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, August 2, 2011

In her own words - TERFer Garima Thakkar

Participating in SIFT & TERF were probably some of the best decisions of my life. I've gained so much insight and knowledge into the scientific world - even I'm surprised at how much I know.

Before I started SIFT last year, I still hadn’t fully hit my I-love-the-environment phase and was kind of skeptical about it. I was soon intrigued by all the various activities we performed. Like making up our own dichotomous key for plants, or helping James Trager with his fascinating ant study. During this time I was starting to let go of my fear of nature and just let myself go with the flow. Overall, the SIFT program was a great experience to slowly and carefully expose me to the natural world.

This summer working at Tyson was an amazing experience! I really enjoyed the TERF program and one of the greatest things about working in a wonderful place like Tyson is all the different kinds of people you get to interact with. On your teams you are usually paired up with a post-doc, undergraduate, graduate student, and other high school students. Working on the same team almost everyday, not only helps you understand each other very well, but also creates a close-knit bond between everyone. Regardless, everyone at Tyson is super friendly and very happy to include each other in their activities. It’s such a wonderful atmosphere to work in!

Most importantly, you feel a sense of accomplishment and pride after you’re completed the TERF summer internship. I can proudly say that I’ve been pushed past my boundaries, introduced to new ideas I’d never even considered, and learned so many new things about this incredible environment that we are all a part of. Also, after completing how many summer jobs can you boast about having 537 chigger bites and still surviving? Not a lot. In the end, this program has really had a big impact on my life and I’m so very glad to be a part of my big, wonderful family at Tyson.

The SIFT & TERF programs have increased my awareness for the dangers/destruction that occurs to our environment on a daily basis. Also, they've shown me a different angle of science that I'd never seen before. Before entering into these programs, I had a very vague, stereotypical idea of what science was. Before, when I heard the word science or thought of a scientist, I always pictured a group of people wearing their white coats, holding their multi-colored test tubes and working away in their laboratory. Now that very word holds a very special meaning to me. Now, to me, a scientist can be anyone who has the curiosity to conduct research, strength to withstand possible failures, determination to continue forward, and the courage to never give up! :)

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