Friday, December 21, 2012

Wildlife, field research and education: Wyoming EPSCoR's EOD Coordinator

Earlier this fall we started a series of blogs about the EPSCoR office. The following is part two of the series and features our Education, Outreach and Diversity (EOD) Coordinator, Beth Cable.

Beth Cable is Wyoming EPSCoR's EOD Coordinator
For a wildlife biologist, field research can look like a lot of things. Sometimes it is observing animals in their natural habitats; sometimes it is looking for changes in migration patterns; and sometimes it is bringing the joy of nature to students through field research projects. For Beth Cable, the Education, Outreach and Diversity (EOD) Coordinator for the CI-WATER grant at Wyoming EPSCoR, field research has been all of these things.
Beth has had a varied career, but of all her experiences, field work has been the best part. “The most fun part of my career was doing wildlife research,” Beth says. “It was a carefree environment where my learning curve was high. It was full of great experiences and gave me a chance to see a lot of the country and a lot of amazing natural things happening.”
Science was always Beth’s favorite subject in high school.  After working as a field researcher for several years following her degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from Penn State University, she started working in outdoor schools.
“I missed interacting with people,” Beth says.
The first outdoor school Beth worked at was in California. The yearlong school is part of California’s public school curriculum which aims to get students outside. As the school was located just south of Yosemite National Park, the students and teachers had a great opportunity to explore the park. After teaching in California, Beth came to Wyoming to work at the Teton Science Schools outside of Jackson Hole. The Teton Science Schools also offers courses all year long. In the winter, students studied the winter environment, including the snow. The summer, however, was the best part for Beth, because it focused on field research. She and her students participated in bird banding and vegetation mapping, among other projects.
“One of my favorite things to do is field research projects with high school students,” Beth says. “I loved doing field work and now I love doing it with students.”
Beth’s love of field research and working with high school students became the focus of her Master’s thesis at the University of Wyoming. After earning her masters, Beth taught science to 7th-12th graders in Rock River, Wyoming, before coming back to UW. Since then, Beth has helped design biology curriculum for UW and coordinated the Wyoming State Science Fair. Today, Beth’s passions and varied experiences guide her work at Wyoming EPSCoR and with Utah universities collaborating with UW on the CI-WATER grant.
“The best part of EPSCoR is the variety of things I get to do,” Beth says. “And I enjoy working with the people in Utah, even though they are far away. I have learned a lot from them.”
Beth’s latest work with Utah has been on toolboxes for K-12 schools in the two states. These toolboxes are designed to teach students about water and encourage them to explore the world of water around them.
“I’m really excited about the toolboxes,” Beth says.
The toolboxes are the result of hard work, collaboration and dedication by Beth and her partners at the Natural History Museum of Utah. Beth’s experiences with teaching and curriculum planning, with real-world science and learning in the outdoors have greatly informed the toolboxes. She is looking forward to piloting them and sending them around the state.
Outside of science and her work at EPSCoR, Beth is an avid trail runner and skate skier.

By Kali S. McCrackin
Photo courtesy of Beth Cable

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