Importance of Natural Resources

Episode 1123 | Our Land: Students & Scientists Benefit From The Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program


>>THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF
TALK ABOUT EDUCATORS AND POLICYMAKERS IN RECENT YEARS
ABOUT HOW TO ENCOURAGE MORE YOUNG PEOPLE IN NEW MEXICO TO
CONSIDER A CAREER IN THE FIELDS OF SCIENCE AND
TECHNOLOGY. ONE WAY TO GET KIDS AND TEENS
EXCITED ABOUT SCIENCE MIGHT BE TO TAKE THEM OUT INTO NATURE
AND PUT THEM TO WORK. THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT THE
BOSQUE ECOSYSTEM MONITORING PROGRAM DOES. LAURA PASKUS VISITS ONE SITE
WHERE STUDENTS REGULARLY COLLECT DATA ON ANIMALS,
PLANTS AND WATER FOR LOCAL SCIENTISTS. IT IS OUR LATEST INSTALLMENT
IN THE ONGOING SERIES, OUR LAND. NEW MEXICO’S ENVIRONMENTAL
PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE.>>BELOW THE BRIDGE NEAR THE
NATIONAL HISPANIC CULTURAL CENTER IN ALBUQUERQUE ON A
CHILLY NOVEMBER MORNING, STUDENTS ARE GATHERING DATA.>>THE BOSQUE MONITORING
PROGRAM KNOWN AS BEMP HAS BEEN AROUND FOR MORE THAN 20 YEARS. STUDENTS MONITOR WATER AND
GATHER INSECTS AND LEAVES AT DESIGNATED SITES. DATA IS SHARED WITH SCIENTISTS
AT UNIVERSITY OF NEW MEXICO AND ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGERS OF
STATE, TRIBAL AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.>>I HAVE ALWAYS LIKED
SCIENCE. FIRST TIME I CAME WAS ACTUALLY
BECAUSE I WAS ASSIGNED TO THE TEACHER THAT WAS IN CHARGE OF
THE PROGRAM SO I JUST WENT BECAUSE I KIND OF HAVE TO,
BUT, THEN, LIKE THE MORE I WENT, THE MORE I ACTUALLY LIKE
STARTED COLLECTING DATA FOR THE SCIENTISTS, SO IT WAS
PRETTY COOLING.>>I LEARN HOW TO USE A
BEEPER. I MEASURE FOR HIM AND SO, I
CAN DO THAT, AND YOU JUST DROP IT IN AND WHEN IT TOUCHES
WATER, IT BEEPS.>>WE WRITE DOWN THE
MEASUREMENTS THAT WE GOT, SO, SINCE THIS IS THE NORTH, YOU
HAVE TO WRITE 211 CENTIMETERS.>>DARREN SHAW IS ONE OF
CO-FOUNDERS OF THE PROGRAM AND LEADS IT TODAY.>>STUDENTS DO REAL SCIENCE
HERE. THIS IS NOT JUST ANSWERING
SOME QUESTION AT THE END OF A TEXTBOOK. IT’S DISCOVERING NEW
INFORMATION ABOUT THIS LIVING, CHANGING ECOSYSTEM. AND, SO, THIS ECOSYSTEM IS
GOING THROUGH TREMENDOUS CHANGES BROUGHT ABOUT BY THE
ECOLOGICAL DRIVERS OF FLOOD AND FIRE AND CLIMATE AND HUMAN
ALTERATION AND SO IN THAT SETTING, THESE KIDS TRACK THAT
CHANGE. WE DON’T KNOW WHAT THE CHANGES
WILL BE EACH YEAR BUT THE KIDS ARE DISCOVERING THOSE. SO, A POINT ON A GRAPH THAT IS
GENERATED FROM THE DATA THEY COLLECT IS NOT JUST A RANDOM
POINT. THEY HAVE A VISCERAL
CONNECTION OF HAVING GONE OUT AND TESTED THE WATER LEVEL.>>THERE IS NO WATER IN HERE. I GUESS WE’LL HAVE TO CHECK IT
NEXT MONTH.>>BEMP HAS GROWN FROM FOUR
SIGHTS IN THE 1996 SCHOOL YEAR TO MORE THAN 30 SITES TODAY. FROM NORTHERN NEW MEXICO TO
LAS CRUCES AND SHAW SAYS ALTHOUGH THE PROGRAM IS BASED
AT BOSQUE SCHOOL, A PRIVATE SCHOOL IN ALBUQUERQUE, IT
MOSTLY SERVES STUDENTS AND COMMUNITIES ALONG THE RIO
GRANDE.>>LESS THAN 1% OF OUR
PARTICIPANTS ARE BOSQUE SCHOOL OR PRIVATE SCHOOL STUDENTS. MOST EVERYBODY ARE AT SCHOOLS
UP AND DOWN THE RIVER, PUBLIC SCHOOLS, CHARTER SCHOOLS AND
EVEN HOME SCHOOLS INVOLVED. ALL THOSE KIDS WITH DIFFERENT
BACKGROUNDS OF ALL KINDS, WE TRY TO GET SCIENCE TO KIDS
THAT WOULDN’T NECESSARILY HAVE LOTS OF ACCESS TO IT.>>RIGHT IN FRONT OF US, THERE
IS A TRAP WHICH WE USE TO CATCH LIKE LITTLE INSECTS THAT
ARE IN THIS AREA. WE DO THIS THREE TIMES A YEAR,
SPRING, SUMMER AND FALL.>>THE PROGRAM FOLLOWS
NATIONAL SCIENCE STANDARDS AND REQUIRES THAT STUDENTS FOLLOW
SCIENTIFIC METHODOLOGY. SO THE DATA CAN BE USED IN
PEER REVIEW PAPERS OR EVEN COURT FILINGS ON WATER
CONTAMINATION.>>SHAW SAYS THE WORK THEY DO
IN THE BOSQUE ALSO HELPS THEM CONNECT WITH BROADER
ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES.>>WE HAVE THE STUDENTS
DEALING WITH THESE TOPICS THAT ARE SO COMPELLING FOR US AS
HUMAN POPULATION AND HOW DO WE MANAGE THE RESOURCES THAT WE
DEPEND UPON FOR OUR OWN SURVIVAL. BUT ALSO WE HAVE A SHARED
DEPENDENCY FOR THE WELL-BEING OF THE PLANTS AND ANIMALS AND
REST OF THE ECOSYSTEM.>>MANY STUDENTS WHO
PARTICIPATED IN BEMP HAVE GONE ON TO EARN SCIENCE DEGREES AT
UNM OR OTHER COLLEGES. SOME HAVE EVEN RETURNED TO
WORK WITH THE CURRENT GENERATION OF STUDENTS WHO ARE
THINKING ABOUT WHAT THEY MIGHT DO NEXT, STUDENTS LIKE LYNETTE
WHO IS INTERESTED IN A CAREER IN MEDICINE.>>IT DID CHANGE MY
PERSPECTIVE ON SCIENCE AND HOW I VIEW IT BECAUSE I ALWAYS
THOUGHT IT WAS LIKE ALWAYS JUST LIKE NUMBERS AND FORMULAS
AND STUFF LIKE THAT, BUT NOW WHEN I CAME HERE IT GAVE ME
LIKE A WHOLE OTHER VIEW OF ACTUALLY HOW SCIENCE WORKS,
BECAUSE, YOU’RE NOT JUST LIKE LOOKING DATA UP ON THE
INTERNET, YOU ARE GOING OUT AND COLLECTING IT YOURSELF.>>ALTHOUGH THE CONVERSATION
ABOUT SCIENCE EDUCATION IS SOMETIMES CONTENTIOUS, BOTH IN
SANTA FE AND WASHINGTON D.C., SHAW SAYS THAT MANY
POLICYMAKERS HAVE RESPONDED POSITIVELY TO THE WORK BEING
DONE BY STUDENTS THROUGH THE BOSQUE ECOSYSTEM MONITORING
PROGRAM.>>WE ARE BEING PAID TO DO
SCIENCE BY AGENCIES WHO THEN USE THE STUDENT FINDINGS, SO
THAT SEEMS LIKE A GOOD USE OF PUBLIC MONEY. WHY NOT GET THE SCHOOL KIDS TO
HELP GATHER THAT INFORMATION AND THEN PROVIDE IT TO THE
FOLKS WHO HAVE TO USE IT AND SO, YEAH, WE GET TO FEED TWO
BIRDS WITH ONE FEEDER.>>THERE IS ANOTHER BENEFIT TO
BRINGING STUDENTS OUTSIDE TO LEARN. THEY DEVELOP RELATIONSHIPS
WITH THEIR OWN WATERSHEDS AND LANDSCAPES AND KNOW WHAT IS AT
STAKE WHEN IT COMES TO PROTECTING THEM.>>FOR NEW MEXICO INFOCUS AND
OUR LAND, I AM LAURA PASKUS.


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