Attendees can choose one morning and one afternoon STEM session. and one afternoon session. Each of the session options detailed below begin in the morning at 9:15 and repeat as an afternoon session beginning at 1:30.

Note that each session will include a citizen science demonstration related to that topic area. Our team will model how to integrate citizen science into existing lessons, and provide resource guides to online, open-access citizen science tools to enhance your existing lessons with opportunities to contribute to ongoing research. 


  • JMG Plant & Garden Science


  • The Good, The Bad &The Ugly: Insects in the Garden


  • Making a Splash with Water Science


  • Exploring Robotics Science


  • Wildlife and Fisheries Science Safari

What is Citizen Science?
Kelly Albus

This Citizen Science, also known as community and participatory science, is a term used to describe the participation of students or volunteers (any non-professional) in scientific research. As populations grow and technology continues to advance, more people across the globe are participating in scientific research by contributing data, analyzing results, making systematic observations, or even designing their own research projects. Citizen science has also been shown to enhance student learning and engagement with science inquiry through hands-on, project-based applications. Citizen science allows anyone – regardless of age, background, or skill level – to become a participant rather than an observer in scientific research and leads to benefits for both science and society.

Dr. Kelly Albus is an environmental scientist whose almost 20 years of work in research, education and outreach efforts through citizen science have helped researchers and communities co-create knowledge for better watershed stewardship in Texas. During her career Dr. Albus has taught at universities, museums, wildlife centers and K-12 schools across the state, gaining insight and sharing expertise with diverse communities about how they interact with their environment and their water. Recent funded projects have focused on water data science and teacher training through the National Geographic Society, STEM education video series, and statewide water education programs through hands-on workshops and community events. Dr. Albus has worked on multiple funded projects and produced publications on citizen science and water quality and holds a Fellowship with the Meadows Center of Water and the Environment through her work with the Texas Stream Team. Now, as an Extension Program Specialist III with the Urban WISH Team in Dallas, Kelly is thrilled to be part of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension family and help promote their mission of outreach, education and stewardship for all Texans.


Randall Caldwell

Principal, Lake Dallas Middle School, Lake Dallas ISD

Randall Caldwell is the principal at Lake Dallas Middle School in Lake Dallas ISD.  He has twenty years of experience working alongside some amazing public educators. Randall began his relationship with Texas 4-H in 2013 while working as principal of Corinth Elementary. He began with free after-school 4-H enrichment programs taught by teachers that encouraged students to explore various interests outside of regular school curriculum.  Randall is a powerful force in the workplace and uses his positive attitude and tireless energy to encourage students to explore numerous career opportunities while at Lake Dallas Middle School. Randall is inspired daily by his wife Rise and their three children: Aubrey, Gage and Banks. In his free time, Randall enjoys shooting sports and boating with the family.


JMG Plant & Garden Science
Lisa Whittlesey
& Randy Seagraves

Agriculture/Life Sciences Building
Morning Session 9:15am
Afternoon Session 1:30pm

This hands-on, STEM-focused session is for elementary-intermediate teachers wanting to teach more plant science, environmental science and/or implement school garden projects. The workshop will be non-stop, beginning in the AGLS classroom and move to the Texas A&M Gardens while you become very familiar with many of the of proven, TEKS-based Junior Master Gardener lessons. This session will overview JMG curricula and focus on the JMG Level One Core Curriculum JMG Teacher/Leader Guide. Each attended will leave with a copy of the JMG Teacher/Leader Guide and several make it/take it samples!

Lisa Whittlesey serves as the program director for the International Junior Master Gardener program.  She has been an invited speaker to over 285 regional and national conferences and her recent work has focused on utilizing the Junior Master Gardener program (Learn, Grow, Eat & GO curricula) as an intervention as a part of a 5 year USDA AFRI funded Extension and Research project focused on child and family interventions for obesity prevention. Lisa is a lecturer for the freshman university course AGLS 125, guest lecturer for floral design and socio-horticulture classes at Texas A&M University and does educational videos for the public through Texas A&M AgriLife Extension social media outlets.

Randy Seagraves is an Extension Program Specialist & Curriculum Coordinator for the International Junior Master Gardener program. A former 3rd grade teacher in College Station ISD, Randy is the lead author of 8 JMG® curriculum guides, including the evidence-based Learn, Grow, Eat & GO! and the new Early Childhood Learn, Grow, Eat & GO! teacher guides. He guest lecturers for horticulture and education courses at Texas A&M and has been a guest host for the Weekend Gardener television segment for local CBS affiliate in College Station and regularly speaks at regional, state and national conferences across the country.

Making a Splash with Water Science
David Smith

Agriculture/Life Sciences Building
Morning Session 9:15am
Afternoon Session 1:30pm

This interactive workshop features curriculum, activities and STEM project ideas for teachers interested in enhancing student retention of water topics such as water chemistry, water conservation and stewardship, watershed protection, aquifer science and much more.
The session will take place in the Texas A&M Gardens which incorporate numerous water-conserving features such as native and drought-tolerant plants, efficient irrigation, and rainwater collection systems.

David Smith is an Extension Program Specialist for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and 4-H Youth Development in College Station. For more than 20 years, David has created and delivered educational resources and programs related to water resources, water conservation, irrigation, water treatment, and farm safety. In 2017, David formed the 4-H Water Ambassadors Program for high school youth who seek to increase their water knowledge and develop leadership skills related to the science, technology, engineering and management of water. In this program, David provides numerous hand-on experiences and continuing education throughout the year to expose students to the wide diversity of water careers. 

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Garden Insects
Jheri-Lynn McSwain
& Greg Grant

Agriculture/Life Sciences Building
Morning Session 9:15am
Afternoon Session 1:30pm

What has six legs, three body parts, over 1,000 eyes, a specialized mouth part, and uses its feet and legs for smelling? Answer: The incredible insect. Join renowned horticulturist, Greg Grant, and Dr. Jheri-Lynn McSwain, 4-H Extension Specialist as we explore the world of insects. Learn the basics of identification from the good (beneficial), the bad (harmful), and the ugly (unusual) and how to attract pollinators to your vegetable or ornamental flower gardens. Discover types of host plants, build a butterfly feeder to take home, and study other ways to encourage insects to your site. Learn how to incorporate a 4-H entomology project into your school science club and, in our session, start building your own collection by taking a scavenger hunt to learn how to collect, preserve, and mount insects. Get up close and personal to discover the specialized ways an insect uses its sense of smell, sight, and touch to find the perfect food source, and lastly, identify bees, butterflies and moths commonly found in Texas.

Jheri-Lynn McSwain is an Extension Program Specialist for 4-H Youth Development in East Texas with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.  Dr. McSwain holds a Ph.D. in Forestry from Stephen F. Austin State University, along with Masters’ degrees in Horticulture and Curriculum and Instruction from Texas Tech University and Baylor University, and a B.S. in Wildlife & Fisheries Science from Texas A&M University. 

Dr. McSwain provides educational programs in the areas of youth development, volunteer management, curriculum development, and 4-H adult leader programs.  In addition, she enjoys working with people of all ages and sharing her knowledge and expertise in the areas of home and school gardening, sportfishing, aquatic ecology, forestry, and food preservation.  

Before beginning her career with Extension in 2013, Dr. McSwain was an elementary school principal and Montessori teacher for 15 years.  In her free time, she enjoys travelling abroad, working in the garden, quilting and photography in nature. 

Greg Grant is an award-winning horticulturist, writer, photographer, conservationist, preservationist, and seventh-generation Texan from Arcadia, Texas. He is author of In Greg’s Garden-A Pineywoods Perspective on Gardening, Nature, and Family and Texas Fruit and Vegetable Gardening, and co-author of Heirloom Gardening in the South, Texas Home Landscaping, The Southern Heirloom Garden, and The Rose Rustlers. He also writes the popular “In Greg’s Garden” column for Texas Gardener magazine, a garden column in the Tyler Morning Telegraph, and writes a monthly “Greg’s Ramblings” blog. His real job however is the Smith County horticulturist for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Tyler, Texas.

He has degrees in floriculture and horticulture, both from Texas A&M University and attended post graduate classes at Louisiana State University, North Carolina State University, and Stephen F. Austin State University where he is currently working on a PhD. He has previous experience as a horticulturist with SFA Gardens, Mercer Arboretum, and San Antonio Botanical Gardens, an instructor at Stephen F. Austin and Louisiana State Universities, director of research and development at Lone Star Growers, and with the famed Antique Rose Emporium.

Greg has introduced several successful plants to the Southern nursery industry. He was presented the Superior Service Award by the Texas Agricultural Extension Service, the Lynn Lowrey Memorial Award by the Native Plant Society of Texas, and the Lone Star Land Steward Award by Texas Parks and Wildlife. Heirloom Gardening in the South was also a Garden Writers Association Silver Award recipient.

Greg and his Cajun bride live in the Pineywoods of Deep East Texas in his grandparents’ old farmhouse, where he tends his Rebel Eloy Emanis Pine Savanna and Bird Sanctuary, two dozen chickens, one Jack Russell, and three cats.

Exploring Robotics Science
Derrick Bruton 

Agriculture/Life Sciences Building
Morning Session 9:15am
Afternoon Session 1:30pm

Join this hands-on session to learn about fun and engaging STEM activities that you can utilize with your students in the world of robotics.  Learn about the robots around you that work for you in everyday life and those that assist our communities in more specific endeavors.  Experience activities using several different types of robots from basic to more advanced platforms.  Be prepared to apply the engineering design process to build and program robots in the classroom.

Derrick Bruton is an Extension Program Specialist for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. He currently serves as the state lead for all Texas 4-H STEM projects, of which includes robotics. He holds a B.S. degree in Agribusiness from Tarleton State University, and a M.S. degree from Texas A&M University in Wildlife Science. He began work with Extension in 2000, serving as a County Extension Agent in Smith County, and later serving as a district 4-H specialist for about 10 years.

In this current position as the STEM 4-H Specialist, he oversees projects that include robotics, photography, videography, and computer science. He also serves as the advisor to two state youth leadership programs called Photography and STEM Ambassadors. Derrick is the co-creator of the AgRobotics contest series, which has been adopted as the robotics contest platform for five major livestock shows in Texas. Derrick has created and delivered educational resources and programs related to STEM across the state and leads several STEM-focused summer camps at the Texas 4-H Center.

Wildlife and Fisheries Science Safari
Larry Hysmith

Agriculture/Life Sciences Building
Morning Session 9:15am
Afternoon Session 1:30pm

There is no better way to learn about the wildlife and habitat around you than to go on ‘safari’. Ok, that is just a cool word meaning get outdoors and search for life. This session will begin with some key skills necessary for a successful safari whether it is in your backyard, school yard, or a bona fide wild place. We will then gear up and get outdoors to search the garden flora, the skies, and the water ways for wild animal life on the busy campus of Texas A&M University. Several activities will be covered relating to taking kids on ‘safari’ and learning about their natural world as well as how to economically outfit yourself and your young explorers. Hands on participation in exploration is guaranteed. Your adventure awaits!

Larry Hysmith has 33 years of experience with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. His first four years he served as County Extension Agent in Milam and Grimes counties. He spent 16years providing natural resources conservation education through the Wildlife and Fisheries Extension Specialist Unit covering the state of Texas. He has worked the past 13years with the State 4-H Office as the coordinator of the statewide 4-H Natural Resources Program. Larry’s work focuses on youth education, especially 4-H youth, around the state. However, much of his time is spent training adults to work with youth in local areas. Project areas under the 4-H Natural Resources Program include Wildlife & Fisheries, Sportfishing, Hunting, Forestry, Entomology, Range Science, Water Conservation, Shooting Sports, and Outdoor Education. Larry’s classroom is the outdoors. His favorite activities are fishing, kayaking, backpacking, gardening…being outdoors doing just about anything. Larry believes wholeheartedly in the 4-H Slogan, ‘Learning by Doing’. His wife, Fey, is a wildlife biologist and a junior high school science/engineering teacher who shares his world and interests, often traveling with him assisting with programs. They have three children and two grandchildren.