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.

Monday, January 25, 2016

SIFT & TERF Winter Weekend

As part of a continuing tradition after the TERF Symposium at Tyson, the TERFers joined the SIFTers at Shaw Nature Reserve for an overnight.

Before dinner on Saturday evening, the SIFTers rotated through casual conversations with the TERFers, fire ecologist Dr. Rae Crandall, anthropology graduate student Kelsey Nordine, and World Bird Sanctuary naturalist Tess Rogers. Rae has hosted many SIFTers and TERFers on her research projects over the years and Kelsey is looking to include SIFTers in her dissertation research soon. For Tess it was a homecoming since she is a SIFT & TERF alumnae from the very first cohort. We were thrilled that she was able to bring an owl with her!

TERFers field questions from the SIFTers about what TERF is really like.

Fire ecologist Dr. Rae Crandall shares her career journey with SIFTers.

Washington University graduate student Kelsey Nordine takes questions from SIFTers.

Kelsey explains some of the techniques used in her paleoethnobotany research.

World Bird Sanctuary naturalist Tess Rogers talks about her job with SIFTers.

Tess and Barnaby

There were lots of owl selfies.

On Sunday morning, the SIFTers learned about winter ecology with Dr. James Trager while the TERFers hiked down to the Meramec River to survey the flood damage.

The TERFers had to make a stop in the cave where they found a frosty hibernating bat.

Floating ice makes beautiful natural art.

The TERFers (left) encounter the SIFTers (right) in the field. Who is going to make it back to the Assembly Building first?

TERF Symposium

The TERF Symposium was Saturday, January 23 in the Living Learning Center at Tyson. There were well over 90 attendees including TERFer parents and family members, teachers, friends, SIFTers, Shaw education staff, SIFT & TERF alumni, and wonderful scientist mentors from the Tyson community.

Turtle Team TERFer Katie Buatois explains her box turtle health research to SIFT director Lydia Toth.

Natural Enemies TERFer Jenita Larry describes her plant functional traits data to SIFTers.

Plant Invaders TERFer Aspen Workman explains the design of her research into the fitness of related exotic and native plant species.

Turtle Team TERFer Bailee Warsing shows how to safely hold a box turtle.

Plant Invaders TERFer Elizabeth Poor discusses how the functional traits of invasive thistle, Carduus nutans, differ from native prairie plants.

Jenita Larry is congratulated by Kathi Beyer, external evaluator for the SIFT and TERF programs.

Kathi Beyer and SIFT instructor Aileen Abbott are thrilled to get updates from SIFT & TERF alumni Chloe Pinkner (second from left) and Adam Vorel (right).

Team Tick-quito TERFer Lexie Beckermann shares her research on the effects of resource abundance on invasive and native mosquitos.

TERFer Lexie Beckermann shares her research with SIFTer Hayley Huntley.

Turtle Team TERF mentors Sharon Deem (center) and Stephen Blake (right) talk with a TERF parent.

SIFTers Lydia Young (left) and Aleah Brooks (center) share a laugh.

Turtle Team TERFers Bailee Warsing and Katie Buatois gave a formal slide presentation about their summer research and reflected on the TERF experience.

Plant Invaders TERFer Aspen Workman shared thoughts about how participating in TERF has influenced future plans.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Communicating SIFT & TERF to the membership of ESA

We are pleased to announce that the story of SIFT & TERF has been published in The Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America.

Flowers, S.K., Beyer, K.M. 2016. Early entry into ecology: Authentic field research experiences for high school youth. The Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America, 97(1), 111-122.

Monday, January 4, 2016

SIFT 2016-17 application is available!

A total of 318 students from 65 separate high schools have participated in SIFT since 2008 and we are committed to continued participant representation across the diverse communities of St. Louis.

The new on-line application for SIFT 2016-17 is available! 

The first page of the application includes details of the program and key dates. Our primary target is current 10th graders, but we will also consider applications from 9th and 11th graders.

We would appreciate your sharing the application link with high school students who may be interested in exploring environmental field research as a possible career!