TERF is a field research internship program for high school students based at Tyson Research Center.  Selected teen participants have completed the SIFT program during the previous year and apply their field skills to ongoing research projects at Tyson and other partnering research sites in the St. Louis area.


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The Student Experience

During the summer, the four-week program provides teens with exposure to a variety of field science experiences and skills. TERF teens work as paid members of research teams alongside WashU scientists, post-doctoral researchers, graduate students and undergraduate students. Fall and winter activities are designed to provide important community outreach, emphasizing the value of environmental research.

TERF provides a cultural apprenticeship in university-based environmental biology research and training in scientific communication. It is an advanced summer experience modeled on the undergraduate research fellowships offered at Tyson.

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TERF Participant Activities

During a June or July four-week session, teen participants are involved in the following activities:

  • Daily work in support of a research team,

  • Weekly colloquium sessions including ecological content, experimental design, scientific communication, and conversation with career panelists,

  • Time for reflective discussion,

  • Weekly research seminar and dinner with Tyson community and guest scientists.

During the following school year, participants work on posters and presentations designed to bridge the communication gap between scientists and the public. They participate in symposia at Washington University and Tyson.


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"One of the main reasons I decided to participate in TERF was that I knew I would get some great experience working with professors and undergraduates before I even get to college."

Former TERF participant

I am so glad that I did end up working at Tyson; it helped prepare me for college, gave me a network of contacts, provided new friends of all ages, and allowed me to gain firsthand experience most kids my age would not be able to do. My goal was to learn what really is involved in natural research, and I do feel like a got a realistic picture of that.
— Former TERF participant
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past terf participants and their posters


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“There's no way we can experience the 'real' scientific world in high school alone. So without this, we would be completely unprepared for the world we'd be entering when we graduate.”

Former TERF participant