When studying a topic wherein humans play a strong role in shaping ecosystem processes, such as fire ecology or global change, taking a broad view requires maintaining a strong connection to all kinds of people through teaching, outreach, and communication. For me, education, communication, and outreach play an important role in my work, as research topics and as supplementary activities. I am involved with the following projects and organizations.
Kids Into Discovering Science (KiDS) is a K-12 science education program focused on promoting academic achievement in under-served schools in Lake County, CA. Our mission is to 1) promote academic achievement in a low-income and under-served school district by giving students firsthand field and lab experience with science; 2) help students understand that science is a process of discovery and questioning, not simple memorization of facts; and 3) help students realize a sense of place in Lake County, specifically that the serpentine ecosystems found within and around Lake County makes their home landscape unique. Recently, we have begun working on analyzing data from our program assessment and on submitting our curriculum so that it may serve as a resource for educators elsewhere. You can check out a great article about KiDS here and a new video about the program here.
California Phenology Project at Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve is a new Davis-based citizen science project that is a a part of the broader California Phenology Project, launched in 2014. Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve, part of the UC Reserve system, is the latest CPP site, located near Lake Berryessa and close to Winters, CA. By establishing Stebbins as a CPP site, we hope to simultaneously engage the public in research while producing valuable data that can be used to answer questions about climate change in Northern California and the state as a whole. After a little over a year of data collection, much of Stebbins Reserve burned in the July 2015 Wragg Fire. Our monitoring program will likely change in the aftermath of this disturbance, and I am excited to work with volunteers to study a local, accessible burn site over the next year. Check out our website and blog here.
Bio Boot Camp: Bio Boot Camp is an awesome set of summer camps for middle and high school students run by the UC Davis Wildlife and Entomology museums as well as Campus Recreation. Younger campers spend a week on campus (day-camp, with one overnight) exploring entomology, ecology, wildlife science, and other exciting fields through projects and field trips with UC Davis researchers. High schoolers spend a week away (sleep-away) at a UC reserve and design and carry out their own field ecology research projects, while also having the chance to take field trips and interact with researchers. Check out the BBC 2.0 blog from 2014 and 2015 to hear about our adventures at Sagehen Creek Field Station!
Davis Science Collective (recently re-named and re-envisioned from what was The Big Read) is a partnership with local public library to encourage scientific literacy. In the past, we had occasional “book club” type events where we met with the public to discuss popular science books. Now as the DSC, we have broadened our scope and aim to have a monthly event. Our most successful event yet, The Science of Harry Potter was held in March 2015 at the library. The event featured live owls from the California Raptor Center, carnivorous plants, transfiguration of “knuts” (pennies) into “galleons” (“gold” pennies), and a costume contest. We estimated attendance at over 300 kids and their parents!
Awesome things from the past:
After I graduated from college, I spent several months working for Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, a really fabulous organization that takes kids out on a tall ship on the Hudson River to teach them about the history and ecology of their local watershed. Working for Clearwater taught me a lot about teaching kids science, how ecology and environmental history fit together, and the power of an outdoor setting and hands-on activities can have for getting kids of all stripes excited and focused on the world around them. Check out their website here.