Summer of 2021, a busy transition from virtual to in-person outdoors here at Jasper Ridge!
As the 2021 summer comes to an end, we look back with excitement on how we have slowly and safely welcomed back many education and outreach experiences here at Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve. During the pandemic shutdown we continued operations by hosting more than 15 evening lectures and community events, six continuing education sessions, and participating in more than 30 virtual outreach events. Now we are excited to resume hosting in-person educational and outreach activities at Jasper Ridge, which commenced on a limited basis last spring and has been slowly accelerating through the summer.
Following appropriate health and safety protocols, Professor Rodolfo Dirzo, TA Vito Mendez and I, were able to construct an intense 10-week version of the BIO EARTHSYS 105 course that allowed for the students to receive essential scientific training while building a sense of community while learning outdoors. This year the students completed and submitted research proposals that could complement Jasper Ridge research and education programs. And yes, the students still had to dress up to showcase the main physical features of their favorite order of invertebrates while presenting their ecology and life history! Please welcome our ten new docents to our Jasper Ridge community! Watch the video below to relive some of our favorite moments and to meet the new docents (new docents start in min 6:00 of video below)!
Large outreach events hosted by Jasper Ridge staff, faculty, students, and docents continue to be virtual while other smaller events are now including an in-person and outdoor component. Some of our online-only outreach events were in collaboration with Canopy, Grassroots Ecology, Ecological Society of America, Environmental Justice Working Group, Menlo-Atherton Ecology Research Outdoors (MERO), Organization of Biological Field Stations (OBFS), Redwood High School REAL Academy Program with the Stanford SEEDS Chapter, Stanford Conservation Program, Stanford West Center, Stanford Woods Institute, among others.
Our smaller, in-person and outdoor educational and outreach activities included events with local and national organizations. In collaboration with SFBBO, we organized an educational field trip for our SOAR RCN partners from five different institutions to tour two bird-banding sites at Coyote Creek and Jasper Ridge. One of the Latino Outdoors events at Jasper Ridge during #LatinoConservationWeek allowed us (me, Bryan Rodriguez, Jennifer Adams and Esmeralda Cabrera) to record material for our invited talk to the 2021 ESA annual meeting titled “Connecting with the outdoors by learning and using iNaturalist while protecting vulnerable communities”. In collaboration with Integrated Digitized Biocollections we organized a virtual SACNAS National BioBlitz that resulted in 252 observations of more than 160 species by six chapters across the USA. With support from Stanford Earth DEI Office, we hosted many Stanford SACNAS Chapter students and postdocs of which many visited Jasper Ridge and experienced a BioBlitz for the first time! Also in collaboration with Stanford Earth, we hosted two of their summer research programs, SESUR and SURGE. The SURGE graduate students participated in a virtual soil-plant-animal activity while the undergraduate SESUR students hiked around Jasper Ridge to learn about the local natural history of the preserve. We also worked with Stanford Earth to build a virtual tour of Jasper Ridge for the Board of Trustees to highlight the efficacy of virtual field trips. Continuing our tradition of being a learning space for K-12 teachers, we hosted several teachers of the Stanford Research Experience for Teachers Program of the Office of STEM Outreach. The event was led by Rodolfo Dirzo and the focus of the hike was to practice hypothesis-building skills and discover new ways of experimental design outdoors.
Figure 1. Clockwise, Stanford SACNAS Chapter president, Ellen Bouchard, participating in the national SACNAS BioBlitz; tour of bird-banding stations with our SOAR RCN partners; Bay Area teachers learning about galls with Rodolfo Dirzo; and members of Latino Outdoors visiting Jasper Ridge.
Our students/docents continued to be recognized with awards for their participation in scientific conferences, workshops, environmental education activities and for their contributions to the campus community. We announced Sydney Schmitter and Sriram Narasimhan as the recipients of the inaugural Jasper Ridge Environmental Education Scholar Award. Liza Hafner, docent class of 2021, was recognized by the Stanford Alumni Association as with the Outstanding Achievement Award for the contributions to the campus community. Julien Ueda and Sydney Lee Schmitter were both awarded the SEEDS Undergraduate Student Participation Awards to attend the 2021 ESA Annual Meeting. Additionally, Julien Ueda’s research abstract was accepted for presentation and virtually presented his research titled: “Long-term bird population trends at a San Francisco Bay Area preserve”. I was also invited to present in the Session: “Success Stories from the ESA SEEDS Program... 25 Years Later” where I shared my career pathway as a SEEDS student back in 2004 and how I am now one of the luckiest ecologists in the world working here at Jasper Ridge. Last but not least, four of our docents were recipients of several SFBBO scholarships to attend their bird workshops; you can read the stories from Judith, Julien, Maya and Niza.
Figure 2. On the left, Sydney Schmitter and Sriram Narasimhan, recipients of the Jasper Ridge Environmental Education Scholar Award and below, an example of their educational material shared with the REAL program. On the right, Julien Ueda above his research poster presented during the 2021 ESA annual meeting (click here to see full poster).
As we continue to work with more students and educational partners, we developed an extensive resource page for students and early career scientists. This webpage (continuously updated) includes more than 100 links to graduate programs, funding, organizations and professional societies, job boards, a list of natural history book recommendations and many more!
Clearly, we had a very busy welcome back to Jasper Ridge spring and summer seasons! Much of this work was started thanks to the work of Cindy Wilber. Many of her collaborators continue to work with us and we are also starting and fostering new relationships, pursuing more educational grants and building more initiatives! And we recently received news that Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve has been awarded the 2021 OBFS Human Diversity Award. To read more about OBFS, the award and our participation during this week's OBFS annual meeting please read our upcoming post.
If you happen to be visiting Jasper Ridge this fall quarter, feel free to stop by my office and say hi!
Stay curious and see you at the ridge, Jorge.