Mianus River Gorge’s highly acclaimed Research & Education program continues its fruitful history of mentoring, teaching, and engaging students in meaningful applied ecology research. Students at the high school, undergraduate, and graduate levels learn valuable research protocols, gain hands-on field experience, and share their findings at science poster competitions, in published scientific papers, and in their masters and doctoral theses.
Most recently, high school Wildlife Technician Program (WTP) student Matt Gomes placed second in the animal/plant sciences category at the Westchester Science Competition. His project studied the interactive effects of deer, invasive plant species, and native plant recovery in the Preserve.
Additionally, Research Assistantship Program (RAP) alumna Rachel Bricklin and WTP high school student Ellen Thomas are co-authors of Foraging Birds during Migratory Stopovers in the New York Metropolitan Area: Associations with Native and Non-native Plants, in Urban Naturalist, No. 11 (2016). During her time as a RAP graduate student at MRG, Rachel mentored Ellen and studied stopover habitats for migratory birds in urban and nearby suburban sites.
Last summer’s College in Suburban Ecology intern Kyle Sanduski of SUNY Geneseo is just one of many in the program’s 10+-year history to have benefitted from the program. “I would like to thank you all for the excellent and memorable experience I had within my short 8 weeks. My expectations were far exceeded. I have further realized that my aspirations are focused on local level conservation-based NGOs.”
While students work on a project of their choosing, the projects all align with MRG’s ongoing efforts to preserve and protect the watershed. The students are mentored by MRG scientists Rod Christie, Chris Nagy, and Budd Veverka on projects that study white-tailed deer, coyotes, and other wildlife; restore native plant diversity within the Gorge; and contribute to the sustainability, resiliency, and health of the vital wetlands system.
We’re proud of our students, of course, but MRG’s scientists get high praise and recognition, too. Dr. Chris Nagy was tapped to serve as a thesis defense committee member by Dr. Russell Burke, Professor, Chair of Biology, Donald E. Axinn Distinguished Professor in Ecology and Conservation, Hofstra University.
At its 51st annual meeting, Federated Conservationists of Westchester County (FCWC) presented Mianus River Gorge with multiple proclamations and awards in recognition of its Research & Education Program.
A newly recruited class of high school WTP students will be with us until they graduate in 2020. We will welcome four CISE summer interns in early June, and begin work with a new RAP graduate student in March. MRG is always impressed with the quality of the students, and looks forward to training the next generation of scientists, critical thinkers, and conservation-minded citizens.