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Mid-Hudson YES Program

Engaging a diverse group of students and teachers in research.

The 2020 Young Environmental Scientists (YES) program will give 8 high school students and 2 high school teachers the chance to design and carry out a field and lab study of a local environmental issue.

We hope to run the 2020 MH-YES program but will do so only in accordance with health and safety directives from local authorities and the Cary administration.

Updates will be posted on our site and social media as information becomes available.

MH-YES 2020 Program

MH-YES 2020 is a full time, 6 week program starting Monday July 6 and ending Friday August 14, 2020. The program runs from 9 am to 4 pm Monday-Thursday, and 9 am to 1 pm on Friday, and takes place at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, Cary Institute in Millbrook, and field sites around the region. Transportation is provided.

Two teams - including four high school students, a high school teacher, an undergraduate student and a scientist - will work together to design and conduct a research project during the summer program.

Overview of the 2020 program schedule

  • Late-spring. Selected students participate in a 2 hour after school orientation session.
  • Week 1 (July 6-10). Dive into Aquatic Ecology Boot Camp at Marist College and Cary Institute. Students participate in hands-on instruction in aquatic ecology, environmental science, and laboratory safety. They also begin to plan their summer research projects.
  • Weeks 2-5 (July 13-August 7). Students, teachers and scientists work in two teams to design and conduct collaborative research projects. In addition, students go on field trips, participate in workshops in communication, career opportunities in environmental science, and networking with other students and scientists in the region. Students also participate in community outreach and engagement activities periodically during the program.
  • Week 6 (August 10-14). The teams wrap up their research, analyze and summarize their findings and participate in a final symposium hosted at Cary Institute where they present their work in the form of a scientific poster.

Through the MH-YES program, high school students will build proficiency in research, data collection, interpretation, and the utilization of lab techniques, in tandem with the development of communication, collaboration, leadership and presentation skills and a deeper connection to their local watershed.

MH-YES students
2018 Marist team members Joelle Weir, Chloe Rosa, and Anointing Akpojetavwo collect water quality data in the field with REU student Ashana Neale. Photo: Mike Gendler


Teams will consist of four high school students, an undergraduate student, a science teacher, and a research mentor. One team will be based at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, and the other team will be based at Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook. Teams will conduct research on pertinent water quality issues in the Hudson Valley, including but not limited to: Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB) in the Hudson and its tributaries under our warming climate, tributary flashiness, turbidity and water chemistry responses to storm events. Standard abiotic and biotic water quality measures will be collected by both teams to allow for cross-team comparison. While the general research topics are set, it is imperative that research teams work together to develop their specific research questions.

Past student research projects include:

  • Effects of Impoundments on Water Quality in the Upper Fall Kill Creek Using multiple Independent Variables (2019)
  • Fecal Indicator Bacteria on Plants in the Fall Kill (2018)
  • Exploring Soils’ Retention of Salt and the Effect of Road Salt on Plant Height (2018)

Student Eligibility

The Summer MH-YES Program is for students who are rising juniors or seniors (current 10th and 11th grade students). We are committed to engaging a diverse group in the program. Students from under-represented groups are especially encouraged to apply.

For Students

Teacher Eligibility

The summer RET (Research Experiences for Teachers) Fellowship Program is for local high school science teachers interested in strengthening their research and mentoring skills.

For Teachers


July 6th-Aug 14th, 2020


The program is 32 hours per week. Participants will work from 9am - 4pm Monday through Thursday, and from 9am-1pm on Friday, with occasional variation depending on specific scheduling.

About the MH-YES Program

The MH-YES Program will engage a diverse group of local high school students with teachers, undergraduates and scientists in authentic water quality research that addresses pressing environmental challenges in the local community.

The aims are to build students' knowledge, skills, motivation, and confidence for pursuing environmental science careers, while supporting teachers' ability to pique student interest in environmental.

Youth from under-represented groups in the Hudson Valley often lack opportunities to engage with their local environment and consequently feel that environmental science is not accessible to them. MH-YES addresses this problem directly by providing an opportunity for students to conduct original research. We have developed a network of scientists and educators in the mid-Hudson Valley committed to mentoring, research, and community engagement. Students will conduct collaborative investigations into human influences on the ecology of the Hudson River and its local tributaries.

Research teams will work out of the networked institutions in the Hudson Valley. The MH-YES program will engage with the community during the Dive into Aquatic Ecology week, and through two outreach events: one to raise awareness of water quality issues and the other to share the teams' research findings at a final symposium. Additionally, teachers will take the experience back into their classrooms, further extending the reach of the program into local schools.

The MH-YES Program is part of a regional network of mentoring programs for high school students organized by the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University Early Engagement in Research Program.

Support for this program comes from the New York State Water Resources Institute at Cornell University and NYSDEC Hudson River Estuary Program, the National Science Foundation, Marist College, the Nias Foundation, Nellie Mae Education Foundation, Niles Foundation, and Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies.