This educational collaboration between Washington University's Tyson Research Center and the Missouri Botanical Garden's Shaw Nature Reserve is designed to engage St. Louis area high school students in scientifically-based exploration of the natural world. Linked programs of field training (SIFT) and field research (TERF) provide teenagers with experiences that realistically reflect research in environmental biology. Participating teens learn a variety of field investigation skills and then have the opportunity to put those new skills to work assisting career scientists with real research projects.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Digging in

During the second week of TERF session 1, the teens were finally able to use the new Living Learning Center as a base of operations.

They were given the chance to take the self-guided walking tour of the building. Small posters on interior and exterior structures call attention to features like the invasive Eastern Red Cedar siding that was harvested to help restore Missouri glade habitat.

The teens didn't spend much time in the building, though. More often than not, they could be found in the field.

Hannah worked with first-year grad student Kristin Powell. Her research looks at the impact of invasive bush honeysuckle on the native understory plant community.

Miranda worked with Dr. Laura Burkle, investigating the interactions between invasive plant species and insect pollinators.

Yanwen worked with Dr. Tiffany Knight and Dr. Mickey Schutzenhofer on a long-term study examining the importance of factors like order of introduction and management practices on the success of plants that invade prairies.

Josef's mentor was Dr. Tim Dickson, whose primary study system for the summer was glades. However, the prairie team often took him out to their plots when collecting data on plants that can be tricky to identify.

Pete (sporting his beloved cowboy hat) worked with the aquatic team on a variety of projects studying biodiversity and community structure in ponds.

Tess worked with the aquatic team as well. Above, she samples a pond at Shaw Nature Reserve - Tyson's partner for the SIFT and TERF programs.

Katherine worked with Dr. Brian Allan, researching infectious diseases carried by ticks and their hosts. Here, she records data next to one of the traps used for surveying small mammals like mice.

Asad also worked with Dr. Brian Allan on the tick team. Here, he collects an empty trap meant for slightly larger animals like squirrels.

The teens returned from project set-up or data collection tuckered out and often with a few ticks. Yet, it seemed they always managed to laugh off the challenges and share their favorite anecdotes from the day while completing their daily reflection or during their ride in the carpool.

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