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.

Friday, June 29, 2012

TERFers Teach SIFTers About Fire Ecology

This past Wednesday, the TERFers on the Fire Ecology Team had the chance to teach the new SIFTers about the projects they have been working on. The large group met early Wednesday morning and headed out to Shaw Nature Reserve for the day. Under the guidance of Dr. Rae Crandall and Dr. Alex Harmon-Threatt, the SIFTers were taught proper protocol for collecting seeds of Penstemon digitalis.

 Dr. Crandall and Dr. Harmon-Threatt looking very happy during their 
day of working with SIFT and TERF students.

The task for this SIFT work day was to help collect seeds of Penstemon digitalis. To do this, the SIFTers had to locate flag markers in the glades. Each flag had a colored string attached,the color of that string determined what colors they needed to look for on plants that were in a 1 meter radius of the flag.

Once the plants were found, the workers were instructed to carefully clip the seed pod off of the plant and place it in a labeled envelope.

With temperatures in St. Louis reaching into the one hundreds this week, the mentors made sure everyone was drinking plenty of water and taking breaks when needed.

Once all the collections were done for the day, everyone made their way to Tyson for the evening seminar. Despite being a hot day, the high schoolers seemed to have a good day.

One special part of this day was that the Fire Team TERFers were also able to experience being a mentor to younger students.

"I really liked how I was able to teach the project to the SIFTers even though I had just learned it myself a few days before." said Tyler Pokoski during the TERF debrief.


"It was awesome to work with the SIFTers knowing that was me a year ago." Nithya John said.


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