Youth are a powerful component of the restoration effort of the Rio Grande riparian corridor in Albuquerque, New Mexico. For over 20 years, students in Albuquerque have gathered scientific data with the Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program, or BEMP.
Underrepresented Citizen Scientists
BEMP engages students as young as five years old in fieldwork and data gathering along the river, allowing them to serve as active “citizen scientists” for the community. Key BEMP data sets include groundwater, plant composition and distribution, weather and other indicators of biological diversity. Students also research overall riparian forest health and the impact of the ecological drivers of flood, fire, climate and human alteration. BEMP concentrates on engaging students from dozens of schools with repeated, multiple-contact field experiences, immersing students in hands-on field science. Almost 70% of the monthly monitoring students that BEMP works with are Hispanic, Native American or African American, all groups underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.
BEMP scientific protocols are developed to be consistent with agency guidelines, and multi-million dollar riparian management decisions are based on the student’s findings. Data is requested and used by state, local, tribal and federal resource managers – including the US Army Corps of Engineers, Interstate Stream Commission, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. For example, the US Army Corps of Engineers utilizes the data for stream restoration projects all along the Rio Grande. Ondrea Hummel, an ecologist with the US Army Corps of Engineers stated, “We use BEMP data in evaluating our Middle Rio Grande Restoration Projects. BEMP’s vegetation and arthropod data helps give us a sense of the ecological health of a site before we begin a restoration project and during the restoration process.”
In the heart of Albuquerque, BEMP is making a real difference in the life of students and the health of the Rio Grande.
- Bosque School
- University of New Mexico Department of Biology
- INTEL Sustainability in Action
- The Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority (AMAFCA)
- Youth can provide key roles in data gathering to inform their community’s restoration projects.