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Research and Science

There are a number of ongoing internships and community science outreach programs happening right here in our own back yard! STEM Interns from VMASC and the Hampton Roads Workforce Council have put together this space to documents some of these efforts. See below for more details!

Listen to the Podcast produced and recorded by the 2022 Hoffler Creek Interns!

DISCOVERY ON LAKE BALLARD!

For their deliverable, the interns this year produced and recorded a podcast!

Listen to these 4 short episodes to hear the students' first hand account of their experiences working at the nature preserve and taking part in the ODU VMASC STEM internship in partnership with the Hampton Roads Workforce Council.

If the embed doesn't work on your browser, listen directly on SoundCloud HERE

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The 2022 Summer STEM Internship from VMASC and the Hampton Roads Workforce Council

This summer, four High-School students - 3 from Portsmouth City Schools, and one homeschooled student – took part in a paid STEM internship program Hosted by ODU’s Virginia Modeling Analysis and Simulation Center(VMASC) and Hampton Roads Workforce Council at Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve.

 

For the 3rd year in a row, this internship serves to provide students with connections to the applied modeling and simulation research and technology in environmental science.

This internship focuses on connecting students with career professionals in STEM in Ecology, and aims to reveal the deep connection between these disciplines and modeling and simulation technology.

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The ultimate goal for the interns was to discover as much as possible about the lake, following some strange occurrences in December of 2021, which saw the lake set upon by thousands of seagulls. Listen to the students podcast (above) to hear all about the surprising discovery they made.

I just think it is so cool that we made a real scientific discovery right here in our own back yard. I feel like the work we’re doing is going to have a real impact on future generations of citizen scientists in our community.

-Nakaiya Hudson, 2022 Intern

Speakers this year included:

  • Dr. Sophie Clayton and team - Oceanographers and microbiologists from ODU, who gave a presentation about the fascinating world of water-based microbiology

  • Dr. John Adam - A mathematician and author from ODU who gave a presentation about the math and patterns found in nature

  • Dr. Tom Allen, Rob Stewart, and Team - (pictured) from ODU Science dept., they brought some incredible drone technology, and the students got a taste of field science as they helped to repair and drive a sophisticated "Hydrone" around lake Ballard.

  • and more!

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The 2021 Summer STEM Internship from VMASC and the IncuHub

For the second year in a row, VMASC and the IncuHub have come together to create incredible opportunities for underserved populations in Hampton Roads. This year, several top-performing students were selected from IC Norcom High School in Portsmouth to participate in the program. 

The paid internship was hosted at Hoffler Creek, and focused on STEM based entrepreneurship in the fields of ecology and environmental science. It was these interns who curated content for and composed the 'Discover' section of this website. Between getting their hands dirty mitigating invasive species or working at the Living Shoreline, These exceptional students were able to attend several presentations from high-profile career scientists from this area.

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Speakers this year included:

  • Dr. Sophie Clayton and team - Oceanographers and microbiologists from ODU, who gave a presentation about the fascinating world of water-based microbiology

  • Dr. John Adam - A mathematician and author from ODU who gave a presentation about the math and patterns found in nature

  • Dr. Brian Killough - A Scientist from NASA who showed the interns how to access and use Satellite data for citizen science, and even track the spread of wisteria in the preserve!

  • Samantha Sammons from the Oakland Zoo, who gave a talk about environmental conservation

  • and more!

WTKR News 3 Interviewed  out to document the internship this year, and generated some good press for everyone involved.

"My favorite thing about the internship was getting to hear from all of the experts and scientists; Dr. Sophie Clayton was my favorite - I am now definitely looking into Marine biology as a valid career option!"

          ~Kayla, 2021 Intern

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The Living Shoreline

A living shoreline is a protected, stabilized coastal edge made of natural materials such as plants, sand, or rock. Unlike a concrete seawall or other hard structure, which impede the growth of plants and animals, living shorelines grow over time. 

-(From the NOAA website)

The Raparian along the Hoffler Creek is lined with oyster shells as part of a project to establish a protected habitat for filter feeders to keep the local waterways healthy. Walk around to the West side of the Ballard Lake Trail and check it out!!

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Tick Research

Dr. Holly Gaff and ODU's Tick Research Team study the tick populations at Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve. As one of the 12 field sites the team visits, 

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The GoatScaping Program

Goats are being used for invasive species mitigation at Hoffler Creek! Try to catch them on the northwest end of the Homestead trail next summer, happily munching on Wisteria (and everything else). 

These cute furry critters have been an important tool for saving the canopy of the preserve from aggressively invasive vines that have been doing serious damage for the past few years.

Hoffler Creek first reached out to RVA Goats in the summer of 2021. The treatment was successful enough to warrant a follow-up treatment in the summer of 2022. Pictured is 3-month old Rico, one of almost 100 goats that were brought in and fenced off - wisteria beware!

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