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April 2011 Archives

On April 15 and 16, a team of University of Minnesota Extension staff from Environmental Science Education and Youth Development trained a group of 11 volunteer adult leaders for involvement in our NSF-funded Driven to Discover: Enabling Youth Inquiry through Citizen Science project. In two jam-packed days, this cohort of teachers, naturalists and youth leaders took part in hands-on activities and discussions focused on collecting citizen science data and helping youth conduct scientific investigations. During the coming summer, these leaders will work with youth groups to collect citizen science data, record and question their observations about nature, and conduct their own scientific investigations. In the fall, youth will have the opportunity to share their investigations at an Annual Research Summit.

Visit http://www.extension.umn.edu/citizenscience/about.html to learn more about this program.

Citizen Science and Monarchs on the Move

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Monarch View.pngHundreds of 'citizen scientists' contributed recently to valuable research about monarch butterflies. Some monarch butterflies have become permanent residents of Florida, where it is typically warm enough to survive the winter. While this seems like an easier lifestyle, it appears that these butterfiles may be healthier if they flew the long distances into central Mexico for the winter like their northern cousins. In a new study, University of Minnesota researcher, Karen Oberhauser, and three colleagues analyzed data about monarch butterflies, collected by citizen scientists across the country. Results showed that long migrations tend to rid butterfly populations of parasites. For more information, read Keeping monarchs on the move.

Welcome

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We welcome you to a new a new blog, aimed at more quickly and efficiently sharing updates from the University of Minnesota Extension Environmental Science Education team. We will be using this forum to let you know about our upcoming events, publications, resources, and share new research and ideas. Likewise, We encourage you to comment on these posts, share your own ideas, reactions and additional resources. We would LOVE to hear from you about how to improve and add to this blog.

University of Minnesota Environmental Science Education [ESE[ programs employ the unique resources of the University of Minnesota to protect and enhance Minnesota's unique natural resources and environment through improved education. ESE programs involve youth, adults and professionals who can become interconnected members of natural resource communities, improving their abilities to:

1. Explore and understand their natural resources;
2. Plan and engage in conservation stewardship projects; and
3. Effectively teach others in communities about natural resources and conservation.

We offer a variety of targeted programs. For example, the Minnesota Master Naturalist program works with environmental education professionals across Minnesota to support a corps of well-informed citizens, who are dedicated to conservation education and service. The Schoolyard Ecology Explorations program provides summer workshops, curriculum and schoolyard garden grants that help teachers gain the skills and the tools to lead their students to investigate the natural world. With support from the National Science Foundation, the Driven to Discover: Enabling Youth Inquiry through Citizen Science project trains 4-H and other volunteer youth group leaders in the background knowledge and methods needed to lead youth in conducting citizen science projects and then to develop their own ecology research projects. The White Earth Reservation Academy helps American Indian students improve math and science performance, reduce dropout rates, and prepare for careers--while honoring traditional practices and values.

Stay tuned for more updates coming soon. And we look forward to hearing from you.