Stories from the Field

An Alcoa Science Symposium in the Yosemite Valley

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It's not every day that students have the opportunity to present at a Science Symposium held in the beautiful Yosemite Valley. At the close of last week's Yosemite Alcoa Scholars program, our Scholars took a bus down to Yosemite Valley and saw iconic Yosemite landmarks including El Capitan and Half Dome.

After spending some time soaking up the beauty of the Valley, Scholars broke into their research groups to set up for the much anticipated Science Symposium. Each of the three trail groups had been subdivided into four research teams. These science investigations, centered around biodiversity and climate change in the park, were completed during their time in the backcountry.

Each research team focused on one of four modules: forest density, ladder fuels, dead and down fuel load and canopy height and coverage. These modules look at how different variables affect the likelihood of, and intensity of fires. Each of these variables are important when considering how climate change impacts a national park like Yosemite.

Scholars greeted Yosemite visitors, National Park Service Staff and NatureBridge guests as they showcased their Fire Ecology modules, explaining their investigations and sharing their experience completing field science research while backpacking through the Yosemite Wilderness. Each poster was informative and engaging, complete with graphs and charts, results and discussions.

Afterward, the Scholars spent the afternoon in the Valley to complete a stewardship project. Groups helped with conifer removal, cairn removal, velvet grass removal and trash pick up. They then spent one final night at Crane Flat campus before heading back to NatureBridge's Golden Gate Campus in the Marin Headlands on Friday. There was an evening of reflections and closing celebrations before Scholars traveled back to their home cities and countries where they will share what they've learned with friends, family and their local communities. 

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