts already; this year, we want chapters to post pictures and updates from their personal events to our Zone 10 Facebook page to keep us all updated. This way, it will be easier for chapters to put together their chapter reports for SPS National, and we won’t have to wait until spring to get ideas from other chapters. 

Rhodes College SPS members conduct eye-catching demos to attract new students to their annual kickoff picnic. Photo courtesy of Phoebe Sharp.

What do the chapters have to say?

Eleanor Hook, Rhodes College:

Zone meetings are a fantastic place to meet other SPS members. Any activities that split up chapters and/or require participants to engage with one another are great for this. We also try to learn about other chapters' strategies for boosting participation and what their priorities are (i.e., outreach, social events, academic support).

Sarah Pazos, Louisiana Tech:

Social media can definitely play a role! I love staying connected over the zone page! While we have a chapter page, it is mainly used to share interesting science news articles.

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