Are you looking for a way turn a love of trees into a meaningful and rewarding career? You may want to consider a career in arboriculture. This field involves both the scientific study and physical care of trees, shrubs, vines, and other woody plants. To learn more about what is involved with a career in arboriculture from an expert, we were fortunate to interview Dr. Brian Kane of UMass Amherst for How Do You Science. Dr. Kane was generous to share his professional experiences with our HDYS readers:
Dr. Brian Kane, ISA Cert. Arb. #NY-0448
MA Arborists Association Professor
Dept. of Environmental Conservation
1. What do you do for work and how does it use science or STEM principles?
My job has three parts: teaching, research, and outreach. I use science in all of them. I try to incorporate the scientific method in all of my teaching and outreach work (outreach is partly interacting with consumers and professionals to help them understand and practice proper tree care). And I obviously use science when I conduct experiments.
2. What level of schooling or training does someone need to get this job?
Most jobs at public universities require a Ph.D., but there are some that require only a Master’s degree.
3. What is the most unique/enjoyable part of your job?
I get to be my own boss most of the time. For example, I can decide which research projects to work on, and, with some limitations, which classes I teach.
4. How did you become interested in doing the job you have?
I used to be a professional arborist, and I became interested in teaching and research when I realized that there are many aspects of Arboriculture that needed to be studied experimentally.
5. What advice would you give someone hoping to find a job in your profession?
I would encourage anyone who likes being outside to consider a career in Arboriculture. It’s a great way to make a living, there are plenty of career opportunities in New England (and across the country, too), and there are different mental and physical challenges on every job you do. It’s also critical to obtain a good education in Math and the sciences. Biology, Chemistry and Physics are part of nearly every aspect of Arboriculture. For example, you need to understand soil chemistry if you want to fertilize a tree to help it grow, and you need to understand physics to know how big a branch you can rig safely from the tree to the ground.
6. If someone wanted to learn more about the type of work you do, where can they learn more?
The best thing to do is enroll in the UMass Pre-College program in Arboriculture. Any high school student can enroll, and we teach all the basics of Arboriculture. If you’re old enough, you can also try to find a summer job with a tree care company—just make sure the company has a Certified Arborist on staff and that they have the proper insurance.
Dr. Kane provided some great real-life information for anyone who may be interested in learning more about a career in arboriculture. Perhaps you aren't sure if pursuing a Ph.D. is for you, but there are still many different opportunities to work within this field at many different levels. If you are interested in learning more from Dr. Kane about the many different aspects of his profession, he can be contacted by email at bkane[at]eco.umass.edu or through his UMass webpage.
Before you leave, check out some of these related videos from Dr. Kane and visit their UMass Arbor Facebook page to see arboriculture in action.
Now it’s not every day that an animal comes back from the brink of extinction, but the little rabbit known as the New England Cottontail has done just that. The New England Cottontail is the area's only native rabbit and at one time had a large population. Due to significant habitat loss, the New England Cottontail population shrunk to just five locations around the region, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In 2006, it was classified as a candidate for endangered protection. As of September 2015, the New England Cottontail was declassified as a result of conservation efforts. It took an organized collaboration from state and federal agencies, private companies, animal organizations, universities, and many more groups to save the New England Cottontail. Preventing an animal from being an endangered species is a tall order, but that’s where people in the wildlife conservation field come in. If you are interested in working with wildlife, here are just a few careers to consider.
A Wildlife Biologist researches and monitors wildlife and their habitats. They can collect data on many different things like diseases, behaviors, genetics, nutrition, population dynamics, etc. They use this information to help animal species and their environment.
For more info, go to the EnvironmentalScience.org
A Wildlife Rehabilitator treats and cares for injured, orphaned, or sick wild animals so that they can be released back to the wild.
For more info, go to the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association.
Wildlife Law Enforcement Officer
A Wildlife Law Enforcement Officer is responsible for enforcing wildlife laws and regulations. They also do population surveys and educate the public about wildlife.
For more info, go to U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service – Office of Law Enforcement.
A Wildlife Technician works with a Wildlife Biologist or Manager to help collect data on animals and their habitats.
For more info, go to Eco Canada.
Wildlife Educator/Park Ranger
Wildlife Educators teach the public about wildlife and conservation. They also take important scientific data and explain it to the public in a way that is relatable. They can teach to all different age groups, from kids to adults. They also may work hands-on with educational animals to help engage the public. A big part of a Park Ranger’s job is to educate the public like a Wildlife Educator, but they also are responsible for protecting public land.
For more info, go to: ParkRanger.edu and Zooniversity.org
A Wildlife Inspector seizes illegal animal shipments for the pet trade. They usually work at ports of entry to the U.S. and have a very important job in helping stop illegal dealings with wild animals.
For more info, go to U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Today marks the first celebration of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Last December, the United Nations passed a resolution to celebrate women working in science and their contributions to the field.
While men may outnumber women in most STEM careers (only 22% of environmental scientists are women!), some fields have a higher percentage of women that you might have thought:
By jump-starting girls’ interest in STEM subjects and by recognizing strong female role models, we can begin to break the stereotype. Encourage those around you to pursue their interests! Check out libraries, museums, documentaries … the resources are endless. All you need is have the courage to follow your passions!
For more inspiration, check out this article from ABC News featuring 5 top female scientists!
Five women making strides in the science world
As a science nerd I am always on the lookout for new information, seeking out websites that give useful and reliable information. One that will inspire me to read further, experiment more and just get excited about science! Recently, I came across a website that is one of the best resources I have found in a long time. It’s called the National Science Digital Library and it’s got everything and anything you could ever look for in the STEM realm.
When you first navigate to the webpage you will see that it is simply designed. A menu bar at the top of the website guides you through different search categories. What I like about this website is that I can be very specific in what I’m searching for, or go broad and browse through the results. If you are a student researching a paper or project, you can search by subject or material type. If you are a teacher, you can search by academic standard and grade level. It’s feels like using Google … but much more streamlined in terms of the quality of result you will discover.
The greatest advantage is that the results from your search will be high quality, meaning that the sources you find are from accredited universities, colleges, societies, or federal and state institutions. Also, these sources are FREE! In my search for quality resources I often feel hindered by the requirement of creating accounts or paying for some materials with unreliable information, so the free resources on this site were a relief to find. In the event that there is a cost to the resource, you are warned well ahead of time (before you get emotionally attached to the resource … so frustrating when it doesn’t work out).
Here are some screen shots from a resources I used the other day to create a printable grading sheet. I thought this was a super nifty idea which would truly make my life easier, were I a teacher. So, I selected the type of project: Oral Presentation, and the grade: 5-8. As you can see, there is a place where I can write my name and project title as well as some very specific instructions on how to use the source.
In the second screen shot I have written my name and used the drop down menu to select my parameters for evaluation.
This third picture shows my final worksheet, ready to use! It’s so easy and if I’m honest, a little bit fun.
As, all in all I would highly recommend this website to any student, teacher, parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, grandparent (you get the idea!) that wants to learn more or just find some new ways to learn about a favorite topic. The videos and games available are fun an entertaining, the articles are accurate, and the learning is real! Enjoy!
When you were younger, did you always enjoy building with blocks? Maybe operating the dump trucks in the sandbox were more your style? Well, if those activities are still what you wish you could be doing as you get older, you may want to learn more about becoming a civil engineer.
Civil engineers are professionals who design, manage, build, and maintain large construction projects. New mall going up in town? Civil engineers are likely the people who are overseeing everything from the construction of the parking lots to the layout of the roads that get people in and out of the area. A bridge being repaired on a local highway? Civil engineers are likely involved there, too. Whenever you see large construction projects and heavy equipment, you can bet there is probably a civil engineer on site.
Civil engineers have at least an undergraduate degree, and many have graduate degrees in their field. With the responsibility they have for large projects and the diversity of their jobs, it's important that all civil engineers are highly trained in their profession. Degrees in civil engineering are available at both state schools and private colleges, so there are many opportunities for schooling in your local area and around the country.
If you have always like building things and being outdoors, civil engineering may be the right profession for you. Check out the video below form the American Society of Civil Engineers to see some civil engineers in action.
To learn more about civil engineering, visit one of these resources to learn more or to speak to people who are in the profession:
* American Society of Civil Engineers
* UMass Dartmouth's Civil and Environmental Engineering Department
* Northeastern University Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
* Society of Women Engineers
Turn your passion into your profession!
Humans science constantly. Everyday transactions and interactions- from pumping gas to boiling water to having a simple conversation- involve science on some level. We embrace science as an active presence in our lives from the minute we wake up in the morning to the second we fall asleep at night. This week, however, we are going to take a step into the animal kingdom to take a closer look at how a feathered member of the animal kingdom uses science every day!
They eat bones. They bathe in mud. They dye their feathers bright red and orange. They are Bearded Vultures. And they science. The Bearded Vulture, also known as the Ossifrage (which means “bone breaker”) is no bird brain when it comes to getting a tasty meal!
While most vulture species typically scavenge for dead animals to feed on (also known as carrion), bearded vultures feast almost exclusively on bones. Bones are often overlooked by other birds and animals, so they are a bountiful, highly nutritious source of food. Bearded Vultures, which are native to parts of Europe, Africa, and Asia, are the only bird species to specialize in eating them! More specifically, the whole bones of animals like sheep and goats.
How does a vulture go about eating the bones of a sheep or goat? They smash the bones into bits, of course! Bearded vultures have developed the ability to ride thermal columns of air high into the sky over the rocky cliffs they call home while carrying large pieces of bone. When they are high enough, the vultures release the bone and let it plummet back towards earth. Upon impact, the bone shatters into smaller, easier-to-eat pieces. Yummy!
Check out the incredible video below to see a bearded vulture in action:
How cool is that!? Did you see all of the science happening? Let’s break it down:
For more information (including more pictures and videos) on the incredible Bearded Vulture, visit www.arkive.org!
The word taxidermy usually conjures up thoughts of dusty museum halls or memories of that large elk head in the local VFW. But taxidermy has had an interesting new resurgence with a younger generation. Young, educated professionals are being drawn to taxidermy and are interested in a more sustainable practice of the ancient craft. “Ethical Taxidermy,” as it’s called, is a more humane way to discover the animal world.
What makes it ethical? Ethical taxidermy is when the specimens used are not killed for the purposes of taxidermy. Generally, the animals have died of natural or accidental causes. Also, many ethical taxidermists use the entire animal. Taxidermy is more eco-friendly than you would think. Ethical taxidermists use non-toxic chemicals that won’t hurt the environment. No formaldehyde here!
So what’s with this rebirth of taxidermy? Making and doing things by hand is popular with millennials. From knitting to farming to woodworking and everything in between, this generation is putting a sustainable twist to old techniques. And it doesn’t hurt that being a science nerd is in vogue.
Some maybe a little squeamish at the process of taxidermy, but it can be admired for its scientific and artistic qualities. Taxidermists have to be well versed in the anatomy and physiology of many different species. Also, they are responsible for restoring museum displays and extracting DNA from endangered or extinct species. Taxidermists are also talented artists and need to make their subject accurate and visually appealing. If you want to learn more about young people in the taxidermy industry, check out:
Mickey Alice Kwapis at www.mickeyalicekwapis.com
Allis Markham at www.preytaxidermy.com
Imagine you are out on a walk at a local nature preserve. As you walk, you are struck by the beauty and variety of the plants you see and the birds you hear. You wish you could learn more about the nature around you, but aren’t sure of where to start. An invaluable resource in exploring and learning about the natural world around us is a field guide. Not sure what a field guide is, exactly? Let me explain.
A field guide is a book that helps its reader identify biotic (alive!) and abiotic (non-living!) objects in nature. Field guides can be general to an area like the National Audubon Society Field Guide to New England, or more subject specific like the Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Massachusetts. The field guide you choose should be based on your learning goals. So if you want to learn more about trees, choose a field guide that identifies plants. If you wanted to learn more about mushrooms, you would choose a fungi field guide.
Once you have selected your field guide, you need to be able to use it. Start by reading it at home. Most field guides will have an introduction or overview and a “How to Use This Book” section. It may sound like a lot of reading, but the best part about field guides is that the written sections are short and to the point (and there are always pictures).
Once you feel confident in your field guide know-how, you can head outside and start using it!
There are two main ways to use a field guide. The first is to identify a species in nature by comparing the real life object to the picture in the book. The second is to look up a species you already know in the index, find the corresponding page and read the information that is provided.
Whichever method you choose you are sure to learn more about the natural world around you, and truly impress your family and friends in the future.
If you were to make a list of animals you will probably never see in the wild, that list would probably include Tyrannosaurus rex and the dodo, among others. But what if that wasn't the case? Just like in the movie Jurassic Park, there are scientists who use specialized scientific equipment and a fine understanding of genetics to try to answer some of the oldest mysteries we have. Did you know there were real scientists who do that?
There are scientists called paleogeneticists who study the genetic makeup of lifeforms that have long been extinct. From the bacteria that caused the plague deaths in the middle ages to the genetics of ancient humans, paleogeneticists work with tiny fragments of remaining DNA to learn more about organisms from another time.
Becoming a paleogeneticist requires a thorough understanding of biology, archeology, and genetics, among other skills, so becoming one of these specialized scientists takes a significant amount of study. But even though it can be a long process, how cool would it be to be a real life Jurassic Park scientist?
To read more about the neat work being done in this fascinating field of science, click here to visit paleogenetics.com.
Welcome to How We Science, a blog sponsored and maintained by the Natural Resources Trust of Easton and dedicated to sharing the wonders of science and STEM-related careers in ways you may not even know existed. Each week we will be bringing you great information about pursuing careers in science and other STEM fields, resources for learning more about science and STEM professions, and interviews with real people who are scientists in the real world. We hope to educate, inspire, and excite all of our readers!
We also want to hear from you! Are you a student scientist with a special interest that you want to make into your career? Do you work in a really cool STEM job and want to tell others about it? Do you have a science job that no one else knows exists? We want to know more! At How We Science we are looking for real life stories, short videos, science-related book and website reviews, and more that tell people about how you use and enjoy science in our work and home life.
Contact us by email with your post ideas and questions. We look forward to sharing our excitement about science with you!
How We Science is moderated and edited by the staff of the Natural Resources Trust of Easton.