BEMP celebrated a significant milestone a couple of weeks ago—it achieved participation of 100,000 people from across the state of New Mexico. That’s right, there are officially 100,000 BEMPers in the Land of Enchantment! The celebration brought together students from Horizons Albuquerque and a variety of schools including Bosque School, Albuquerque Sign Language Academy, and West Mesa High School. Joined by supporters of the program, the students led a walk through the Bosque and shared their data collection accomplishments. Students were also joined by Congresswoman Deb Haaland, who walked alongside students and gave a short speech recognizing the importance of BEMP.
At the start of her speech, the Congresswoman joked that she thought she “missed a porcupine in a tree, and I’m really bummed about that.” However, as she continued her tone became more serious. She shared her concerns about climate change and spoke about the importance of taking action to protect the health of our planet. She acknowledged, “The research you’re doing is going to help so many people in figuring out what we need to do to make sure we are preserving our natural spaces for all of you, for our future generations, for the animals themselves.” She thanked everyone involved in the program—from the students, “who have taken the time to be out here as often as you can, for diligently recording all of the data you’ve recorded,” to the faculty and staff who are ensuring that students are being taught what they need to learn. She thanked everyone for standing strong for the bosque and saving it for many people to enjoy in the future.
Bosque School alumna and former BEMPer, Madeleine Carey ‘10, was the one who suggested inviting Congresswoman Haaland to the event. BEMP encompasses the top priorities that the Congresswoman is passionate about: the climate, the environment, and education. Field Representative, Brenda McKenna, elaborated saying that “BEMP’s work of engaging tens of thousands of New Mexico's students—particularly those underrepresented in the sciences—in civic engagement through environmental stewardship, is exactly what the Congresswoman supports.” Bosque School was happy to have her support at the celebration, along with the support of many others.
“BEMP is a great science-based program, which is a need for all of our students.” Gary Goodman, a longtime supporter of Bosque and the BEMP program, explained, “It teaches them the precision of the scientific method, and of citizenship by being involved in the community and giving back.” Goodman said that the most important aspect of BEMP is its ability to teach students that they can make a difference, “because they do in BEMP.” Goodman believes that by exposing students to the environment through BEMP, many of them will be environmental stewards for the rest of their lives.
Dan Shaw, Co-Director of BEMP, shared his thoughts about BEMP and the celebration. “In a world where cynicism and hopelessness are often front and center in environmental and climate discussions, BEMP is an antidote to despair.” He explained, “Every week we have have hundreds, sometimes thousands, of BEMP students, learning about and taking action for a greener path forward. BEMP makes a difference in the lives of so many students every day.” Mr. Shaw reflected on the event saying that what resonated most with him was seeing BEMP students from six different schools explain their research, stories, and scientific findings to the Congresswoman. “The students were nervous, but they bravely engaged with the world at hand to create a better future for themselves and their own children to come.”
The students involved in the program clearly love what they do, including Bosque School students Ané ’22 and Isabel ‘20. Ané ’22 shared that her favorite part of being a BEMPer is, “the opportunities that I have because I know that this is not typical in most schools across the country. Doing work in my own community and environment is super cool.”
Isabel ‘20 added, “BEMP has inspired me to do science in my everyday life.”
It is not every day that we can celebrate this type of milestone, especially with a member of Congress alongside our students. It was a great morning that won’t be forgotten any time soon. Way to go, BEMPers!
Read a blog post about the event written by Eliot ‘23, here