Posts tagged ‘YES!’
This summer I had the privilege of working with two terrific high school students who were part of the Youth Engagement Through Science Program (YES!) sponsored by the National Museum of Natural History. The students spent six weeks at Smithsonian Gardens participating in a citizen science bird watch. Read about their experiences below.
-Cynthia Brown, Horticulture Collections and Education Manager
Elvis Sosa Martinez: My name is Elvis Sosa – Martinez. I plan on graduating from high school next year (2014) and I would like to go to college and major in Business Administration and Criminal Justice.
My experience at the Smithsonian Gardens was great! I never thought I would learn so many things about bird species. My project for the six weeks was about conducting a bird count to see what types, and how many, are stopping by to visit the Smithsonian Gardens Urban Bird Habitat Garden around the National Museum of Natural History. The data that was collected from our bird watching sessions was added to the Cornell Lab Ornithology Celebrate Urban Birds project. Every bird is unique in some type of way. Honestly I would recommend this program to any high school student. It is a great experience and opportunity to communicate and interact with many different people. You get the opportunity to observe and to learn how birds nest, live, what they eat and much more. My mentors Cynthia Brown and Paula Healy were a lot of help. They were always there when I needed help and they were very fun to work with. I really appreciate everything that they have done to make this experience a great experience.
Brianne Turner: My name is Brianne Turner and I am a rising senior. I am originally from Dallas, Georgia and moved to Washington, D.C. in 2007. I was excited about this internship because it was something fun and new for me. I hoped to gain knowledge about new science fields that I didn’t have prior knowledge about. When I graduate high school I would like to study food science and go to law school.
When most people think of bird watching, they think “Boring!” and choose to avoid the activity all together. However it is so much more. Bird watching for the first time was dull to me, but when you see your first bird it unlocks a new curiosity. When you see a bird you start to pay attention to the environment near it and also you look at the details on the bird. You begin to do more research in order to find out what bird species you saw and how you can find it again. You find a new appreciation for the world in which you live in and think of ways to help better it for people and animals, because we are not the only ones that have to pay for our negligence. I had an opportunity be involved with a fairly new project and do research for the new bird interpreters. I get to leave with the knowledge that my work that I have done will be used over and over again and it will be put to great use.
I really appreciate everything that Smithsonian Gardens has done to make this experience a great experience.
This summer Smithsonian Gardens (SG) joined the National Museum of Natural History and the National Zoo in an outreach program designed for high school students. Youth Engagement through Science (YES!) connected students to Smithsonian collections, experts, and training in an effort to provide them with practical experience, inspiration and encouragement to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers. The program also equipped the students with resources to help them in their next step of attending college to pursue their career interests.
Students who participated in YES! worked side by side with SG horticulturists and educators in the Smithsonian Gardens’ Greenhouse, Victory Garden and Heirloom Garden. The mentors, Tom Mirenda, Joe Brunetti and Erin Clark, worked with three students, Damani Eubanks, Kumar Madhav and Dion Anderson, from various high schools in the D.C. metropolitan area. Each mentor designed a project highlighting subjects in their area of expertise. The students worked with the mentors to complete the projects, keep a field journal and produce a poster for a special open-session presentation at National Museum of Natural History.
A special tour of the SG Greenhouse gave SG YES! students, Kumar and Damani, a chance to share their project with all 25 YES! students. Kumar and Damani demonstrated their newly gained knowledge when they explained how they measured and recorded various parts of blooming orchids.
This fall, when the students return to school, they are required to take a leadership role among their peers and promote the YES! program in a community outreach project. The students will be ombudsmen for Smithsonian Gardens!
YES! was a positive experience for both the mentors and the students. Smithsonian Gardens is looking forward to participating in next year’s programs with the new projects for new students.