BEMP’s annual Crawford Symposium came early this year! On February 15, 2019, BEMP celebrated their co-founder Clifford S. Crawford by bringing together over 250 wide-ranging individuals, from elementary school poets to graduate student researchers to State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard. The one thing everyone had in common was an incredible passion for New Mexico, the Middle Rio Grande, and its bosque.
The day started with a scientific poster presentation. Incorporating over 20 posters, topics included woody debris fire potential in the bosque, the Tamarisk Leaf Beetle, Rio Grande groundwater, Chytrid fungus in amphibians, and freshwater turtle ecology. Among this year’s poster presenters was the Danda Ecological Monitoring Program (DEMP) from the Sustainable Development Lab of UNM’s Nepal Study Center. This program works toward increasing public awareness of water and air pollution to improve urban ecosystems within the Danda River system in Nepal. We are honored to have influenced and inspired DEMP’s monitoring protocols and community engagement in Nepal. Crawford Symposium also incorporated tables from some of our partner organizations, such as Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge, Rio Grande Phenology Trail Nature’s Notebook Program, Sierra Club, and the Middle Rio Grande Endangered Species Collaborative Program.
Next up were an incredible variety of oral presentations by K-12 community scientists BEMP engaged with throughout the school year. Proving that it does not take an advanced degree to meaningfully contribute to the greater scientific community, these students blew everyone away with the depth of knowledge and dedication on display. Featured presenters were student scientists from Bosque School, MacArthur Elementary, Horizons Albuquerque, Albuquerque Sign Language Academy, La Academia de Esperanza, Atrisco Heritage Academy High School, and Amy Biehl High School. Topics included BEMP’s monthly monitoring, bosque bird banding, and isotopic analysis of porcupine diets. BEMP’s own Kelly Steinberg presented her Master’s research while BEMP’s Crawford intern, Shelby Bazan, gave a moving presentation on the inspiring life of Cliff Crawford and his importance to BEMP 22 years later.
Following the student presentations was Cynthia Naha from the Tribal Waste and Response Steering Committee who spoke passionately about the concerns, education, and engagement of tribal professionals in environmental fields. Albuquerque Poet Laureate Michelle Otero then took the stage with BEMP After School Science (BASS) students from Inez Elementary. Bringing the entire crowd to its feet, Michelle and these amazing budding poets performed a series of bosque-inspired poems the Inez kids had written themselves. Michelle Otero concluded with some beautiful bosque-centric poems of her own.
Our keynote speaker this year was State Land Commissioner, Stephanie Garcia Richard. Stephanie lovingly spoke about how, before embarking on a political course, she used to be an educator who worked with BEMP students to collect monthly monitoring data. She stressed how the impact of community science travels far beyond schools or study sites, and actually influences and informs policy-making on state and federal levels. BEMP is so thankful to have someone like Stephanie Garcia Richard speak on our behalf and represent the people of New Mexico while working toward improving our public lands.
The entire BEMP community would like to thank everyone who participated in and supported this year’s Symposium. It was an incredible celebration of the hard work students, staff, and partners put into studying the Middle Rio Grande and keeping our bosque happy and healthy. We cannot wait to see you all next year and hope you continue to spread ecological knowledge and love for the environment throughout the year.
Until next time! –BEMP staff
Blog: Shelby Bazan and Alex Levine