What does it mean to be a Citizen Scientist?
Citizen scientists are people concerned about the environment, who make a difference by spending time outside observing nature with a critical lens. Searching for, identifying, tracking, and chronicling what goes on in our yards is an important contribution that gives scientists access to more data than they may have ever been able to gather on their own.
“But I’m not a scientist…”
Citizen science relies on ordinary people, like you, to collect data or samples that are readily available to you. Anyone can be a citizen scientist– all you need is a passion for nature and helping your community!
Still not sure? Watch this video from the 2015 Wild Ones Annual Conference, where Dr. Karen Oberhauser and Sanny Oberhauser taught attendees “how to be a citizen scientist” through an introduction and training in various citizen science programs related to monarchs.
Citizen Science Projects related to the Bring Conservation Home mission:
The YardMap Network is a citizen science project designed to cultivate a richer understanding of bird habitat. By literally drawing a map of your backyard, local park, school and other gardens, you can participate. Become part of this conservation community focused on sharing strategies, maps, and successes to build more bird habitat.
The Xerces Society has a number of projects where you can contribute directly to the science of invertebrate conservation. Projects include tracking declining bumble bees, dragonfly migration and monarch population monitoring. You will also find partner efforts to better understand the conservation status of bees, butterflies, dragonflies, ladybugs, crickets and more.
Project FeederWatch is a winter-long survey of birds that visit feeders at backyards, nature centers, community areas, and other locales in North America. FeederWatchers periodically count the birds they see at their feeders from November through early April and send their counts to Project FeederWatch. FeederWatch data help scientists track broadscale movements of winter bird populations and long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance.
Ebird is a tool that allows users to record the birds seen, keep track of bird lists, explore maps and graphs, and share your sightings. The observations of each participant join those of others in an international network of eBird users. These observations are shared with a global community of educators, land managers, ornithologists, and conservation biologists. In time these data will become the foundation for a better understanding of bird distribution across the western hemisphere and beyond.
NestWatch tracks status and trends in the reproductive biology of birds, including when nesting occurs, number of eggs laid, how many eggs hatch, and how many hatchlings survive. Simply follow the directions on the Nestwatch website to become a certified NestWatcher, find a bird nest using the helpful tips, visit the nest every 3-4 days and record what you see, and then report this information on the website. Your observations will be added to those of thousands of other NestWatchers in a continually growing database used by researchers to understand and study birds.
Celebrate Urban Birds is a year-round project launched by The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Its primary purpose is to reach diverse urban audiences who do not already participate in science or scientific investigation, with a secondary goal to collect high-quality data from participants that provides valuable knowledge of how different environments will influence the location of birds in urban areas.
As a Project BudBurst participant, you will make careful observations of the timing of leafing, flowering, and fruiting phases of plants throughout the year. Spring, summer, fall, and winter phases are all valuable. Scientists and educators can use the data to learn more about how plant species respond to changes in climate locally, regionally, and nationally.
Seasonal change is all around us. We see it in the length of a day, in the appearance of a flower, in the flight of a butterfly. Journey North engages students and citizen scientists around the globe in tracking wildlife migration and seasonal change. Participants share field observations across the northern hemisphere, exploring the interrelated aspects of seasonal change. Species or events tracked include monarch migration, ruby-throated hummingbird migration, spring leaf-out, and even the flow of maple syrup!
The goals of Beespotter are to engage citizen scientists in data collection to establish a much-needed baseline for monitoring population declines, to increase public awareness of pollinator diversity, and enhance public appreciation of pollination as an ecosystem service. The best way to get involved is to get out there with your camera and capture some good pictures of bees!
Across North America ladybug species composition is changing. Over the past twenty years native ladybugs that were once very common have become extremely rare. During this same time ladybugs from other parts of the world have greatly increased both their numbers and range. This is happening very quickly and we don’t know how, or why, or what impact it will have on ladybug diversity or the role that ladybugs play in keeping plant-feeding insect populations low. oin the Lost Ladybug Project to help in finding out where all the ladybugs have gone so we can try to prevent more native species from becoming so rare.
Frogwatch USA is a citizen science program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) that provides individuals, groups, and families with an opportunity to learn about wetlands in their communities and report data on the calls of local frogs and toads. Volunteers collect data during evenings from February through August and have been submitting data for over 15 years.
Firefly Watch combines an annual summer evening ritual with scientific research.Join the network of volunteers, observe in your backyard, interact with fellow citizen scientists, and help scientist map fireflies found in New England and beyond.