The fundamental goal of TREE is to immerse traditionally-underrepresented high school and undergraduate students in an atmosphere of professional ecological research. Foreseeable outcomes of this immersion program are enhanced student interest in ecological careers, and improved appreciation and understanding of the importance of ecological research. An additional broad goal of TREE is to educate student participants in the importance of conservation, and to give them the tools and confidence to share this knowledge with their peers, families and educators.
The specific objectives of TREE are to guide students in performing ecological research, introduce students to key ecological concepts through reading and discussion, provide students an opportunity to deliver their new-found knowledge to the public, and expose the students to techniques and practices in mentoring. Descriptions of these specific objectives are outlined below.
- Research Ð Students contribute to the primary research of Turtle Camp, which concerns the nesting ecology of painted turtles. Additionally, three teams each generally consisting of two high school students, one undergraduate student, and one graduate student perform planned ecological research projects (summarized under the Research link). The results of these projects are presented as posters at ISU and may also be presented at local and national symposia.
- Education Ð Student participants read and discuss key ecological texts from the scientific literature as well as the popular press. The texts are selected, and discussions led, by graduate student researchers and/or Professor Janzen and will focus on important issues in ecology.
- Outreach Ð Numerous opportunities exist for casual communication with members of the public at Turtle Camp. Students explain their research to the public via these impromptu interactions and through planned presentations, such as a childrenÕs story time at the Thomson Public Library (Thomson, IL). Additionally, students have the opportunity to assist in creating informational pamphlets and placards targeted toward the public.
- Mentoring Ð High school and undergraduate students participate in multilevel and reciprocal mentoring with each other, Professor Janzen, and graduate student researchers.