Desert Naturalist

Desert Naturalist

Starting location: Sternberg Museum of Natural History
Hays, Kansas (June 23rd)  

Ending location: Sternberg Museum of Natural History
Hays, Kansas (June 29th)   

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Introduction

 

Exploring on Devil’s Garden trail loop at Arches National Park

We will be driving from Dinosaur Ridge museum (Morrison, CO) to Arches National Monument in Utah! On our way, we will explore wildlife and ecosystems from prairie to mountains to rocky deserts. 

 

We will camp at different locations along the way, and use tools such as GPS units, black lights, spotting scopes, and aspirators (tiny insect vacuums) to learn about how professional scientists investigate the natural world. Students will explore how plant and animal life interacts in remarkable, unique ways bursting with opportunities for discovery! We will also introduce essential concepts in ecology and evolution that are key to understanding how living systems and organisms work, change, and interact. Along the way, we will emphasize discussion of ideas and critical thinking skills, helping students build knowledge as well as mental tools to tackle complex subjects. This camp is perfect for any middle school students with a love for wildlife and the outdoors. We can’t wait for you to join us!

Staff

Application Requirements

  • All application materials must turned in no later than May 1st, 2020. (But, the see the Admission Decision Schedule tab below for our four application and admission periods from January to May.) 
  • Student applicants must be ages 11 to 13 as of June 2020.
  • Complete online application.
    • To do this, you will need to set up an account with CampDoc. You can do this by clicking the link above. Once this is done, you’ll be able to log back in to your account as you complete the application process.
    • If you already have an account with CampDoc, simply log in. Your personal information should all be saved from your last application.
    • The waiver can be found in the online application.
    • The financial aid application can be found in the online application.
  • 1 page (2-3 paragraph) letter of interest from the student applicant.
    • You can find suggestions for writing your letter of interest here.
    • This must be submitted through the CampDoc application system.
  • Letter of recommendation from the non-family member for the student applicant.
    • This must be submitted through the CampDoc application system.
    • You can find instructions for recommendation letter-writers here.
    • Returning students in good standing do not need to submit a recommendation letter.
      • Standing is determined by staff. A student not in good standing will be expressly notified by the Camps Director.

Admission Decision Schedule

We run on a rolling admission schedule from January to May. Each month, we will evaluate students with complete application files to determine admission and scholarship award decisions. If your student is denied admission to a camp, you will be specifically notified. Below we have listed evaluation period cutoff dates, and notification periods.

Please contact us at SternbergCamps@FHSU.edu if you have any questions about this process. 

  • Application period 1
    • Cutoff: January 11
    • Admission notifications: January 20-24
  • Application period 2
    • Cutoff: February 15
    • Admission notifications: February 24-28
  • Application period 3
    • Cutoff: March 14
    • Admission notifications: March 23-27
  • Application period 4
    • Cutoff: April 11
    • Admission notifications: April 20-24
  • Application period 5
    • Cutoff: May 2
    • Admission notifications: May 4-8

Additional Information and Logistics

Drop off is 8:00am on the first day at the University of Oregon. Specifics on the drop-off location will be provided to admitted applicants.
Pick up is by 5:00pm on the last day, unless other specific arrangements are made well in advance with Camps staff. 

Please see Frequently Asked Questions for information about attending the camps for out of state students.

You can follow along with our camp programs on Twitter and Instagram at @SternbergCamps.

Program Cost

Tuition is $774 for Sternberg Museum of Natural History or Dinosaur Ridge members, and $860 for non-members.

A 10% deposit is paid at the time of registration. Students who are accepted into the camp must then have the remainder of the registration fee paid by the May 16, 2020 payment deadline.

Q: What if my student is not accepted into the camp they applied for? Do you refund tuition?
A: 100% of paid tuition is refunded to any students not accepted to a camp they applied for. This includes the initial deposit paid at the time of initial application.

Q: What is your cancellation and refund policy?
A:
Refund Policy:
Cancellations must be submitted in writing, via email or typed letter. Deposit fees for camp(s) applications are fully refundable until the applicant is officially accepted for admission. Prior to admission, the deposit is fully refundable in the case of cancellation submitted in writing. Denial of application acceptance will result in a full refund of the deposit payment for each camp the applicant was not accepted to. Following application acceptance, the deposit is no longer fully refundable, and each camp registration is held to a minimum 10-percent cancellation fee. For cancellations 30 to 10 days prior to the start of a camp, half of the total fee is refundable. For cancellations made 9 or fewer days prior to the start of the program, no amount of the fee is refundable. Registration fees are non-transferable between applicants or to accepted participants. Funds provided Sternberg Science Camps in the form of any financial scholarship to the participant will be withheld in any case where a scholarship awardee or their parent(s)/guardian(s) cancels an accepted application.

Cancellation Policy:
In the event of a trip being cancelled, either due to insufficient enrollment, sudden onset of extensively unsafe travel conditions, or other unforeseeable impairments, the Sternberg Science Camps will provide a refund of all tuition and/or deposit fees paid up to the point of cancellation. Any scholarship funds awarded to the applicant to aid in attendance will be retained by the Sternberg Science Camps program. We are unable to reimburse the cost of any travel expenses paid to transport successful applicants to and/or from their camp(s). We strongly recommend attendees insure their travel to and from their respective camp(s) being attended.

For answers to more possible questions, see our Frequently Asked Questions page!

 

Contact Us

For questions about the Sternberg Science Camps programs, contact us at SternbergCamps@fhsu.edu or 785-639-5249.

To understand the differences we observe in organisms, an understanding of evolution is absolutely necessary. Students are presented with an initial lesson on how populations of organisms evolve, and how selection over time can lead to new species. We continue lessons on evolutionary biology throughout the program, always relating back to the essential concepts of heredity, selection, and relating genes to physical features. From beak shape and feather colors in birds to the shapes flowers, we will be discussing evolutionary biology frequently, in great depth.

Studying the interconnected nature of organisms to each other and their environment is crucial for understanding the structure of that ecosystem, and why organisms have evolved as they have. Within the extremely broad field of ecology, we make sure to touch on the following during the program, tailored for abilities of a junior-high student audience:
– Population ecology
– Community ecology
– Niche ecology
– Trophic ecology
– Behavioral ecology
– Biogeography

Human environmental impacts are a huge concern, even in the typically arid lands of the southwest. The majority of our hikes and exploring will take place in habitats set aside to protect them from destruction and pollution. Even still, human environmental impacts can still be easily found in all the ecosystems we visit. Students will participate in lessons and discussions about the importance of habitat and biodiversity conservation, including how to approach these topics in the 21st century.

A majority of our field lessons and exploring will require 2-4 hour hikes through the rocky desert, with a lot of heat and bright sun. In order to stay safe and healthy, students will receive instruction on properly packing their backpack, optimal attire, hydration, footwear, use of sunscreen, self-awareness and group safety. Weather in the desert is typically hot during the day, and cooler at night (and we do go out on night hikes to look for nocturnal wildlife – owls and foxes and kangaroo rats!). Preparation is key, and we will make sure your student has the information to be prepared.

Taking initiative, staying organized, and effectively communicating are all important skills for working with a team in the field. Over the course of the program, students are coached on developing these areas. With guided opportunities to lead portions of field work, students are encouraged to develop their voices, organize team efforts, and build confidence in their abilities.

From staying hydrated to dealing with bad weather, students are introduced to the hazards of field work and how to effectively, safely deal with them. Staff provide lessons on safety through discussion, making sure students have a clear understanding of problems that can arise and how to effectively avoid them, or mitigate their effects afterwards.

Knowing some basics of camping is essential to field work. Scientific field work is often done in remote or semi-remote locations, making camping skills necessary to being able to do field work at all!

Training includes:
– Putting up tents
– Camp cooking
– Setting up and breaking down camp
– Leave No Trace strategies
– Efficiently loading and unloading field vehicles
– Environmental injury and illness mitigation
– Building and safely managing a campfire

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