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 19, 2012

Fire Ecology Team - June

The Fire Ecology Team posing with their new "Flower Power" tattoos.
Jackie Edmonds (TERFer), Tyler Pokoski (TERFer), Nithya John (TERFer), Dr. Rae 
Crandall (Researcher), Eleanor Pearson (undergraduate), Mikala Evans (undergraduate)

The Fire Ecology TERFers have been hard at work over the last 2 weeks. While working with Dr. Rae Crandall, the high schoolers have also been working side by side with Washington University undergraduates Eleanor Pearson and Mikala Evans. This team has been meshing well with one another as they work in Dr. Crandall's numerous plots. 

Even though the work they have been doing has been tedious, the group is looking forward to the overall outcome of the project.  This project is looking at whether fire can be used as a management tool to control the spread of invasive plants such as Lespedeza cuneata and Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard).  Dr. Crandall set up multiple plots at both Tyson Research Center and Shaw Nature Reserve that were scheduled to be burned on different months. The experiment used various factors such as when to burn and how much fuel to use as a way to see how Lespedeza and garlic mustard populations would survive.

Since the experimental plots were burned last summer, the TERFers this summer will not get a chance to burn the plots. Instead, these TERFers have been locating and measuring each individual plant in the plots to see how the populations are handling the burns. 

While dealing with the tedious data collecting, the three TERFers (Nithya, Jackie, and Tyler) have been finding lots of ways to stay upbeat. Everyone on the team has a nickname within the group and they are all pretty comfortable joking around with one another. 
"The team meshes well together since we are all odd. Even though our work may be tedious, the people make it fun and time goes by quickly when measuring," says Nithya John. 
  The Fire Ecology Team enjoying slushies after a long hot day in the
 experimental plots. Tyler, Eleano,, Nithya, Mikala, and Jackie

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