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      Jean Sullivan
      Communications Director
      732-473-3100 x 3060

    Page Title| Happenings News Stories  2009


    March 9, 2009

    MATES Students Win Earth Watch Award
    Jean Sullivian, March 9, 2009

    OCEAN COUNY, NEW JERSEY- As the weather warms thoughts turn to the summer months ahead. Trips to the beach, long lazy days, or even a summer job come to mind, but for one high school student, Ashley Millet, summer will be all about research. Ashley, of Forked River is a junior at the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science, or MATES, which is part of the Ocean County Vocational technical School district. She learned recently that she has been awarded an Earthwatch Fellowship Student Challenge Award through the Earthwatch Institute and she will be traveling to California for two weeks this summer to participate in a research expedition.

    The Earthwatch Institute envelopes an international community of scientists, educators, students and businesspeople to gain the greatest benefits from research expeditions around the globe. The mission of Earthwatch is to “engage people worldwide in scientific field research and education to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment.” The Institute’s programs award educational opportunities for students and educators to team up with scientists for a once-in a lifetime learning experience while providing the necessary research support to sustain the expeditions. The Student Challenge Awards Program (SCAP) is a fully funded opportunity for teens to become involved in a field study. SCAP is a highly competitive program that is offered to very few applicants. Visit www.earthwatch.org for more information.

    As part of the selection process a student must first be nominated by an educator or guidance counselor. Ashley was nominated by MATES Supervisor John Wnek, who said, “While working with Ashley the past three years, I have found she is a conscientious and dedicated student. She is a member of the Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) team and participates in numerous clubs and activities. She spends much time at MATES and has an affinity for conservation and environmental stewardship. Ashley has a desire to learn more about the role of species in their natural environments, and how we can make changes to positively influence them. “

    Ashley had been notified that she was among the several hundred finalists under consideration and heard last week that she was one of the 92 high school students from across the United States that had been chosen. Although students do not choose a particular research expedition, they do submit a list of topics they interest them and efforts are made to place the recipients based on their general interests. All expenses for this two-week expedition are covered by the Student Challenge Award.

    Ashley will be traveling to Trucke, California, near Lake Tahoe, to work as a field assistant in research regarding the impact of climate changes by studying native caterpillars and to evaluate the findings. She will work alongside renowned research teams using the latest scientific technology and innovative methods. As part of the award criteria, Ashley will be required to prepare two research papers based on her research experience. She may also have the opportunity to present her findings next year at a statewide science symposium.

    “I am excited and nervous at the same time. It is a great opportunity but I have never traveled by myself before. I am the first MATES student to receive a Student Challenge Award from Earthwatch so this is a very big deal for me and for my school.”

    John Wnek added, “For MATES, it is great for students to see the connection between human interactions and species functions. Ashley will have an opportunity to travel to California to work on the effects of Global Climate Change on caterpillars. This extension will compliment what she is learning here and she will “blaze the trail” for other MATES students to be a part of the SCAP program.”

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