KBS science education and outreach fellowships are generously funded by the Michigan State University Graduate School.
Part of the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station’s mission is to provide outreach programs that bring KBS expertise to bear on environmental issues of public importance. The KBS community places a strong emphasis on connecting the public with current research, principles of conservation and resources for science-based learning. And, it is truly a community effort.
Each year, graduate students with an interest in communicating science and sharing their research have opportunities to hone those skills by serving as outreach fellows, organizing events, developing activities and speaking to groups of all ages about their research.
Our graduate students are instrumental in furthering our research, education and outreach endeavors. Meet our 2019 outreach fellows: Ava, Sean, Kyle, Lindsey and Meredith.
Project: KBS K-12 Partnership Summer Institute
Ava is a Ph.D. candidate in the Conner Lab at KBS and studies the evolution of agricultural weeds. Using weedy radish (Raphanus raphanistrum), one of the world’s worst crop weeds, as her model system, she’s exploring the traits important for initial adaptation to agricultural fields and the underlying genetic mechanisms.
“This summer I helped to organize the KBS K-12 Partnership Summer Institute, which is a fantastic showcase of biodiversity in Michigan! We had a great lineup of session speakers, who ranged from undergraduates to professionals in their field, with a wide array of session topics. The third day of the partnership was our field day! Our two activities, the vernal pool monitoring workshop and the BioBlitz species inventory event, were so much fun and I was so excited to participate!”
Project: W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary outreach
Sean is a Ph.D. candidate in the Haddad Lab at KBS and studies how habitat restoration affects wild bees across fragmented agricultural landscapes. The goal of his research is to develop better conservation practices for rare or declining pollinators that have been threatened by habitat loss.
“Last summer as one of the KBS Bird Sanctuary fellows, I worked with volunteers and developed a walking tour of the Pollinator Garden that highlighted the importance of native plants for pollinator conservation. This year, I’m excited to continue my collaboration with the Bird Sanctuary by running their annual Pollinator Workshop, creating a new webpage for the Pollinator Garden, interacting with volunteers, and running tours and field trips.”
Project: Environmental DNA–eDNA–and rare species sampling
Kyle is a Ph.D. student in the Fitzpatrick Lab at KBS and studies ecological and evolutionary dynamics of amphibian diseases. The goal of his work is to inform amphibian conservation by understanding how populations adapt to novel stressors, like diseases, and avoid extinction.
“Environmental DNA sampling techniques offer a non-invasive method to test for the presence of species that are difficult to find. This summer, I’m conducting eDNA sampling surveys at several KBS properties to test for rare (endangered/threatened) and invasive species, with the help of KBS undergraduates. The aim of this project is to potentially identify the presence of species of conservation concern at KBS and create an activity with our dataset for K-12 educators to apply in their classrooms.”
Project: Sharing science and increasing visibility of KBS at local farmers markets
Lindsey is a Ph.D. student in the Haddad Lab at KBS and studies biodiversity conservation and sustainable agriculture.
“Farmers markets are important community spaces for supporting sustainable agriculture in southwest Michigan. I will have a community booth at the Kalamazoo and Richland farmers markets to share the science that happens at KBS, as well as to increase the visibility of KBS and the community programs it has to offer. I’m looking forward to engaging patrons, sharing our science with the public, and teaching folks about opportunities at the Bird Sanctuary, the Farm and Dairy, and the Conference Center.”
Project: KBS K-12 Partnership Summer Institute
Meredith is a Ph.D. candidate in the Lau Lab at KBS and studies how environmental changes influence local prairie plant extinctions, with the aim of improving predictions of extinction risk for threatened species.
“I’m really excited to be running my fourth KBS K-12 Partnership Institute this summer! This program is a fantastic opportunity to bring science into K-12 classrooms, get feedback on teaching, and share a passion for ecology, evolution and conservation. Or, best of all, get asked “how to get paid to look for pond bugs” (quote from a 5th-grader). Thanks to the resources and connections that the K-12 program provides, we’re able to teach like we do science – always observing, asking questions, experimenting, and sharing a love of the natural world.”