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Interview mit Peter Stimmler zur Auszeichnung mit dem Nachwuchs-Engagement-Preis des LBV

Interview between Gabriela Paz Vielma Reyes (GCE student and student assistant at the BayCEER Office) and Peter Stimmler (PhD student at the Department of Agroecology and founder of the LBV Hochschulgruppe Bayreuth) on 18 November 2021

Gabriela: You have been awarded by the LBV for your great commitment to the LBV university group Bayreuth, congratulations! When, why and how was the LBV university group was founded and what is your passion behind this?

Peter: I started about thinking to found a group for students in 2018 and founded it officially in 2019. This was one year after I started my master studies, I studied molecular ecology, more theoretically laboratory-based studies where there are not many possibilities to get in contact with nature and this was something that really disturbed me. I studied molecular medicine before in my bachelor studies and there you have an object of study that is the human being so if you are working as an ecologist you should get in touch also with the object you are studying, in this case nature. This you should do outside not only in a laboratory, because ecology and nature are complex and you just can’t understand it by reading books and making experiments. You have to go out and you have to realize that you also are a part of the system and this really helped me to get a bigger understanding of ecology. I wanted to share this with the students because when I was asking my fellow students questions about ecology and nature, the answers where often on the surface or false and then I invited them to go all together to some excursions outside.

My goal was to help other people realizing their own idea what they are interested in, for example if you are interested in plants, let’s do something about plants, let’s do a presentation or an excursion. I tried to help people to deepen their knowledge about the topic that they are most interested, taking the people by the hand helping them realize their ideas and deepening their knowledge. We started with a dozen of students, there we shaped the summer festival of LBV in the Lindenhof and I wanted that we have a wide diversity topic to cover.

This was about the time of the bees dying discussion and everyone was just talking about bees instead of other insects for example. We wanted to give people an input about these insects dying also behind the bees, the bees are of course part of this ecosystem but you have to understand the whole ecosystem and the problems in that ecosystem. So, then I mobilized a dozen of students to present their own knowledge in this festival and based on this we met every 2 weeks again. We were looking for ideas what we can do starting our own projects and we started writing this program, this year is the 7th edition. By this we want to show people what you can do and explain them different topics and also give them the possibility to do something practical outside the university and give them a free space where they can develop their ideas and their knowledge without this academical pressure you always have but helping the people finding themselves and getting their own idea of the world but founded on scientific data but not just repeating the ideas of the professor.

Gabriela: You were the founding member, right?

Peter: The LBV already existed and it is one of the biggest and oldest in Bayern, but yes, I was the founding member of this university group.

Gabriela: Tell me more in detail about your work that made you deserve the award.

Peter: For founding this group and building it on time, with persistence, throughout all this years there has been a lot of work being done, many hours spent and difficulties but this has been all worth it because of the wonderful group we have and how we have inspired other people to join but also to create their own groups and they can learn from our experience.

Last Tuesday 30.11.21 there was an online meeting with more than 30 people from all over the country that wanted to start a group and were inspired by this work and asked me for help and guidance. This is truly an example of dedication and hard work that with time you can see the fruits of putting your passion and working it together to help people get involved in sustainability and together taking care of this fragile world looking for a better future for next generations.

Gabriela: Do you recommend students to join? Or is it only for people with expertise, background, or anyone can join?

Peter: Everyone can participate and we invite everyone who is interested to approach us and talk to us. You can learn with the others, your peers, you can also enjoy nature even without understanding the process or knowing the names of the species we observe. The idea is to make the students sensitive to these topics and that they understand the importance of nature conservation and beauty of life itself, to share the fascination for nature.

Gabriela: You have topics for a thesis, how does this work?

Peter: Yes, we have many topics that can be used for investigation in Bachelor or Master thesis, they can be in English or German and have many different associated skills and we can also help to be the link between the students and the projects and in this case both parts can benefit and learn from each other. One important thing is that first you need a professor in the university that will be willing to be your guide and to have an external topic of research. Currently we are working together with the university to develop an official procedure for an external thesis.

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