Field Report: Women in Science Summit 2016

D.C. Randle, Citizen Science & Education, ACTSPeru

2016 Women in Science Summit, California Academy of Sciences

This year, my friend and mentor, Dr. Meg Lowman asked me to join a panel session at the first annual Women in Science Summit hosted at the California Academy of Sciences.   Although I was very honored to be on the panel, I wasn’t quite sure what I was to speak about other than my time in the Amazon with my students, both male and female.  Meg told me not to worry it would be easy.  Ha! She said the same thing when I presented at the Cal Academy Tree Summit in 2015.   Even though things did not go as planned that day, a quick summation of my finer points in bullet-point fashion saved the day and it turned out that what I perceived as a disaster, was in fact a success.

The topic of the panel session was Allies: speaking to modeling, mentoring, and partnering.  Our panel consisted of: Jo Boaler, Rodolfo Dirzo, Liz Hadly, Tizeew Sisay and me. We were all asked to share our personal stories and the importance of role modeling, mentoring and form allies have shaped our lives.  In addition, we were to discuss ways to create better cultures of inclusivity in the field of science. Women roles in science today are making great contributions to the many different fields and they are making a difference.  But how was I helping women to make this difference?  Was I actually helping them to contribute to science?

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For years I have taken students from St. Francis High School and the surrounding areas down to the Amazon Rainforest. Although the expedition is open to both female and male high school students as well as college students, when you examine my data from years past  it clearly shows that a large percentage of students are young women. About 90%to 98% have been young female students really excited and invested in science and the many different fields of science – not only the natural sciences but the social sciences as well.

This conference was a celebration of how far female scientists have come and it too was a day to inform others that there is still much work to be done.   So how has my personal journey as a minority myself, prepared me for the job of helping to increase women in a field so decorated with males?

I told the story of my social, physical and cultural struggles growing up and how at every level during my young life I was met with adversity. I was one who slipped through the cracks, left to fend for myself. Either make it or become a statistic. Times changed and I did not become a statistic, thanks to the many heroes who came before me and fought for inclusion of everyone from all walks of life no matter what the differences we were going to be a team of one.  That was my personal challenge and deep inside of me, I knew I would be an ally to the under-served in our society. Being a science educator for many years in the field of special Ed, I worked with students that are under-served in our educational system – including students who were incarcerated and from impoverished rural areas.  I used my passion for science to foster programs to help my students achieve their dreams in science, education and life.

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While I never set out to intentionally help young women in science achieve their goals and dreams in science, it turns out that I have.   The young women who have traveled to the Amazon with me through the years are living proof!   This year I will travel back to ACTSPeru with eight female citizen scientists, six from high school and two adults.  I know our time together immersed in the Amazon will feed that science fire inside of them and I intend to be their ally forever as they pursue their passion for science.   No child should slip through the cracks of our society whether they are a child of diversity or not. Someday we will have no need to have conferences to show separate contributions of people of diversity, just conferences that celebrate the accomplishments of humanity.

Do you work with young women who are interested in science?  You can join us in the Amazon!  Register for Meg Lowman’s 2017 Citizen Science Expedition 

More info:

Dr. Meg Lowman

Women Scientists in the Field

2016 Women In Science Recap

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Do field programs in the Amazon have a positive effect on student choices later in life?

D.C. Randle, Citizen Science & Education, ACTSPeru

As an educator with 31 years’ experience, I believe that getting students involved with science programs that offer real life opportunities to learn how to do scientific research from actual field researchers does have a lasting effect and does have a lifelong impact!

According to a study at the University of Minnesota – Duluth, these field experiences can have a positive effect on students and science career choices later on in life.  In the article, Prairie Science Class: A Model for Re-Visioning Environmental Education within the National Wildlife Refuge System, (Human Dimension of Wildlife, 2006) the authors offer evidence which supports these types of programs.  The researchers’ findings are consistent with others who have looked at experiential programs compared to traditional settings.

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Student Field Researchers

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Cedar Creek Ecosystem Reserve, Minnesota

ACTSPeru Canopy Walkway

Field Research, ACTSPeru Canopy Walkway

My background is in ecology and education with high school students in Minnesota.  My experience over the years leads me to support these findings by the researchers.  Getting students involved in field study programs in your local area, such as the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Reserve pictured here,  as well as distance programs, such as my field programs in the Amazon, have a lasting effect on the students and it helps them to make college and career choices that are directly related to those experiences.  I find that there is no substitute for experiential learning.  I have taken many students from across the United States to the Amazon to learn firsthand from scientists who are working in the field of tropical ecology, biology, and culture and world language.  The opportunity to interact firsthand with these researchers and educators to gain firsthand knowledge in the field is a game changer!

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Student Citizen Scientists in the Amazon

What I have found is that these experiences have led many of my students to choose pathways in their college course of study or careers choices which focus on science or another science related field. In addition, these  students actually mentor others, share stories of their experiences, and continue these types of learning experiences throughout their adult lives.

Education is most effective when students are actively engaged in real world science in real world situations and not passively engaged with the process of reading about it.

So, if you are looking for reasons to get your students out of the classroom on field trips to your local research centers or environmental outdoor leaning labs, or even to bring students of all ages to the Amazon to participate in a research expedition, I would love to talk with you!

Leave me a comment below or shoot me an email at drandle55@msn.com

D.C. Randle, Citizen Science & Education, ACTSPeru

Welcome to the ACTSPeru Blog!

Welcome to the ACTSPeru Blog, your source for updates on our research, education, and citizen science projects.  Please feel free to leave comments, questions, and suggestions via the comment box below.  D.C. Randle, our Director of Education and Citizen Science Programs,  is overseeing this blog and will reply just as soon as possible.

Meet D.C.  

HAmazon Randleello!  I’d like to introduce myself; some of you already know me and for others, I may be a new face.  I have been a longtime friend of the Amazon and am pleased to serve as the ACTSPeru Director of Education and Citizen Science.   I have been a science educator for 30 plus years and a field researcher for Dr. Meg Lowman for 22 plus years. Most of most of my time in tropical rain forests has been spent in and around the ACTSPeru field station and canopy walkway.

My degree is in biological sciences and my masters is in education with a focus on ecological sciences. Over the years, I have served on many committees, including: Life Discovery Committee for K-16 science Teachers, Ecological Society of America; Life Discovery Committee for K-16 science Teachers, Jason Project Distance Learning Program; Tree Foundation for Tropical Studies; Scientist on Staff at Selby Botanical Gardens;  St Francis Community Diversity Team; Minnesota Ideals Mentor Teacher for the University of Minnesota, University of MN; Highway to the Tropics for Ospreys Program; the Jason Project Multicultural Committee; and the MN Electronic Environmental Educational Network Advisory Board.

As an educator and Director of Education and Citizen Science Programs, I believe ACTSPeru is a wonderful facility in which scientists, researchers, colleges, universities, school groups and citizen scientists can explore the wonders of the Amazon rainforest.  I look forward to working with groups like this to help further tropical science and research to raise Amazon awareness around the world.

Stay in touch!  Feel free to leave your questions about our Education and Citizen Science programs below or email me at drandle55@msn.com

Note: If you are an independent researcher interested in conducting academic research at ACTSPeru, please contact our Director of Scientific Research, Dr. Stephen Madigosky at smadigosky@hotmail.com