For Perkins High School junior Ashlyn Beatty, her future has been known since she was a little girl – water and animals.
In the proposal for her Academy Experience, Ashlyn shared: "I want a field experience related to marine and wetland sustainability and protection and marine and wetland animal protection because keeping the environment safe and healthy means very much to me and I hold those ideals very close to my heart. Since I was a little girl I would also bounce around the ideas of what I wanted to be when I grew up; even though the job title differed, it always went back to one general topic, water and animals. Being able to help them would be a dream come true."
For her field experience, Ashlyn has been on site at Old Woman Creek, a protected State Nature Preserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve. As soon as weather permitted this spring, Ashlyn was out in the field helping with a project to control an invasive species of tree, Ailanthus altissima, commonly known as the tree of heaven.
In her journals, Ashlyn shared: "At my field experience I worked with Sebastian Mejia and we tagged male and female trees of heaven. We worked in marked off areas tracking back and forth in a grid pattern to mark all of them to be taken down in the summer to stop the spread of the invasive species and to keep spotted lantern flies from moving into the area.
"We marked a ⅛ mile square and walked it to look for the trees. We also looked at the tracks we found in the snow to determine what types of animals were walking around before us. One new thing I learned this week was that Mr. Mejia is taking the GPS coordinates and plotting his own map to use in the summer when they go in to cut down trees."
After successfully learning the tree tagging protocol, Ashlyn worked independently to mark a section of woods; she then identified and logged the trees of heaven in that section of the reserve.
To round out her experience, Ashlyn was a member of the PHS Mock Trial team. The analysis and communication skills she developed in this activity will be assets in her future work to protect the environment. She also completed an online course focused on Forestry and Natural Resources.
Through her Academy Experience, Ashlyn is already making her dream come true.