Kristen MacFarlane, Wave Hill’s Youth Programs Coordinator, works with high school students in the Forest Project and Woodland Ecology Research Mentorship (WERM), Wave Hill’s two paid internship programs for high school students.
On August 23, 2016, ten high school students graduated from the Woodland Ecology Research Mentorship (WERM), a 14-month program for high school students to conduct field research with working scientists. This is the third group to complete the 14-month program. The evening was filled with laughter and celebration and students eager to share the research they conducted throughout the summer.
Here are our proud graduates, clockwise form the top left: Isaiah Jeremie, Jarette Mungin, Harrison Min, Jacques Pelman, Orion Batista, Amanda Martinez, Talia English, Gauri Patel and Eriq Mitchell. Missing: Luz Jimenez.
During the academic year, these students accomplished a lot: they explored different natural areas throughout New York City and the surrounding areas, met scientists in various environmental fields, built upon their data analysis and GIS knowledge from the previous summer in the program and more! Some highlights include kayaking with the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance, hiking in Mianus River Gorge (the first shot here), canoeing along the Bronx River (the second shot), searching (fruitlessly) for salamanders in Wave Hill’s Herbert & Hyonja Abrons woodland and Riverdale Park and planting native trees in Pelham Bay Park (the last shot here). All of these adventures and experiences were preparing them for the challenges they would face in their second summer here at Wave Hill.
Below are the four projects that were completed by this summer’s WERM cohort.
Green Infrastructure and Street Tree Health in the Bronx and Queens
Led by second-time mentor Novem Auyeung from NYC Parks, Isaiah Jeremie, Harrison Min and Gauri Patel continued researching green infrastructure and street tree health in the Bronx and Queens. They used tree health indicators, such as leaf discoloration, defoliation, and crown vigor, to examine which tree species and types of green infrastructure were the most successful. Combining statistics and GIS, these three students, along with their mentor, came to some interesting conclusions! Check out their final poster here. Pictured here, from left to right, are Gauri Patel, Harrison Min and Isaiah Jeremie.
Helping to Inventory New York City’s Largest Old-Growth Forest
Orion Batista and Eriq Mitchell worked with Jessica A. Schuler, the Director of the Thain Family Forest at the New York Botanical Garden, assisting with the forest inventory that is conducted every five years. The goal of their particular project was to look at the effects of extreme weather, including Hurricane Irene and Hurricane Sandy, on the city’s largest old-growth forest. This assessment could help guide future management practices, as well as provide information for further research. You can look at their final poster here. In this next shot, Orion Batista (far left) and Eriq Mitchell (second from right) take a break with the forest inventory crew at the New York Botanical Garden.
Tibbetts Brook Daylighting Project: Site-Suitability Analysis
Wanting to utilize their GIS skills, Talia English, Luz Jimenez, and Jacques Pelman developed a project surrounding the Tibbetts Brook daylighting project. Tibbetts Brook originates in Westchester County and historically flowed into the Harlem River. Today, however, the brook enters the sewer system in Van Cortlandt Park, contaminating the freshwater stream and polluting the Harlem River. Mentored by Dara Mendeloff of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, the goal of their project was to perform a site suitability analysis in GIS to identify where Tibbetts Brook could flow in the urbanized city to reach the Harlem River. Read more about their work here. Here, Luz Jimenez, Jacques Pelman and Talia English smile as they solve a complicated GIS issue.
Surveying Urban Wildlife with the Gotham Coyote Project
Finally, along with Ferdie Yau of the Gotham Coyote Project, Amanda Martinez and Jarette Mungin examined the motion-activated camera footage to determine habitat use and activity patterns for urban wildlife, including coyotes, deer and raccoons. Both students, who share a love for animals, spent many hours identifying these mammals and recording when and where they are active. The result was a map they produced showing the boundaries where each species roamed in the Bronx and Manhattan, along with the times when they would most likely be seen. The larger goal of the project is to not only learn more about urban wildlife, but also to guide management practices, with fewer negative human-wildlife interactions. Check out their final poster here. Here, Amanda Martinez and Jarette Mungin check one of the wildlife cameras in the field.
We could not be prouder of their accomplishments. Each student went above and beyond what was expected of him or her. They gained confidence in their ability to speak publicly, handled complex statistical analyses, applied and expanded their GIS skills and taught us a lot about ecology in New York City.
Last Saturday was our first workshop with the next cohort of 11 talented WERM interns. The group dynamic is already different from our recent graduates, but the same enthusiasm and passion for learning is clear. We’re looking forward to working with these students throughout the coming academic year!