14 Months as a WERM
During Phase I, interns gain foundational knowledge on the principles of restoration ecology, standard data collection methods and essential tools for scientific analysis. Interns take two classes, Mapping New York City's Urban Environment: An Introduction to Geographic Information Systems and Restoration of New York City’s Natural Areas. These classes are a combination of formal instruction in the classroom or computer lab, and hands-on fieldwork in our woodland to apply key ecological principles to real-world situations. During the rest of the week interns attend field trips, collect crucial data, and meet with guest scientists and restoration practitioners.
Phase II is dedicated to building on the summer—deepening interns’ understanding of the different methodologies used in scientific research and knowledge of the ecology of New York City’s natural areas. Through a series of weekly WERMshops, interns meet local scientists, read scientific journals, explore local natural areas and practice data collection methods using GPS and GIS. Putting their newly acquired techniques to use, WERM interns collect data that contributes to existing research efforts, and help monitor and improve the health of our woodland. In the spring, interns form small teams and select a mentor to begin laying the groundwork for their research projects. Some examples of WERMshops include:
- Tour of research projects and Rutgers University's Hutchinson Memorial Forest
- Kayaking with the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance
- Freshwater-ecology data collection in Van Cortlandt Park
In Phase III, interns spend the majority of their time working on mentor-led, small-group research projects. They work both with their mentors, and independently with their team members. To support students in their research, interns meet weekly to take Introduction to Science Research. In addition, interns participate in an improv class that helps develop communication and public speaking skills. The phase culminates with interns presenting their research at a celebratory graduation symposium in August. The WERM program is also a part of the NYC Science Research and Mentoring Consortium, which provides students further opportunities to present their research to scientists and peers.
Past projects include:
- Being Coyote-Smart: Developing a Rapid Assessment Protocol to Aid Coyote (Canis latrans) Management in NYC
WERM interns used GIS software to create a map as a tool to identify priority areas in the Bronx for coyote management.
- Population and Community Ecology of Crayfish in an Urban Brook: Tibbetts Brook in Van Cortlandt Park
WERM interns setup crayfish traps to determine distribution of native versus non-native species.
- Assessing The Effects of The Bronx River’s Water Quality on Riparian Plant Communities
WERM interns collected data to measure the health of the Bronx River and draw connections with existing vegetation surveys.