Story Submitted by Suwannee River Water Management District
For the second year in a row the Suwannee River Water Management District hosted the Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) students and teachers from Trenton and Madison High Schools for eight days of first hand experiences of the typical work of engineers, scientists and administrators. The Florida Learns STEM Scholars, the North East Florida Educational Consortium (NEFEC) STEM Talent Development 2014 Summer Field Site and Workplace Experience Opportunity partnered with the District and instructors Paige Thomas (Madison County High School) and Ryan Pass (Trenton High School) to bring this program to seven deserving students. The students were from Trenton High School were Logan Fitzgerald, Tela Powers, Alex Simons and Daniel Crane; from Madison County High School were Tyler Burnett, Jacob Moore, Easton Sapp and Leslie Sapp.
Students were asked what they hope to gain from this experience and they expressed a desire to learn about the various occupation types at the District as well as job functions. The students went on to say they had heard of the District, but they were not clear on the relationship between the District, public lands and springs.
Dave Dickens, Administrative and Operations Bureau Chief and Coordinator at the District for the STEM experience commented, “Providing students with this intimate hands-on opportunity is not only informative towards their prospective career paths, it also increases their levels of environmental awareness.” Dickens coordinated with other staff to expose the youth to a range of professions. Over eight days, they were taught the history of the Water Management Districts and met with the Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle and members of leadership. With Water Resources Division Engineers, they worked on permits and put their new Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Mapping and Geonavigational skills to use by spending multiple days getting real hands-on experience in the field with district personnel. These shadowing activities included: inspecting storm water structures and wetland restorations, observing timber harvesting and forestry management, using scientific instrumentation to measure water quality parameters, monitoring the flow of water in streams and rivers, inspecting agriculture best management practices on local farms, monitoring groundwater wells and participation in many other responsibilities of the District.
Students expressed appreciation for staff tailoring the experience to make it relevant and applicable. Visiting Belli Farms greenhouse and riding a Global os sys GPS satellite controlled tractor are some of the highlights they cited. The tour took them to a variety of places such as Poe Springs, Adams Tract River Camp and Suwannee Valley Agricultural Extension Center just to name a few. The Edible Aquifer Demonstration was a hit with all involved. Instructor Ryan Pass expressed his gratitude for the event and eagerly hopes to continue with the next STEM and District work experience.
The NEFEC explained the investment in STEM and students, “Recognizing the need for small and rural districts to enhance science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) curricula for gifted and talented secondary students, the Panhandle Area Educational Consortium (PAEC), in partnership with the Heartland Educational Consortium (HEC), and NEFEC will implement the FloridaLearns STEM Scholars (FLSS) program.”
For more information visit Panhandle Area Educational Consortium in partnership with Heartland Educational Consortium and North East Florida Educational Consortium at www.floridalearnsstemscholars.org or http://www.nefec.org”www.nefec.org.