Tayler Rocha, a high school intern for the Bureau of Land Management-Colorado San Luis Valley (SLV) Field Office, recently presented her research findings during the SLV’s monthly staff meeting. As her research shows, Rocha is quickly becoming a youth to watch for great success! For the second year in a row, she received numerous awards and honors for her science fair project, which was designed to answer management questions targeting wildlife, riparian and wetlands issues on BLM-managed land in Colorado’s San Luis Valley.
Tayler Rocha collects macro-invertebrates at San Luis Lakes as a part of her science fair project about endangered southwestern willow flycatcher habitat.
This year, Rocha’s project recommendeds strategies for managing endangered southwestern willow flycatcher habitat based on results from her research. She compared habitat characteristics on burned versus unburned lands as well as on occupied versus unoccupied habitat within the BLM’s Simpson/ McIntire property. The property was recently designated as critical habitat for the SWF, and a 900-acre wildfire in Spring 2013 provided the perfect opportunity for her study. Rocha received mentorship from Loree Harvey, an SLV seasonal employee, along with Monte Vista School District science teacher and other BLM employees.
Tayler takes water samples as part of her research.
Rocha’s project has not only taken her to Colorado’s statewide Science and Engineering Fair, but will also be instrumental in the future management strategy for the critical habitat. She has been a seasonal employee or volunteer for the wildlife program for the San Luis Valley Field Office for four years, and this is her second science fair project focused on assisting the BLM with management strategies for this important habitat.
Tayler Rocha proudly stands by her science fair project that analyzed critical habitat for the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher at the 2013 Regional Science Fair.
This year, Rocha received top honors at regional and state science fairs as well as the International Science and Engineering Fair. Over the past four years, she has consistently placed in the top three spots at the regional and state science fairs and even received a full-ride scholarship to Drexel University based on her research for the 2013 International Science and Engineering Fair.
Last November, Rocha applied to the highest-level research competition for non-college students, the Intel Science Talent Search. The competition is only open to high school seniors, and approximately 2,000 students nationwide enter each year. Students compete for top prizes, to include a week in Washinton D.C. to tour the nation’s capital and meet the President. Rocha was selected as one of 300 semifinalists. No student from the San Luis Valley has ever made the first cut, and only a handful of Colorado students in the last decade have made it this far. The BLM San Luis Valley Field Office proudly celebrates her success!
-Jill Lucero, Wetlands Biologist in BLM SLV; Alyssa Radcliff, Wildlife Biologist, BLM SLV; Kyle Sullivan, Public Affairs Specialist, Front Range District; and Courtney Whiteman, Public Affairs Specialist, Colorado State Office