Fordham University and Wildlife Conservation Society Partnership Featured on CAISE Perspectives Blog

NYC high school students learn about urban ecology from a Fordham University student. Photo credit: Bud Glick

NYC high school students learn about urban ecology from a Fordham University student. Photo credit: Bud Glick

The SENCER-ISE partnership between Fordham University and the Wildlife Conservation Society is featured on the CAISE (Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education) Perspectives blog. The partners discuss their collaboration on Project TRUE: Teens Researching Urban Ecology, which uses a tiered-mentorship model to introduce New York City high school students to urban ecology and increase the rate of students pursuing STEM majors by facilitating collaborations with college mentors already in STEM disciplines.

Continue reading to lean more about the Fordham University and the Wildlife Conservation Society’s partnership and Project TRUE.

This is the third installment of SENCER-ISE’s mini-Spotlight series as CAISE continues to highlight university and museum collaborations. Click to read previous posts about the SENCER-ISE initiative, and the Cornell University and the Sciencenter partnership.


SENCER-ISE Partner, Karen Tingley, Directs “Building Strong Community Networks”

2013-10-30-16-49-03Karen Tingley, Co-PI from the Wildlife Conservation Society, also served as the Building Strong Community Networks (BSCN) Project Director.

BSCN was a two-year action research project, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and The Rockefeller Foundation, which focused on identifying and creatively responding to Brooklyn’s community needs through the collaborative efforts of six Heart of Brooklyn cultural institutions, including the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Public Library, Prospect Park, and the Prospect Park Zoo.

The project resulted in a number of successful community initiatives, as well as a free online workbook.

The “Project True” partnership between the Wildlife Conservation Society and Fordham University provided 25 New York City high school students with ten-week-long research internships to study either arthropod or bird diversity in an urban environment. The students produced a blog and also shared their research projects among themselves, with their school principals, family members, and others.

“Karen’s SENCER-ISE work, along with that of Amy Tuinaga of Fordham, and Karen’s work on the BSCN demonstrate the value of collaborative educational and cultural partnerships in addressing community or civic needs,” says Ellen Mappen, SENCER-ISE Project Director. She adds that “these efforts allow us to develop ‘new models to … generate greater access to information, or share resources,’ as a position paper retrievable on the BSCN website indicates.”

Visit the BSCN website to learn more about the project.

Teens Share Their Research on Project TRUE Blog

Project TRUE is a research internship program for high school students in the New York City area. The students choose between two fields of study, invertebrates or birds, to focus on during the ten-week internship.

Project TRUE teens search for birds in Prospect Park. Photo by Sabryna John-Charles.

A Project TRUE teen searches for birds in Prospect Park. Photo by Sabryna John-Charles.

The first cohort of teens participated in the project from October 2013 to mid-January 2014. A blog was created as part of the civic engagement aspect of Project TRUE. The teen interns generated the content for the blog and decided what should be posted.  Jason Aloisio, Fordham University PhD Candidate and City Zoos Urban Ecologist, and Debbie Dieneman, Coordinator of Volunteers a Prospect Park Zoo, facilitate the internship activities and manage the Project TRUE blog.


Blog posts include photographs of field research expeditions, video presentations, and open letters of thanks to visiting researchers. The Cohort 1 teens created much of the content for the blog using iPads, which were used “as journals, field guides, interview guides, mapping, and much more.” Karen Tingley, Co-PI from the Wildlife Conservation Society, says, “These tools helped them engage in ways that we don’t always see.”

The Project TRUE team is in the process of selecting the teens for the second cohort. These teens will also contribute to the blog using iPads and Go-Pro cameras. Tingley says, “We are really excited for the students to document their process and exploration through the use of photo and video. These videos and images will be uploaded to the blog, YouTube, and Instagram- all great placed for additional teens to learn more about what we are doing.”

To spread word about the work that the teens in Project TRUE are doing, the blog is featured on the WCS Project TRUE website page, found here, and is used in school presentations that each of the interns give at the end of the semester.