The Carpentries REC Program (CaRP)
In 2018, the UF Carpentries Club launched the Carpentries REC Program (CaRP) to facilitate exchanges between the main campus in Gainesville and Research and Education Centers (REC) across the State.
In case you did not know that, UF has 17 off-main campus facilities outside of Gainesville, 12 of which are RECs and 5 Research and Demonstration Sites (including 2 Biological Stations). Just like the main campus, these facilities have faculty members, staff, and graduate students. But grad student life at a REC is a whole different story than grad student life in Gainesville: both curricular and extra-curricular learning opportunities are limited, and because only a small number of people are employed at each facility, students at RECs miss out on the possibility to have frequent interactions with many different peers and faculty like students in Gainesville can do. This is what sparked our interest in launching an exchange program: by offering Carpentries workshops at different RECs across the State and bringing students from RECs to Gainesville to become trained as instructors, we hope to expose off-main campus students to valuable learning and professional development opportunities. The program is also a way to raise awareness among Gainesville students about RECs: we found that many on main campus are not even aware that these facilities exist and are an active part of the UF community.
We officially launched the CaRP in April 2018 by offering a Data Carpentry workshop at the Fort Lauderdale REC. The staff involved four instructors/helpers, of which 2 from FLREC, one from the Tropical REC in Homestead, and one from Gainesville. After that successful first experience, we offered another workshop in 2019 at the Tropical REC, this time with a team of all REC-based instructors. We plan to continue to offer one workshop per year in a different REC location in upcoming years.
Due to both the location and mission of RECs, which is strongly focused on extension, workshops held in these facilities are also great opportunities for outreach. So far, besides UF students, we also trained 27 students or professionals from neighboring universities and federal agencies, including USGS, USDA, USFWS, Nova Southeastern University, Florida Atlantic University, and Florida International University.
Starting in 2020, the CaRP will be sponsored by the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Thanks to the generous support of IFAS, we will be able to cover travel of 2 certified Carpentries instructors from Gainesville to an REC for our annual CaRP workshop and travel of 2 REC-based students to Gainesville to attend our annual instructor training workshop in Gainesville.
Each year, in our annual Board elections, we elect an Outreach Board Member who is responsible of managing activities of the CaRP. This Board position was created to ensure long-term continuity of the program so that the UF Carpentries Club can continue to promote interactions among different institutes in the UF community.