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WVHS science teacher joins research team with Earthwatch Institute

on July 25, 2016
HS science teacher collects greenhouse gases

Collecting greenhouse gases in the Sierra Nevadas.

This summer, science teacher Lisa Reece joined an Earthwatch research team for a seven day expedition in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California to help scientists understand how climate change is impacting the health of meadows. Mrs. Reece was a part of Earthwatch’s Teach Earth USA Fellowship Program.

From July 10 – July 16 , Mrs. Reece joined seven other Earthwatch volunteers from the U.S. for the “Restoring Sierra Meadows: The Source of California’s water” project. The research team was led by Rachel Hutchinson of the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL). The team’s base camp was at the Sagehen Creek Research Station, maintained by the University of California, Berkeley.

“I came home from my Earthwatch expedition feeling a whole new sense of connection to the natural world, a fresh understanding of climate change and the need to act now, and a renewed enthusiasm for the way I think and learn about science” said Reece.

Meadows across the Sierra Nevada contain very distinct and diverse plant and animal communities that are threatened by human impacts from recreation, grazing and larger scale issues like climate change.

Meadows are also important for water storage and habitat connectivity, providing California with two-thirds of the water needed to sustain its ever-growing population and agricultural endeavors. Promoting the restoration of mountain meadows is critical for supplying the state with enough water to grow and a habitat for the plant and animal species that are cherished.

Each day Earthwatch fellows worked in small groups to survey stream channels, measure groundwater levels, vegetation density, soil carbon, or assist with greenhouse gas measurement within the meadow.

“I never imagined that I would have the opportunity to take part in real climate science data collection said Reece. “I was thrilled to learn how to perform the different types of field tests while in the meadow, such as measuring soil moisture, collecting soil samples, and sampling greenhouse gases. I can’t wait to integrate it all into my classroom.”

Earthwatch is an international environmental nonprofit whose mission is to engage people worldwide in scientific field research and education to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment.

two scientists collect greenhouse gases  group of scientists at field site  measuring soil moisture  group photo of researchers

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