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.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Behind the Scenes of TERF: The Story of the New Intern

As we get closer to another summer of SIFT & TERF I guess it is time to introduce a familiar face to this blog.


My name is Jessica Plaggenberg and I am a former SIFTer and TERFer. I am now back for this summer as the TERF intern. Throughout the summer I will be driving the TERF Mobile from WashU to Tyson everyday, as well as keeping the blog up to date on all of this summer's happenings. But I'll first go ahead and talk about who I am and what this amazing program did for me.

I am a proud St. Louis native who graduated from Incarnate Word Academy. I just finished my freshman year at Truman State University where I am majoring in Biology. I absolutely love science, which leaves me to my career dilemma of wanting to research infectious diseases as well as aquatic ecosystems.

During high school I participated in both SIFT Cohort 2 and TERF Cohort 2, and it was here that I realized I loved science and wanted nothing more than to be a researcher. These programs transformed me from a very shy, quiet person, to an outspoken person who was actually able to work with people. I met a lot of goods friends throughout my years in SIFT and TERF and also did a lot of networking which has helped me in college.

I've been working on this summer's TERF session for about three weeks now, and let me tell you, it sure is different being behind the scenes. I never realized how much planning and organizing went into these programs. Since working with Susan Flowers, I have learned how to write lesson plans, how to prepare materials for incoming students, and most importantly, how to use a copy machine! The past few weeks have certainly been an adventure, and I'm positive it will become even more fun when the new TERFers arrive at Tyson next week.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

SIFT Orientation: Cohort 5

Earlier today, Shaw Nature Reserve hosted the 5th SIFT orientation. This year there will be 42 students from 26 different schools in the St. Louis area participating in SIFT. At this year's orientation the incoming students were introduced into what the SIFT/TERF program is. Shaw staff as well as Susan Flowers, SIFT/TERF project director, and Lauren Woods, WashU graduate student and TERF T.A., were all present for the orientation. Students were introduced to what they would be encountering this summer and what they would need to be prepared for. The SIFT week long training sessions begin June 11th and 18th. After seeing all the excited faces today, it looks like it will be a good summer for the SIFT program!

TERF Orientation: Cohort 4

It's unbelievable that we just had the 4th TERF Orientation today out at Tyson Research Center. All but one of the 16 new TERFers were able to make it for the annual orientation in the Living Learning Center classroom. It sure was exciting to see all the new and familiar faces there. During the hour and a half long orientation, Cohort 4 TERFers and their parents were giving an overview of the program and what their summers would look like. Susan Flowers welcomed the group and gave some background on Tyson Research Center. After going over logistics and basic TERF information, Susan introduced the TERF Teaching Assistant, Lauren Woods. Lauren talked to the participants  about the importance of scientific integrity when assisting with someone's research project. All in all, the orientation went smoothly, and everyone seemed excited to get ready! Just one more month until it all gets started!