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.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

TERFers are hard at work on posters

Summer has turned to fall and that means participants in the TERF program spend a lot of their free time on the weekends working on scientific posters.

TERFers Delilah Sayer, Paige Waskow, and Nicole Wang spend a Sunday afternoon in the Tyson LLC Computer Lab working on research posters. Delilah's project is about mosquito larvae parasite survivorship (Team Tick-quito), Paige's project is looking at the effects of fire and topography on herbaceous forest plants (Forest Biodiversity Team), and Nicole is exploring differences in pollinator visits to prairie plants in diverse and non-diverse settings (Natural Enemies).

The TERFers are working towards poster presentations at the Washington University Fall Undergraduate Research Symposium on Saturday, October 21. Collaborative poster development with their Tyson mentors and presentation of their research at the symposium are an important way that the TERF program provides a jump start towards a scientific research career.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

In search of Monarch butterflies on SIFT Fall Saturday

It was unseasonably hot for the 10th SIFT Fall Saturday, but that did not deter the hardy SIFTers from venturing out to capture and tag Monarch butterflies as part of the Monarch Watch project. By the end of the day, they had set a SIFT all time record of 20 tagged Monarchs!

James demonstrated netting technique and how to safely isolate a butterfly within a net.

Sam looks on as Aileen talks Sabreena through gently capturing the butterfly with wings folded closed.
SIFTers went off trail and into the prairie in search of butterflies.

Aileen pointed out the visual difference between a Viceroy and a Monarch.
Margie fearlessly captured a Viceroy within her net and very gently took it out.

Can you tell a Viceroy from a Monarch?
There were no Monarchs near the wetlands, so these SIFTers headed to join the rest of the group at the air field.
San brought his Monarch to Julia for tagging.
Randy braved the brush!
The SIFTers took a break in the Cypress Slough, one of Shaw's magical hidden treasures.
Daniel followed a Monarch deep into the tall brush of the Shaw air field.
We found a decidedly not gray gray treefrog and had to take a few pictures.
Kayla and Julia worked together to record and tag Kayla's capture.
The hot afternoon ended with a ride in the Wilderness Wagon. The dusty breeze felt great!


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Harvesting prairie plants at Tyson

Working with Claudia Stein (right) paid off in ice cream during a break from the heat.
Casimir hard at work.
Julia counting, counting, and counting.
Haley and Grant working together to harvest plant biomass and seeds.

Sometimes the flowers have friends.

Monday, July 10, 2017

June TERFers wrap up as the July session gets underway

We closed out our amazing June TERF session last week with lunch on the lookout. TERFers discussed how they overcame challenges and grew individually over the past month. On Monday we welcomed our July TERFers. They learned how to be a TERFer at Tyson then set out on their Tour de Tyson Challenge!

Enjoying lunch with a view! 
June TERFers Kevin, Delilah, Nicole, and Paige. (Not pictured Eileen and Anna)
July TERFers finding clues on the Tour de Tyson Challenge! 
From left to right: Owen Kathriner, Ishan Singh, Genesis Dancer, Julia Beliz, and Amy Stimmel

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

SIFTers work with the Natural Enemies Team at Tyson

SIFTers help the Natural Enemies team look at above ground plant-pathogen interactions in a large mesocosm experiment at Tyson Research Center. They first assisted undergraduate fellow Sarah Stockman who is looking into phenology traits of tallgrass prairie species receiving different treatments in the mesocosm experiment. They then helped Aspen Workman, SIFT & TERF alumni, conduct a census of the types of pathogens that are damaging plants and the severity of the damages compared to plants in different growing conditions.

San Kwon (left) and Kayla Wallace (right) taking data for the Natural Enemies Team.
San Kwon taking phenology data for the Natural Enemies Team.
Kayla Wallace working with Aspen Workman (left) to take plant pathogen data.
Kayla Wallace learning data collection techniques from Sarah Stockman (right).

Friday, June 30, 2017

June TERFers hard at work

Our June TERFers have been hard at work at Tyson and abroad! TERF students work alongside undergraduate students to carry out the research agendas of their individual teams.
Nicole collects pollen at Shaw Nature Reserve for a plant pollinator study the Natural Enemies Team is running.  
Delilah (left) captures ticks for Team Tick-quito with undergraduates Aaron (center) and Hanna (right) as part of their ongoing vector research.
Anna takes plant phenology data with Sarah, an undergraduate student.
Kevin takes tree census data for the Forest Team.
Paige tags a tree after taking its diameter and identifying it down to the species level.
Eileen works on her individual project comparing wild clover plants outside of the research garden to the plants they are growing inside the garden.

Friday, June 16, 2017

SIFT Training Week: Friday


Students spent the morning completing an observational study of ants. Using cookies and deli meat as bait, SIFTers observed what species of ants showed up, which came first, and how they interacted with the food. Convening back in the assembly building, the group listed out all of the species observed and which baits ants were attracted to. After lunch, students used their observations to develop a research question. This guided them into designing a full research project using best practices in ecological experimental design. SIFTers hard work was rewarded with ice cream as the training week came to a close.

Julia Berndt scribes observations. 

SIFTers work collaboratively to identify ants. 

Dr. James Trager (right) shares ant observations with Jill Tayon (left) and Raj Pandya (center). 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

SIFT Training Week: Wednesday

SIFTers spent the day focusing on aquatic ecosystems! The group conducted abiotic tests and biotic sampling at Brush Creek and Wolf Run Lake. From the data they collected, SIFTers where able to predict if the aquatic sites were healthy or polluted.

SIFTers take the Wilderness Wagon to the two aquatic sites.

Searching for aquatic organisms.

Taking abiotic measurements from Brush Creek.

SIFTers collaborate to identify aquatic organisms.

Teens play charades after lunch.

High-fives for everyone!

Biotic sampling in Wolf Run Lake.

SIFTers work to identify and record the organisms they caught.