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A Day's Work: The TERFers have arrived!

June TERFers pause for a photo at the highest elevation point at Tyson Research Center, one of the several places they had to find during the Tour de Tyson Challenge on their first day.

June TERFers pause for a photo at the highest elevation point at Tyson Research Center, one of the several places they had to find during the Tour de Tyson Challenge on their first day.

A Day's Work is a series of posts that will transport you to the field with our summer teen employment programs. You might get dirty just by reading them!

Tyson Research Center is Washington University’s field station and home to several large-scale environmental biology research projects. At Tyson we do BIG science and need a lot of helping hands. Through the Tyson Environmental Research Fellowships (TERF) program, St. Louis area teens can work as paid members of research teams alongside university scientists, postdoctoral researchers, graduate students, and undergraduate students.

On Monday, June 12 our first batch of TERFers arrived! After introductions and going through the “Guide to Being a TERFer”, they spent the morning getting acquainted with the many research sites spread across Tyson’s 2000 acres. Each of the TERFers will spend 4 weeks working with one specific research team, but we always want to make sure they get exposure to as many different projects as possible. 

The Tour de Tyson Challenge let the students brush up on their map reading skills and become more familiar with the layout and history of Tyson Research Center. Hidden at each location was a clue to help them get to the next spot. While seeing some of the sites where they will be working this month, the TERFers had to collaborate as a team using effective communication to find all the locations on their own.

  • Living Learning Center
  • Hoop houses
  • Solar panel array
  • Tyson Headquarters
  • Research garden
  • Research lab
  • Observatory
  • Forest Dynamics Plot
  • Experimental glades
  • High Point at Tyson
  • SPFD Burn Plot 11
  • Mincke Quarry Cave

The last stop on the tour provided a welcome break from the summer heat. The cool quarry cave is a favorite place for our research teams to visit as a reward for hard work. And we were lucky to see some cave salamanders wriggling away from us!

Once they navigated back to Tyson Headquarters, the TERFers joined their undergraduate teammates for lunch on the deck. Every TERFer had been to Tyson several times last summer as a participant in the Shaw Institute for Field Training (SIFT) program, so it was familiar territory and each of them fit right in. After lunch the TERFers were whisked away by their team leaders for new scientific adventures on the Tyson teams - the Forest Biodiversity Team, the Natural Enemies, the Clover Cyanide Bombers, and Team Tick-quito.

by Susan Flowers, Education and Outreach Coordinator, Tyson Research Center

Tyson undergraduate fellow Aspen Workman (left) explains how rain water captured from the roof is used to water prairie plant experiments in the Tyson research garden. Aspen was a participant in the SIFT and TERF programs during high school and now plans for a career in ecological research.

Tyson undergraduate fellow Aspen Workman (left) explains how rain water captured from the roof is used to water prairie plant experiments in the Tyson research garden. Aspen was a participant in the SIFT and TERF programs during high school and now plans for a career in ecological research.

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A Day's Work: Baden Outdoor Youth Corps Gets Rockin'

A Day's Work is a series of posts that will transport you to the field with our summer teen employment programs. You might get dirty just by reading them!

It’s 7:29 AM, day two of the Outdoor Youth Corps (OYC) program.  The sunshine sets the golden steeple atop a nearby church a’blaze as the crew of 10 teens gathers in the Baden Community Garden, just over a mile from the banks of the mighty Mississippi. On this fine morning we hop in a big van headed for the Bio Research and Development Growth (BRDG) Park at Danforth Plant Science Center in Creve Coeur for a tour of the facilities, and to experience Chromatography with St. Louis Community College’s Education Outreach specialist, and Baden Community Gardener, Angi Taylor.

After a quick trip across Northern St. Louis County, we arrive at the BRDG Park campus.  The students are eager to hop out of the van, having endured 20+ minutes of loud classic rock, (a pump up attempt dialed in by yours truly, Nelson Curran, supervisor for the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Outdoor Youth Corps).  Following a quick pep talk, we walk directly towards the thriving bio retention basin in the east lot for a quick, impromptu conversation on storm water management in urban settings.  It’s there we are initially greeted by our host, Angi Taylor, and after a quick introduction, we head inside to one of the many labs used by students, businesses, researchers and staff at BRDG Park for educational programming, and bio research.

I follow behind the crew as we stop to say “hello” to Dr. Richard Norris, Director of Life Sciences for St. Louis Community College, Florissant Valley.  “We can’t get our Bio Tech jobs filled fast enough!” he states boldly, as he pops out of his office to welcome the crew.  What a way to start our trip! After introductions and a wrap-up, we continue on to the lab.  The room is ripe with possibilities as we begin our first activity, a T-Shirt Chromatography activity in which students explore solubility, polarity, and diffusion while creating their own t-shirt to take home.  Angi explains how the activities we have lined up relate to current environmental challenges, innovations, and bio-research going on locally, across the US, and abroad; citing, specifically, the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.  The OYC crew is locked in, and after some quick vocab review and a lab equipment overview, we take Sharpie to tee and alcohol to Sharpie, diffusing colored dots and shapes into tie dye designs of chromatic awesomeness. After a delicious lunch, we wrap up the day with another Chromatography lab, separating the components of grape Kool-Aid using Sep-Paks and various concentrations of alcohol.

Our day at BRDG Park is over, and based on survey comments from our crew, it was a good one.  One crew member said, “Just keep the hands on,” and another, “We need to have more things like this [in] our schools.”  Manager of Youth and Community Programs, Betsy Crites said of the day, "This group of young people proved today that they were quick learners, creative, and great team players. We are going to have an amazing summer." That says it all.  I can’t wait to see what the Outdoor Youth Corps can achieve this summer! Stay tuned!

 

by Nelson Curran, Supervisor, Missouri Botanical Garden’s Outdoor Youth Corps

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