Shaw Institute for Field Training

SIFT caveSIFT: Scientifically minded teens making natural connections

The SIFT program is an introductory field skills training program at Shaw Nature Reserve designed to engage teenagers in scientific exploration of the natural world.

SIFT Essentials

  • Focus on collaboration, field skills acquisition and science content
  • Exposure to a variety of field projects and career field scientists
  • Learning and paid fieldwork during summer and following school year
  • Transportation from the St. Louis area is provided

Apply for SIFT 2017-2018

Application deadline: March 27, 2017

Two teacher recommendations are required, so plan to discuss your application to the SIFT program with those teachers well before your spring break.


The Student Experience

During a one-week training session in June, teens are introduced to a variety of Missouri ecosystems and gain skills necessary to conduct field research, including plant and animal identifications, biotic sampling and census techniques, testing of abiotic factors, and training in the use of maps, compass and GPS.

During the rest of the summer and school year, teens are involved in important research and restoration activities at Shaw, Tyson Research Center and other field research sites in the St. Louis area. Fieldwork opportunities may include invasive species management, prairie reconstruction, plant and animal inventories, and prescribed burns. Teens are paid a stipend for their fieldwork.

Important Dates

  • December: SIFT application becomes available
  • March: application deadline
  • May: orientation meeting for accepted SIFT participants and parents
  • June: five-day summer training session with overnight Thursday to Friday at the Dana Brown Overnight Center
  • June, July, August: work opportunities on field research projects
  • September: full-day Saturday session
  • January: winter weekend with overnight
  • March: full-day Saturday session