In their first week, students participated in a 2-day orientation which included learning safety protocols for lab and field work. By far, the highlight of safety training was practicing how to use a fire extinguisher! Students also learned orienteering skills using a map and compass in the forest and were educated on how to prevent tick bites throughout the summer. The orientation concluded with a thorough walk through Harvard Forest led by researchers who introduced the students to the large variety of ongoing experiments located throughout the property.Starting Wednesday morning, students began meeting with their research mentors, learning how to identify plants and vegetation, collecting samples in the forest for analysis, and teaching each other how to use statistical programs they will need for their projects.
The highlight of the week was a walk through the woods with David Foster, Director of Harvard Forest. As the students learned the history of the landscape around them, Dr. Foster also taught the students the art of "focused walking": Walk briskly along a path to a stopping point, then pause to observe your natural surroundings. Repeat.