Community Engagement

Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program (BEMP)

BEMP at Bosque School

Bosque School students dive deeply into understanding the Rio Grande and its riverside forest, the bosque. Bosque School, in partnership with the University of New Mexico (UNM) Department of Biology, directs the Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program (BEMP). This 20+ year collaboration provides Bosque School students with unparalleled opportunities for discovery in science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM). Starting in 6th grade, Bosque students gather data from the forest that sits adjacent to the school. This student-collected data, published through BEMP’s UNM office, are used by natural resource management agencies to inform multi-million dollar decisions about bosque care and restoration. In BEMP, middle school students challenge expectations about how even students their age can make a difference in their community.

As students move into upper school, their research and contributions to BEMP become more complex. Several Bosque high school students illustrated and wrote BEMP children’s books and zines that are now used throughout BEMP’s network of thousands of students to teach about environmental issues. Bosque upper school students routinely conduct original research in partnership with labs at UNM. Recently two students determined the genetic distinctness of a population of Rio Grande chub, a fish of ecological concern; another took hair samples from urban coyotes and used stable isotope analysis to look at the diet of that often misunderstood carnivore. A Bosque School education challenges students to take on meaningful and significant projects through opportunities like BEMP, and caring faculty provide the scaffolding necessary for student success.

BEMP Across New Mexico

In the Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program (BEMP), students do science that matters beyond the classroom. Between eight and ten thousand students participate in BEMP each school year. From more than 30 monitoring sites, stretching over 250 miles from Las Cruces to the Northern Pueblos, BEMP students track environmental change. BEMP is a network of partnerships that includes more than 50 schools and a variety of local, state, federal, and tribal land owners and agencies. The University of New Mexico Department of Biology leads BEMP’s science while Bosque School serves as the program’s educational hub.

Bosque School’s BEMP educators host thousands of students from dozens of schools each year—mostly from Albuquerque area public and charter schools—in exploring the bosque and doing field-based science. Bosque School, through BEMP and other programs, is a center for community engagement and challenges people to see how a private school can have a public purpose.