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.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Day with Team Turtle

Maddy uses radio equipment to track a tagged turtle in Forest Park.
Today I got to follow a couple of the TERFers into the field for the first time. Maddy and Adam’s turtle team duties took them to Forest Park, where we met up at the Saint Louis Zoo with Jamie, Audrey, and Eileen, who are members of the Institute for Conservation Medicine. Jamie and her team have been tagging and tracking turtles in the park and brought Maddy and Adam out to lend a hand with their newfound expertise. The job for the day was to track down and take measurements on a handful of tagged turtles, replace another turtle’s old tag with a new one, and—hopefully—find a new turtle to tag.

We hit the ground running when Eileen found a new turtle in one of the denser areas of vegetation in the park. Jamie, Maddy, and Adam added the new turtle, which they named Atticus, to the roster (each region of Forest Park has a pair of turtles tagged, so Atticus already has a counterpart: Agatha).

Adam and Jamie take measurements of Atticus before tagging him.
The rest of the morning was spent finding previously-tagged turtles to check on how they’re doing. Adam and Maddy tracked like old pros and recorded and weighed each turtle they found. By early afternoon, we had found all the turtles we needed, with the exception of Elmo, who would need a new tag. We stopped for a quick lunch before heading back out to find him. Maddy tracked him to a woody spot near a bicycle trail, and we removed the old tag and gave Elmo a new one. And that was that! Jamie thanked and complimented Adam and Maddy for a job well done, and we headed back to Tyson to wrap up the afternoon.

Emily
TERF Intern

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