South Tahoe High School seniors Emily Barnett and Tyler Myers will travel to Moscow next week to present their field research project at the 9th annual International Junior Foresters' Competition.
The U.S. Forest Service's International Programs Office selected the project, which explores the effects of fire and forest thinning on the understory plants in the basin, to represent the country in the competition hosted by the Russian Federal Forestry Agency.
This is the first year the U.S. will participate in the event, and Barnett and Myers will join 58 other youth from 32 countries who will present their projects to an international panel of 15 forestry experts.
The two teens started working on their project that combines field work, data analysis and a 20-page paper during the 2011-12 school year. It grew from their participation in the Generation Green Program, a student club advised by teacher Maria Luquin and Lake Tahoe Management Unit Conservation Education Specialist Joy Barney.
In 2011 both worked as summer interns with the LTBMU and were members of the Youth Conservation Corps. When school started again in the fall, the two assumed leadership of the Generation Green Club.
They started designing the project that year when they learned about the competition.
"At first it was just another idea we would longingly joke about, but as time went on, we started to talk seriously about it and started making plans," Barnett said.
The students' participation in the competition is part of an ongoing collaboration between the Forest Service and the Russian Federal Forestry Agency. The two agencies have collaborated for more than 50 years on research, technical cooperation, and policy issues. Like the U.S., Russia contains temperate and boreal forests that share similar species, forest health problems, and common threats.